Military Bios

Rear Admiral William H. Payne:

Military Branch:United States Navy
Position: Special Operations (SEAL) Director of Operations, Center for Special Operations,
Rear Admiral William H. Payne, Special Operations (SEAL), U.S. Naval Reserve, is the Director of Operations, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. The Center brings together those elements of the U.S. Special Operations Command that focus on the “war fighter.” The Center’s mission is to collaborate with the Geographic Combatant Commanders and Interagency partners on current and future special operations. Rear Adm. Payne previously served as Vice Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, Deputy for Reserve Forces, before assuming his current position in September 2003.
Rear Adm. Payne was raised in Albuquerque, N.M., and following completion of undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of New Mexico, entered the Navy in 1975. Upon commissioning in February 1976, he reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif. Rear Adm. Payne then completed operational and department head duties with Underwater Demolition Team Eleven and SEAL Team One, including independent duty with foreign Special Forces, drafted the SEAL Cold Weather Operations Manual, and was AOIC of one of the largest peacetime underwater demolition projects in Navy history, supporting Defense Nuclear Agency reclamation efforts at Enewetok Atoll.
Assigned to the United States Naval Academy as a company officer in 1981, his company was recognized as most improved in the brigade his first year aboard. In June 1983, he was selected to serve as an Intern with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rear Adm. Payne was assigned to the Deputy Director for Politico/Military Affairs as the South Asia desk officer. Chosen in 1984 for the Navy’s Advanced Education Program, Rear Adm. Payne pursued full time graduate studies at Georgetown University where he received a master’s in Government with a certificate in National Security Studies. Following graduation, he was selected a proven Politico/Military sub-specialist (Middle East/South Asia/Africa). His last active duty assignment was as Operations Officer for Naval Special Warfare Unit One, Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.
Entering law school at the University of New Mexico in 1987, Rear Adm. Payne’s initial reserve assignments included Executive Officer NR-AE-25 (Haleakala), COMSEVENTHFLT 111 Special Warfare Plans Officer, and Commanding Officer NR-AD 43 (Cape Cod), which was chosen REDCOM 11 Reserve Unit of the Year. Rear Adm. Payne next served three years as an IMA with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-3 Special Operations Division, Combating Terrorism Branch. During this period he was recalled to active duty on the Joint Staff for Operation Desert Storm, and subsequently completed several extended periods on active duty for other operations including early Bosnia and Somalia intervention efforts.
He returned to Coronado in 1993 as Joint Operations Coordinator for NR-Naval Special Warfare Command, serving as Commanding Officer NR-SEAL Team Five. In October 1996, he assumed command of United States Special Operations Command Detachment 108, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. During this period, he was selected for the LANTFLT Senior Reserve Officers Course. Rear Adm. Payne next served as reserve Commodore for Special Boat Squadron One, Coronado, from October 1998 to September 2001, then as Commander Naval Special Warfare Command (Reserve) from October 2001 to September 2003. His commands have received the Naval Surface Reserve Force FY-97/98/00/01 Captain Leo V. Bilger awards for High Mission Effectiveness.
Rear Adm. Payne’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Navy Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and permanent award of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Service Badge.
In civilian life, Rear Admiral Payne is an attorney and a New Mexico State Senator.
Effective: 26 May 2004


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