William J. Fallon

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William J. Fallon
ADM Fallon Portrait.jpg
ADM William J. Fallon, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Nickname(s) "Fox"[1]
Born (1944-12-30) December 30, 1944 (age 74)
East Orange, New Jersey
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1967–2008
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral (O-10)
Commands held U.S. Central Command
U.S. Pacific Command
U.S. Fleet Forces Command
Vice Chief of Naval Operations
U.S. 2nd Fleet
Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group
Attack Squadron Sixty Five
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia)
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (4)
Bronze Star
Meritorious Service Medal (3)
Air Medal (2) with Combat V and bronze strike/flight numeral 3
Navy Commendation Medal (2) with Combat V
Navy Achievement Medal

William Joseph Fallon (born December 30, 1944) is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral who retired after serving for over 41 years. His last military assignment was as Commander, U.S. Central Command from March 2007[1] to March 2008. ADM Fallon was the first Navy officer to hold that position. His other four-star assignments include Commander, U.S. Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command from October 2003 to February 2005, and 31st Vice Chief of Naval Operations from October 2000 to August 2003. On March 11, 2008, he announced his resignation from CENTCOM and retirement from active duty, citing administrative complications caused in part by an article in Esquire Magazine, which described him as the only thing standing between the Bush Administration and war with Iran.

Early life and education

Fallon was born in East Orange, New Jersey and raised in Merchantville, New Jersey.[2] He earned a diploma from Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.[3] A 1967 graduate of Villanova University, he received his commission through the Navy ROTC Program and was designated a Naval Flight Officer upon completion of flight training in December 1967.

Fallon is a graduate of the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and the National War College in Washington, D.C. He holds a Master of Arts Degree in International Studies from Old Dominion University. Admiral Fallon was awarded the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award in 2001 and granted an honorary Doctor of Military Science degree by his alma mater, Villanova University, on May 17, 2009.[4]

Military service

After flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida and NAS Glynco, Georgia, Fallon began his operational Naval Aviation career flying in the RA-5C Vigilante at NAS Sanford, Florida and NAS Albany, Georgia, including a combat deployment to Vietnam. He then transitioned to the A-6E Intruder in 1974 at NAS Oceana, Virginia. All told, he served in flying assignments for 24 years with Reconnaissance Attack Squadrons (RVAH), Attack Squadrons (VA) and Carrier air wings (CVW), deploying to the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and Mediterranean Sea, embarked in USS Saratoga (CV-60), USS Ranger (CV-61), USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). He has logged more than 1,300 carrier arrested landings and over 4,800 flight hours in tactical jet aircraft.

Fallon commanded Attack Squadron 65 (The World Famous Fighting Tigers), embarked in Dwight D. Eisenhower, Medium Attack Wing One at NAS Oceana, Virginia, and Carrier Air Wing Eight aboard Theodore Roosevelt during a combat deployment to the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Assigned as Commander, Carrier Group Eight in 1995, he deployed to the Mediterranean as Commander, Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group and commanded Battle Force Sixth Fleet (CTF 60) during NATOs combat Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia. Admiral Fallon served as Commander, U.S. Second Fleet and Commander, Striking Fleet Atlantic from November 1997 to September 2000.

Shore duties included assignment as Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, Fleet Air Jacksonville, and to the staffs of Commander, Reconnaissance Attack Wing One; Commander, Operational Test Force, and Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. He has served as Deputy Director for Operations, Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and as Deputy Director, Aviation Plans and Requirements on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. His first flag officer assignment was with NATO as Assistant Chief of Staff, Plans and Policy for Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic. He was then assigned as Deputy and Chief of Staff, U.S. Atlantic Fleet followed by assignment as Deputy Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff, U.S. Atlantic Command. Nominated for his fourth star, he became the 31st Vice Chief of Naval Operations in October 2000.

In February 2001, while serving as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Fallon was sent to Japan as a Presidential Special Envoy to apologize for the submarine USS Greeneville (SSN-772)'s collision with the Ehime Maru.

In 2002 he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee that the military should be exempted from certain environmental laws because the laws impacted the military's ability to conduct operations at its bases.

He was then nominated and confirmed for assignment as the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet from October 2003 to February 2005 during that time he was assigned to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following that, he was Commander, U.S. Pacific Command from February 2005 until March 2007; his assignment was his third four star assignment, a rarity for military officers.

During his tenure as head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Fallon took a conciliatory approach towards China, a position that drew the ire of hardliners including Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz.

United States Central Command

Robert Gates with Fallon and John Abizaid at the CENTCOM Change of Command ceremony, 2007.

On January 4, 2007, President Bush nominated Fallon for his fourth four-star command to replace John Abizaid, who was retiring from the U.S. Army, as Commander of the United States Central Command, (CENTCOM).[5]

The United States Senate confirmed Admiral Fallon as the first Navy admiral to command CENTCOM on February 7.[6][7] He relieved General Abizaid on March 16, 2007.

As combatant commander of Central Command, Fallon was General David Petraeus's superior officer, who was at that time the commander of Multinational Force Iraq. Petraeus succeeded Fallon as CENTCOM commander, relieving the "Acting" CENTCOM Commander, then-Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey on October 31, 2008.

As CENTCOM commander, Fallon often criticized Iran while also encouraging negotiations. On May 28, 2007, he noted that the United States would continue to have a military presence in the Middle East, despite Iran wishing otherwise. However, he also said, "We have to figure out a way to come to an arrangement with them [Iran]".[8] In an Al-Jazeera broadcast on September 30, 2007, he criticized those publicly urging war, stating "This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful. [...] I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for." He also stated that Iran was not as strong as it claimed, "Not militarily, economically or politically."[9] and he referred to Iranians as ants, "These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."[10]


On March 11, 2008 Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the resignation of Fallon as CENTCOM Commander. He stated that Fallon's reason for resigning centered on the controversy regarding a recent article in Esquire magazine[11] which depicted him as openly criticizing the Bush administration[12] with specific regard to American policy towards Iran.[13][14]

After his widely publicized resignation, interpreted as opposition to military action against Iran, the conservative The Washington Times countered with a report that Fallon's active and retired military critics believed that he was "pushed to resign" by higher officials because "he failed to prevent foreign fighters and munitions from entering Iraq". After his resignation as CENTCOM commander, he retired from military service.[15]

Post service life

Fallon joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for International Studies as a Robert Wilhelm Fellow for nine months, starting August 2008. He will collaborate with the MIT community in research, seminars, conferences and other intellectual projects.[16]

Fallon was the commencement speaker at the 2009 commencement ceremonies at his alma mater, Villanova University.[4] He also was the 2009 commencement speaker for the University of California, San Diego's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.[17]

Starting in June 2009, Admiral Fallon served as co-chair of the Center for Strategic & International Studies Commission on Smart Global Health Policy[18] alongside the President and CEO of CARE, Helene D. Gayle where he discussed his experiences with the security dimensions of global health. Admiral Fallon contributed in multiple conferences and policy discussions and attended a summer tour of Kenya that included the Kibera slums. At a global health event in the North Carolina Research Triangle, Admiral Fallon gave the keynote address:

I spent more than 40 years of my life serving in the U.S. Navy, serving around the world, as well as Commander of both U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command. When I was a student at the U.S. Naval War College, security was defined in very traditional terms. It was the business of competing sovereign state actors with defined borders who pursue hard national interests.

Working on the ground in the far corners of the world, however, I came to appreciate that security today is much more about basic day-to-day existence – it's primarily about the security of the individual. Included in this, the way people relate to each other, their families, their jobs and their communities. It is broader and far more personal than traditional notions of security. And at the heart of human security is health.


Admiral Fallon joined Tilwell Petroleum LLC in August, 2009 as a partner and advisor for the company's strategic business development program. "We are excited to have Admiral Fallon join our team at Tilwell," said Tony Cardwell, Managing Member of Tilwell. "Admiral Fallon's extensive experience in the Navy and his work with government and non-governmental agencies is a great addition to Tilwell as we continue to expand our customer base and support for both military and commercial applications."[20]

Admiral Fallon was named chief executive officer of NeuralIQ Government Services, Inc. in March 2010.[21]

Ranks and promotions

Villanova University, NROTC, Midshipman – Class of 1967
Ensign Lieutenant, Junior Grade Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg US Navy O4 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg
May 15, 1967
(date of rank from June 7)
July 1, 1968 July 1, 1970 July 1, 1976 April 1, 1982 September 1, 1988
Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral (upper half) Vice Admiral Admiral
O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg US Navy O10 insignia.svg
October 1, 1994 January 1, 1997 September 20, 1998 November 1, 2000


Awards and decorations

Navalflightoff.jpegNaval Flight Officer

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Navy Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
Award star (gold).pngAward star (gold).pngAward star (gold).png Legion of Merit with three golden award stars
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Award star (gold).pngAward star (gold).png Meritorious Service Medal with two award stars
Award star (gold).pngCombat Distinguishing Device.pngAward numeral 3.png Air Medal with gold award star, Combat V and bronze strike/flight numeral 3
Award star (gold).pngCombat Distinguishing Device.png Navy Commendation Medal with gold award star and Valor V
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg Navy Achievement Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation with 3 bronze service stars
Bronze star
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with bronze service star
Navy "E" Ribbon w/ 2 Battle E devices
Bronze star
Navy Expeditionary Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Bronze star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Silver star
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with silver service star
ESP Gran Cruz Merito Naval (Distintivo Blanco) pasador.svg Grand Cross of Naval Merit of Spain
80px Commander of the National Order of Merit (France)
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Ribbon
NATO Medal Yugoslavia ribbon bar.svg NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Levesque, William R. (March 17, 2007). "With passing of flag, CentCom gets new leader". St. Petersburg Times. p. 11A. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Shanker, Thom (January 8, 2007). "Adm. William J. Fallon: An Experienced Naval Officer, and a Diplomat". The New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Martin, Susan Taylor (January 14, 2007). "From facilitator to warrior". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved March 12, 2008. Tall and lean, Fallon ran on the track team at Camden Catholic High.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://www.villanova.edu/president/commencement/speaker.htm Archived April 15, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Raddatz, Martha (January 4, 2007). "Replacements for Generals Abizaid and Casey". Blogs: Political Radar. ABC News. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Flaherty, Anne (February 8, 2007). "Senate confirms Fallon for CentCom chief". Army Times. Associated Press. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Phillips, Kyra (March 27, 2007). "U.S. Commander: No civil war in Iraq". Iraq: Transition of Power. CNN. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Adm. Fallon: Iran can't be ignored". USA Today. May 28, 2007. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Murphy, Brian (September 29, 2007). "Nervous Gulf Hears Calmer Tones on Iran". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Siamdoust, Nahid (August 6, 2008). "Why Iran Won't Budge on Nukes". Time. Retrieved November 1, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Barnett, Thomas P.M. (March 11, 2008). "The Man Between War and Peace". Esquire. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Fallon Resigns As Mideast Military Chief". Associated Press. March 11, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "US Mid-East commander steps down". BBC News. March 12, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Hansen, Louis (April 18, 2008). "Interview: How Fallon's storied Navy career was curtailed". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved April 20, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Carter, Sara (March 13, 2008). "Warriors welcome Fallon's resignation". The Washington Times. Retrieved March 13, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Ex-CENTCOM commander joins MIT Center for International Studies – MIT News Office
  17. [1]
  18. [2]
  19. Admiral William J. Fallon: Global Health Matters to the U.S. September 23, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
  20. "Fallon Joins Tilwell" (Press release). Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. [3] March 2010
  22. Congressional appointments 2007, pg 195 Federation of American Scientists PDF

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas B. Fargo
Commander of United States Pacific Command
Succeeded by
Timothy J. Keating
Preceded by
John Abizaid
Commander of United States Central Command
Succeeded by
Martin Dempsey