A Michigan native, the Honorable Kenneth J. Braithwaite was sworn in as the 77th Secretary of the Navy May 29, 2020. He previously served as the 31st U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway.
Secretary Braithwaite graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in naval engineering and political science. In 1995, he earned a master’s degree in government administration, graduating with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels School of Government.
Secretary Braithwaite designated as a naval aviator in April 1986. His first operational assignment was to Patrol Squadron (VP) 17, NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, where he flew anti-submarine missions tracking adversary submarines throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
In April 1988, Secretary Braithwaite redesignated as a public affairs officer with his initial tour aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66). Additional duty assignments included Commander Carrier Group 2 and Commander, Striking Force 6th Fleet. He made both a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Force deployment to the North Atlantic operating above the Arctic Circle and a Mediterranean and Indian Ocean cruise where the battle group responded to tensions in the Persian Gulf. In 1990, he was assigned to the staff of Commander, Naval Base Philadelphia as chief of Public Affairs.
The Secretary left active duty in 1993, continuing his service in the Navy Reserve, where he served with numerous commands from Boston to Norfolk.
In October 2001, Secretary Braithwaite assumed command of Navy Reserve Fleet Combat Camera Atlantic at Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pa. During this tour, the command was tasked with providing support to the Joint Task Force Commander, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In March 2003, Secretary Braithwaite deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom in support of naval operations to capture the port of Umm Qasr. Following this tour, he served as commanding officer of the Navy Office of Information East.
Secretary Braithwaite served as commander, Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Reserve, from October 2004 to October 2007. While in command, and following the devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, he deployed to Pakistan as part of the Joint Task Force for Disaster Assistance, serving as the director of strategic communication working for both the Joint Task Force Commander and the U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad.
In his final Navy assignment, the Secretary served as the Vice Chief of Information. In this capacity, he was the Navy Reserve liaison and advisor to the Chief of Information, responsible for formulating strategic communication counsel to the leadership of the Department of the Navy. Concurrently, he served as the head of the Navy Reserve Public Affairs program and as an adjunct advisor to the commander, Navy Reserve Force.
During periods of inactive service, Secretary Braithwaite served as manager of operations, Atlantic Richfield Chemical Inc.; executive director and senior advisor to U.S. Senator Arlen Specter; vice president of government affairs at Ascension Health, the largest healthcare system in the United States; and executive director, Delaware Valley Healthcare Council in Philadelphia. Following retirement from the Navy Reserve, Secretary Braithwaite served as the regional chief executive of Vizient Inc. and New England, LLC, a member-owned hospital group purchasing organization serving hospitals and health systems throughout the greater eastern seaboard.
The Secretary’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (with oak leaf cluster), Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (five awards) with Combat “V”, Navy Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and numerous campaign and service medals.