John Kirby (admiral)

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John Kirby
John F. Kirby official photo.jpg
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications
Assumed office
May 28, 2022
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byPosition established
Pentagon Press Secretary
In office
January 20, 2021 – May 27, 2022[1]
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byAlyssa Farah
Succeeded byPatrick S. Ryder
In office
December 2013 – February 2015[2]
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byGeorge E. Little
Succeeded byPeter Cook
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
In office
January 20, 2021 – May 27, 2022
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byJonathan Rath Hoffman
Succeeded byPatrick S. Ryder
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
In office
December 11, 2015 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byDouglas Frantz
Succeeded byMichelle Giuda
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
In office
May 13, 2015 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJen Psaki
Succeeded byHeather Nauert
Personal details
John Francis Kirby

1963 (age 58–59)
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
EducationUniversity of South Florida (BA)
Troy University (MS)
Naval War College (MA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1986–2015
RankUS Navy O8 infobox.svg Rear Admiral
CommandsChief of Naval Information

John Francis Kirby (born 1963) is a retired rear admiral in the United States Navy serving as Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House since late May 2022. He previously served as Pentagon Press Secretary for the first year and a half of the Biden Administration, and worked as a military and diplomatic analyst for CNN from 2017 to 2021.[3] Prior to that, he served in the Obama administration as the spokesperson for the United States Department of State from 2015 to 2017.

Early life and education[edit]

Kirby grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is a 1981 graduate of Saint Petersburg Catholic High School, and a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He holds a Master of Science degree in international relations from Troy University and a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

Military career[edit]

Kirby was commissioned in September 1986 after completing Officer Candidate School at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island. He qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Aubrey Fitch before being designated as a restricted line officer, to service as a public affairs officer (PAO).

Rear Admiral John Kirby while serving as the Navy's chief of information, circa 2012

As a public affairs officer, Kirby served at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal and on the staff of the Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, embarked aboard the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney.[4]

While ashore, Kirby completed tours as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy; public affairs officer with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels); editor in chief of the Navy's flagship monthly magazine, All Hands; the staffs of the Chief of Naval Personnel, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Chief of Naval Operations, and the special assistant for public affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations,[4] serving under the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

In May 2012, Kirby was promoted to rear admiral (lower half)[5] and served as the U.S. Navy's Chief of Information (CHINFO). As CHINFO, Kirby served as the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy and providing strategic communication counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations. He led the Navy's public affairs community, which consists of more than 2,700 active and reserve officer, enlisted, and civilian communication professionals.

Political career[edit]

Obama administration[edit]

In December 2013, Kirby was appointed Pentagon press secretary by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.[6][7] In May 2014, Kirby was promoted to rear admiral.[8] In October 2014, Senator John McCain disputed Kirby's contention that the U.S. was winning its war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and called him an "idiot".[9] On April 22, 2015, it was announced that Kirby would be the new spokesman for the United States Department of State after he retired from the military later in the year.[10]

Kirby became spokesman for the State Department on May 12, 2015.[11][12] In October 2016, Kirby defended the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis.[13] He left office following the inauguration of President Trump on January 20, 2017.[14]

Biden administration[edit]

On January 14, 2021, Kirby was tapped to reprise his role as Pentagon press secretary by President Biden.[15]

Kirby conducting a press briefing at the Pentagon

On March 11, 2021, Kirby condemned Tucker Carlson for his comments that accommodations for women in uniform, particularly maternity wear and haircut regulations, somehow impact the readiness and effectiveness of the United States military.[16]

On May 19, 2022, the White House announced that Kirby would be vacating the role of Pentagon Press Secretary to join the National Security Council as Coordinator for Strategic Communications. In this role, Kirby will "coordinate interagency efforts to explain United States policy and will serve as a senior administration voice on related matters".[17][18]


Kirby has been awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (four awards), and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, as well as various campaign and service awards.[4]


  1. ^ Kirby, John [@PentagonPressSec] (May 27, 2022). "A bittersweet day for me, as it's my last day as Pentagon Press Secretary" (Tweet). Retrieved May 29, 2022 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Cooper, Helene (February 18, 2015). "John Kirby, Pentagon Spokesman, Will Be Replaced With a Civilian". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  3. ^ "April Ryan Joins CNN As Political Analyst". WHUR Radio. April 4, 2017. Archived from the original on September 23, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Rear Admiral John Kirby > United States Navy > BioDisplay". Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  5. ^ "PN1576 - Capt. John F. Kirby for Navy, 112th Congress (2011-2012)". May 24, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Pentagon announces appointment of new press secretary to toe the line and control public perception of war and the military". December 14, 2013.
  7. ^ Philip Ewing. "The Pentagon's 2-star message man". Politico.
  8. ^ "PN1621 - Rear Adm. (lh) John F. Kirby nominee for Navy, 113th Congress (2013-2014)". May 22, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "McCain Calls Two-Star Admiral and Pentagon Spokesman an 'Idiot'". October 23, 2014.
  10. ^ Crawford, Jamie; Labott, Elize (April 22, 2015). "Pentagon spokesman Kirby to shift to State Department". CNN. CNN. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  11. ^ "John Kirby". U.S. Department of State. May 12, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  12. ^ "@StateDept's Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs: Doug Frantz Out, John Kirby In". Diplopundit. October 10, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  13. ^ "US spokesperson struggles with questions about the difference between bombings in Syria and Yemen". The Independent. October 12, 2016. Archived from the original on June 13, 2022.
  14. ^ Reuters Staff (January 7, 2021). "White House tells political appointees to prepare for Jan. 20 resignation". Reuters. Retrieved January 29, 2021. Traditionally, Presidential Appointees in non-term positions have been asked to submit formal letters of resignation.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Jenkins, Cameron (January 14, 2021). "John Kirby to reprise role as Pentagon press secretary under President Biden". The Hill. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  16. ^ Jacob Knutson (March 11, 2021). "Pentagon condemns Tucker Carlson for mocking women in the military". Axios.
  17. ^ "President Biden Announces John Kirby as NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications". The White House. May 20, 2022. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  18. ^ Collins, Kaitlan (May 21, 2022). "Pentagon spokesman John Kirby moving to the White House". CNN.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Government.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
Succeeded by
Preceded by Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Pentagon Press Secretary