WASHINGTON, D.C — How often can a town Miami’s size be able to claim a Heisman Trophy winner, a Rhodes Scholar, a successful Nashville artist and song writer, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association — and a Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy.
Jeff Trussler, a 1981 MHS grad, joined that prestigious group — Steve Owens, Deacon Turner, Keith Anderson and Todd Berry — when he picked up a third star during a June 5 ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“It was a big surprise when the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) called me back in November and said he was going to nominate me,” Trussler said. “That meant the CNO (Adm. Mike Gilday) said that he wanted me to do that job and be a part of his staff.”
Trussler said the promotion has to go through a formal nomination process involving the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of Defense and then the White House before it goes over to the Senate for confirmation.
“That is something that is like four or five months in the making,” Trussler said. “You know about it. There’s probably not going to be anything for this position that somebody takes you off track for, but you keep it under wraps for a long time.”
The promotion was on June 5 during a ceremony that was held at the National Museum of the United States Navy in Washington.
It doubled as a retirement ceremony for the person Trussler took over for.
Because of COVID-19, the only ones there were his wife, Kirsten, and a former shipmate and his spouse. It was televised on Zoom so his coworkers and others could see.
“Every time, I keep saying this is the last time, but this time it probably really is,” Trussler quipped. “I’ve just been lucky with all the opportunities and assignments that I have had. They have all been challenging, but I have thoroughly enjoyed each one of them.
“I have a great team that works with me.”
A veteran Navy submariner, Trussler has served on numerous nuclear-powered submarines.
His sea and operational assignments included tours as a division officer on the attack submarine USS Honolulu (SSN 718), engineer officer on the fleet ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) and executive officer on the attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762).
He commanded the fleet ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) (Blue) and was the first Commander of Task Force 69 for the U.S. 6th Fleet in Naples, Italy.
His shore assignments included Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), U.S. Pacific Fleet (CINCPACFLT) nuclear propulsion examining board (NPEB), two tours at the Navy Personnel Command (NPC), the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the U.S. Navy Staff in the Pentagon.
As a Navy flag officer (admiral), Trussler served as the first commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC) and as Director, Future Plans on the Navy Staff.
He was commissioned at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1985, completed training at the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida, and the Nuclear Power Training Unit in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
In his new position, Trussler serves as:
• Principal advisor and resource sponsor for the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) (the U.S. Navy’s senior uniformed leader) on matters related to information, command and control (C2), networks, cybersecurity, intelligence, space, electronic warfare (EW), battlespace awareness, oceanography, and precision navigation and timing (PNT).
• Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI), representing the U.S. Navy as one of the 17 National Intelligence Agencies that report to the Director of National Intelligence.
• Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Office (DON CIO) – Navy, setting policies for the Navy’s computer networks and related systems.
He said the biggest role is DCNO for IW.
“We’re part of the Navy team that turns the budget into capabilities for the fleet for the future, what we’re going to invest in to put in our sailor’s hands to make them best prepared should we go to conflict and to support the fleet that we have right now,” Trussler said. “That’s why I was really proud that it gave me the opportunity to join the team because we’ve got a really good plan for our design for maritime superiority.
He said it’s about moving out and executing what is going to position the Navy in the near future and far future in the best position for military dominance.
Trussler is the 68th DNI, a position that dates back to 1882 and is just the eighth non-intelligence officer since World War II and the fifth that was a submariner.
The other four submariners were WWII heroes, including Medal of Honor recipient Gene Fluckey.
“One of the interesting parts of this role is my interactions with counterparts in our ally Navies and I am the sponsor for 194 Naval Attaches from other countries around the world,” Trussler said. “Since we are still dealing with the COVID pandemic and social distancing, I got to address the Naval Attache Association here in D.C. at a monthly breakfast via VTC. They asked a lot of questions about how the U.S. Navy was dealing with the pandemic and how we were continuing to operate around the world at a normal or even greater pace and presence than normal.
“The answer was easy: we rapidly put in a set of procedures to follow, updated and communicated the best practices as we put those procedures in place, and most importantly, we have bold innovative commanders that understood intent and modified to fit their specific units and circumstances and missions. We are a continually learning organization that communicates up, down and across chains of command to get the job done as effectively as possible.”