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John F. Kirby

Former Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs


John F. Kirby was sworn in as Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs on January 20, 2021.  In this role, he advised Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks on public communications and community engagement.  He also served as the Department’s chief spokesperson. 

Most recently, Kirby was an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a military and diplomatic analyst at CNN.  Kirby previously served at the Department of State, as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs from December 2015 to January 2017 and as the State Department’s spokesperson from May 2015 to January 2017. 

Prior to the State Department, Kirby served as the Pentagon Press Secretary under Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the first uniformed officer to hold the position of chief spokesman for the Department of Defense.

Kirby commissioned in the U.S. Navy in September 1986 after completing Officer Candidate School at Newport, R.I.  He served in uniform for more than 28 years, before retiring in 2015 at the rank of Rear Admiral.  His naval career included duty at sea and ashore, including deployments to the Middle East and Mediterranean.  His last Navy posting was as Chief of Navy Information, where he served as the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy. 

He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where he received a Bachelor's degree in History.  He holds a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.