Adm. William "Bill" E. Gortney '77 tapped for top military position
President Barack Obama nominated Gortney on June 24 to lead U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.
U.S. Fleet forces Command Adm. William "Bill" E. Gortney '77 has been nominated by President Barack Obama to lead U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
U.S. Northern Command partners to conduct homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. NORAD is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. After confirmation by the U.S. Congress, Gortney would replace Army Gen. Charles Jacoby.
Gortney's nomination was one of three new senior military leadership positions the Pentagon announced June 24. In a statement, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hegel praised all three candidates as "highly qualified officers who have devoted many years of service to their country."
Gortney entered the Navy as an aviation officer candidate shortly after graduating from Elon with degrees in history and political science in 1977. He received his commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve in September of that year, earned his wings of gold in December 1978 and graduated from the Naval War College in 1996 with a master’s degree in international security affairs.
He has served in a variety of command positions afloat and ashore throughout his career, including director of the joint staff for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2010 to 2012. Before that appointment, Gortney served as commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in Central Command, and as commander of the 5th Fleet in Bahrain. The post was his third command tour in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, which supports maritime security and combat operations for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, four Legion of Merit awards and three Meritorious Service Medals, among others, for his outstanding service to the U.S. military.
In 2011 Gortney returned to his alma mater to deliver the university’s 121st Commencement address and was named the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by the Office of Alumni Engagement.