Retired March 1, 2003.
Gen. Joseph W. Ralston is Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO, Mons, Belgium. As Commander in Chief of U.S. European Command, he is the senior U.S. military officer and commander of a unified combatant command with an area of responsibility that includes 89 nations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He supports and advances U.S. interests and policies throughout the command's area of responsibility, and provides combat-ready forces to NATO's Allied Command Europe or other U.S. unified commands. He conducts operations unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners. The U.S. European Command is responsible for the activities of all U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps forces operating within its area of responsibility. As the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, he is in overall command of NATO's military forces in Europe -- Allied Command Europe. Responsible for safeguarding an area extending from the northern tip of Norway to the eastern border of Turkey, the SACEUR's mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of the NATO member nations. In his position as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the general is also the overall commander of approximately 65,000 troops from 39 NATO and other nations participating in ongoing operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.
The general entered the Air Force in 1965 through the ROTC program. His career includes operational command at squadron, wing, numbered air force and major command, as well as various influential staff and management positions at every level of the Air Force. He has been closely involved with building the U.S. Air Force of the 21st century, holding a variety of positions related to requirements and acquisition. Prior to assuming his current position, the general was the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation's second highest-ranking military officer. He is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours, including 147 combat missions over Laos and North Vietnam.
1965 Bachelor of arts degree in chemistry, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
1976 Master of arts degree in personnel management, Central Michigan University
1976 Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
1984 National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
1989 John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
1. July 1965 - August 1966, student, pilot training, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas
2. August 1966 - April 1967, student, F-105 combat crew training school, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
3. April 1967 - October 1969, F-105 combat crew member, 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron, later 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan
4. October 1969 - December 1969, student, F-105 Wild Weasel pilot training, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
5. January 1970 - October 1970, F-105 Wild Weasel pilot, 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand
6. October 1970 - December 1971, F-105 Wild Weasel instructor pilot, 66th Fighter Weapons Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
7. December 1971 - June 1973, Fighter Requirements Officer and Project Officer for F-15 and lightweight fighter programs, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
8. June 1973 - June 1975, Assistant Operations Officer, 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron, then Chief, Standardization and Evaluation Division, 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.
9. June 1975 - June 1976, student, Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
10. June 1976 - July 1979, Tactical Fighter Requirements Officer, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
11. July 1979 - July 1980, Operations Officer, later, Commander, 68th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
12. July 1980 - August 1983, Special Assistant, later, Executive Officer to the commander, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
13. August 1983 - June 1984, student, National War College, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
14. June 1984 - February 1986, Special Assistant for low observables technology, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
15. February 1986 - March 1987, Commander, 56th Tactical Training Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
16. March 1987 - June 1990, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, later, Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements, Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
17. June 1990 - December 1991, Director of Tactical Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Washington, D.C.
18. December 1991 - July 1992, Director of Operational Requirements, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
19. July 1992 - July 1994, Commander, Alaskan Command, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, 11th Air Force and Joint Task Force Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska
20. July 1994 - June 1995, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
21. June 1995 - February 1996, Commander, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va.
22. March 1996 - April 2000, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C.
23. May 2000 - present, Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO, Mons, Belgium
Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 2,500
Aircraft flown: F-105D/F/G, F-4C/D/E, F-16A and F-15A/C
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with 19 oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant Jul 24, 1965
First Lieutenant Jan 24, 1967
Captain Jul 24, 1968
Major Dec 1, 1973
Lieutenant Colonel Apr 1, 1978
Colonel Jun 1, 1981
Brigadier General Mar 1, 1988
Major General Aug 1, 1990
Lieutenant General Jul 13, 1992
General Jul 1, 1995