At a Glance
- Career History: 2nd lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (1971); Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (2004 to 2007)
- Birthday: Sept. 22, 1949
- Hometown: Rockford, Ill.
- Alma Mater: University of Iowa (Pre-medicine); Graduate, Air Command & Staff College; Naval War College (M.A., National Security Studies); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Completed fellowship)
- Deployments: Operational assignments flying F-4, OA-4 and F/A-18 aircraft; Commander of First Marine Air Wing; Deputy Commanding General of Marine Forces Atlantic
- DC Office: 9999 Joint Staff Pentagon
- Web site
Path to Power
Cartwright boasts one of the most unique resumes in the U.S. military, having flown fighter jets, studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served in a number of senior Pentagon posts. Commissioned as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in November 1971, Cartwright wrapped up his naval aviator training in early 1977 and went on to complete several operational tours flying such warplanes as the F-4 and F/A-18 aircraft.
Cartwright is no stranger to the inner workings of the Pentagon. As early as 1996, Cartwright was a major player within the building, serving as deputy director of the Joint Staff's Force Structure and Requirements Directorate, also known as J-8, from 1996 to 1999. The J-8 conducts studies and other analysis designed to help defense officials make decisions about force structure needs, operational concepts, acquisition programs and other issues.
As Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, Cartwright advises the Pentagon on a range of issues on which he has worked extensively during the last decade: major acquisition programs, nuclear weapons, cyber threats and force structure.
Cartwright's efforts to alter the Pentagon's cumbersome and sometimes-ineffective weapons-purchasing system continued in 2008 when he quietly worked with a Defense Business Board (DBB) task force to craft a set of proposals on the subject for incoming President Obama.
As deputy J-8 director, Cartwright worked for a year under the late Air Force Lt. Gen. David McCloud, who was director of the influential shop.
Cartwright has referred to former Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace as a mentor. Pace was Marine Forces Atlantic commander in 2000, when Cartwright was the No. 2 officer there. Pace, in a 2007 interview, said no matter where Cartwight goes, he is "the smartest guy in the room. He flat gets it. And he gets it in a way that not only ties things together, but [he] articulates it in a way that guys like me can understand."