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 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. He earned a diploma from Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. 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.
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
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).
The United States Senate confirmed Admiral Fallon as the first Navy admiral to command CENTCOM on February 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]". 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." and he referred to Iranians as ants, "These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them."
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 which depicted him as openly criticizing the Bush administration with specific regard to American policy towards Iran.
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.
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.
Fallon was the commencement speaker at the 2009 commencement ceremonies at his alma mater, Villanova University. He also was the 2009 commencement speaker for the University of California, San Diego's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.
Starting in June 2009, Admiral Fallon served as co-chair of the Center for Strategic & International Studies Commission on Smart Global Health Policy 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."
Admiral Fallon was named chief executive officer of NeuralIQ Government Services, Inc. in March 2010.
Ranks and promotions
- Villanova University, NROTC, Midshipman – Class of 1967
|Ensign||Lieutenant, Junior Grade||Lieutenant||Lieutenant Commander||Commander||Captain|
|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|
|October 1, 1994||January 1, 1997||September 20, 1998||November 1, 2000|
Awards and decorations
Naval Flight Officer
|Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster|
|Navy Distinguished Service Medal|
|Defense Superior Service Medal|
|Legion of Merit with three golden award stars|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Meritorious Service Medal with two award stars|
|Air Medal with gold award star, Combat V and bronze strike/flight numeral 3|
|Navy Commendation Medal with gold award star and Valor V|
|Navy Achievement Medal|
|Joint Meritorious Unit Award|
|Navy Unit Commendation with 3 bronze service stars|
|Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation with bronze service star|
|Navy "E" Ribbon w/ 2 Battle E devices|
|Navy Expeditionary Medal with bronze service star|
|National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with bronze service star|
|Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze service stars|
|Southwest Asia Service Medal with two bronze service stars|
|Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with silver service star|
|Grand Cross of Naval Merit of Spain|
|Commander of the National Order of Merit (France)|
|Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Ribbon|
|NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia|
|Vietnam Campaign Medal|
|Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)|
|Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)|