Robert L. Thomas, Jr.
Professor of Practice
Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, Jr., U.S. Navy (ret), is a Professor of Practice at the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS). Professor Thomas served in the U.S. Military for 38 years. The son of a career Marine, VADM Thomas graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He holds a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the National War College in Washington, DC.
At the school, he teaches courses on security related policy and strategy to include GPPS 442 Foundations of Strategic Studies, GPPS 443 U.S. National Security Decision Making, and GPPS 444 A History of Warfare. In the Spring of 2021 he will also teach a section of the GPS Capstone Course.
As a career submarine officer, VADM Thomas served on fast-attack submarines operating in both U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command theaters of operation. His assignments included USS Guitarro (SSN 665), USS Permit (SSN 594), USS Asheville (SSN 758) and USS Bremerton (SSN 698) where he served as commanding officer. Additionally, he took command of USS Tucson (SSN 770) while serving as deputy commander, Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 11.
VADM Thomas served as commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Representative West Coast; commander, Submarine Squadron 11 and commander, Task Force 74/54 in Yokosuka, Japan. In his last operational assignment, VADM Thomas commanded the U.S. 7th Fleet from July 2013 to September 2015. He then assumed duties as the Director of the Navy Staff and retired in January 2017.
Ashore, VADM Thomas served as flag aide to the deputy chief of naval operations (OP-07); program analyst in the Secretary of the Navy’s Office of Program Appraisal; director of Operational Support (CNO N23); assistant deputy director for Politico-Military Affairs, Western Hemisphere, J5, on the Joint Staff; director, Plans and Policy (N5) for Naval Special Warfare Command; director, Strategy and Policy Division (OPNAV N51); vice director of operations, J3, on the Joint Staff; and chief of staff, J5, on the Joint Staff.
Professor Thomas’ international awards include The Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class (Gold and Silver Star), and The Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit, Second Grade (Gukseon Medal).