Commander Submarines NATO
A native of Hinsdale, Illinois, Rear Admiral (Select) Matt Zirkle is a 1984 graduate of the University of California at San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics/Computer Science.
After receiving his commission from Naval Officer Candidate School in 1985, Zirkle completed initial nuclear power and submarine training and was assigned to USS Parche (SSN 683) where he qualified as a submarine warfare officer and nuclear engineer officer. Zirkle also made deployments in USS Pintado (SSN 672) and USS Pogy (SSN 647) to the Arctic and Western Pacific Oceans.
In 1989, Zirkle affiliated with the Navy Reserve and since then has commanded nine reserve units. His tours of duty include leadership roles in the Submarine Force, Naval Coastal Warfare, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, Naval Control and Protection of Shipping, a Joint Task Force, the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Pacific Command. Most recently Zirkle served as director, Strategic Communications, U.S. Submarine Force Reserve Component.
Zirkle returned to active duty in 2006 serving on the OPNAV staff as a Navy Crisis Action Team Chief at the Pentagon, monitoring all U.S. Navy operations and events worldwide. In 2009, Zirkle mobilized as chief of staff, Commander Task Force Iraqi Maritime in Bahrain directing a headquarters staff of U.S. and U.K. navy personnel responsible for the protection of Iraq's oil terminals and territorial waters while transitioning this mission to the Iraqi Navy.
In October 2014, Zirkle was promoted to Rear Admiral (lower half) and is slated to take command of Allied Submarine Forces at NATO's Maritime Command, Northwood, U.K. Zirkle earned a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Cornell University in 1991. Zirkle is also a graduate of the Marine Corps Institute's Command and Staff College Distance Education Program and is currently enrolled in the Joint Forces Staff College Advance Joint Professional Military Education (AJPME) course.
His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Navy Achievement Medal (four awards) and various unit and campaign awards.