Executive Profiles

Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations

Michael Gilday

Chief of Naval Operations


Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations

Adm. Michael Gilday is the incumbent chief of naval operations, a position that serves as a military adviser and deputy to the secretary of the Navy. He began serving as the 32nd chief of naval operations on Aug. 22, 2019.

Before he was nominated by former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, a two-time Wash100 winner, Gilday served as the director of the Joint Staff. He had held the role since March 1 until he was promoted over his four-star colleagues, the Navy said.

He previously served on the staff of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, chief of naval operations and vice chief of naval operations. His joint assignments include executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and naval aide to the president.

Gilday also served as director of operations for NATO's Joint Force Command Lisbon, chief of staff for NATO's Naval Striking and Support Forces and director of operations for Cyber Command.

In addition to having been part of multi-awarded teams, Gilday is also a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.  

According to a Navy Times report, Gilday was part of a crew that defended a damaged Princeton guided-missile cruiser near the Kuwaiti shoreline for 30 hours until it could be towed out of a minefield. 

He earned a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds master's degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and the National War College.


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