Commander, combined task force
Vice Adm. John D. Alexander is a native of Port Neches, Texas. He was commissioned in December 1982 through the Aviation Officer Candidate program and designated a naval flight officer in November 1983. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Texas Tech University and a Master of Arts in defense studies from King’s College, University of London as well as completing the Royal Naval Staff College course, in Greenwich, England, and the U.S. Navy Nuclear Propulsion program.
As a flag officer, he served as director, maritime operations for U.S. Fleet Forces Command; commander, Battle Force U.S. 7th Fleet (CTF 70/CSG 5), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); and as assistant commander for career management (PERS-4), Navy Personnel Command.
Command tours include the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135; USS Juneau (LPD 10), forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan; and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
Alexander completed sea duty assignments as an A-6E bombardier/navigator with Attack Squadrons (VA) 165, VA-155 and VA-196. Additional operational tours included staff duty with Cruiser Destroyer Group (DESGRU) 3 as well as executive officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
Ashore, he served as executive assistant to the director, Joint Staff; as the aviation commander detailer (PERS-431); and as an A-6E instructor with VA-128.
In September 2017, he became the 29th commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet.
Alexander has accumulated more than 3,200 flight hours with over 700 carrier-arrested landings. He is a distinguished alumni and distinguished engineer at Texas Tech University. Personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and other various campaign and service awards.
Royal Canadian Navy
Deputy commander, combined task force
Rear Adm. Bob Auchterlonie is a native of Cumberland, British Columbia. He entered the Canadian Forces in 1987 as a Regular Officer Training Plan cadet and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), Kingston, in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and as captain of the varsity hockey team.
Auchterlonie completed Maritime Surface Classification training in 1992 and spent the bulk of the next two decades at sea aboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship’s in both the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets.
Command tours include HMCS Fredericton (2007-2009), Canadian Forces Base, Esquimalt (2012-2013) and the Canadian Pacific Fleet (2013-2015).
Auchterlonie has served three tours at the National Defense Headquarters; as a staff officer within the Naval Staff; as director within the Vice Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Program; and director general within the Strategic Joint Staff. He was promoted to his current rank and assumed his appointment as deputy commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command in the summer of 2016.
He is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, the Naval Command College at the U.S. Naval War College and has completed a master’s degree in defense studies through RMC, Kingston. Auchterlonie was invested as an Officer of the Order of Military Merit in 2013.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Vice commander, combined task force
Rear Adm. Hideyuki Oban is a native of Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the National Defense Academy in 1986 and reported to Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) Officer Candidate School in 1987. He also attended MSDF Staff College in 2001 and Joint Staff College in 2006.
Oban served at Assignment Division, Maritime Staff Office (MSO); Escort Flotilla One; and he commanded JMSDF Asagiri-class destroyer JS Amagiri (DD 154).
He served as chief of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) Systems Section at C4I Systems Department MSO; chief of Assignment Section at Assignment Division MSO and MSDF Staff College; director of Analysis Office, Plans and Programs Division MSO; Commander, Escort Division 4; staff officer (Plan, Policy) at Self-Defense Fleet; chief training staff at Fleet Escort Force; and most recently as commander, Fleet Training Command.
Oban currently serves as Commander, Escort Flotilla Two, since December 2017.
He was awarded the 1st Commendation in December 2011 for counter-piracy operations.
Commander, operational force
Rear Adm. Darren J. Hanson graduated from the University of Washington in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. Following commissioning at Officer Candidate School in 1988, he completed Surface Warfare and Nuclear Propulsion training and entered the fleet in 1991.
Hanson’s first tour was aboard PCU George Washington (CVN 73) during which he was certified as an engineer by Naval Reactors. He then served aboard USS Halsey (CG 23) as deck officer and deployed to the Arabian Gulf. Follow on tours included the Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and operations officer aboard USS Sacramento (AOE 1).
In 1998, he transferred to the Navy Reserve with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit 17. Over a six-year period, he completed U.S. Navy Dive School and served as an ordnance clearance detachment officer in charge and executive officer. He was mobilized for local harbor security operations following Sept. 11, 2001.
His reserve commands include Submarine Group 9 Force Protection Detachment 1, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 101, Maritime Expeditionary (now Coastal Riverine) Squadron 11, and CNFK Reserve Headquarters.
In 2008, Hanson attended the U.S. Naval War College in resident and received a Master of Arts in strategic studies and full joint professional military education qualification. He mobilized to U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany, in the J3 and J5 directorates.
In 2012, while in command of CRS 11, he deployed to United Arab Emirates as commander, Task Group 56.7, providing security for U.S. ships and maritime infrastructure.
Hanson reported as deputy commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet in October 2017.
His decorations include the Legion of Merit, expert pistol and rifle marksman, and various campaign and service medals.
Hanson also serves as a professional firefighter.
Armada de Chile
Combined forces maritime component commander
Cdre. Pablo Niemann joined the Chilean Navy in 1983 and graduated from the Chilean Naval Academy in 1988. He has also attended the Chilean Navy Polytechnic Academy, graduating in 1994 as a Naval Electronics Engineer and the Naval Staff College in Valparaiso. He was selected for the Naval Command College international officers program at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. After completing the program, he remained as an international fellow instructor, completing a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina University.
Cdre. Pablo Niemann was promoted to his current rank in December 2017 and assumed his current positon as head of the Chilean Navy Training Center in Valparaiso in December 2014.
Command tours include the fast-attack boat Guardiamarina Riquelme (LM-36), the Fast-Attack Boat Squadron based at Iquique and the Leander-class Frigate Almirante Condell (FFG-06).
Other sea-duty assignments include the Training Ship Esmeralda (BE-43) as a Midshipman; as Sub-Lt., he served as bridge watch keeper aboard the fleet tanker Araucano (AO-53); as a 2nd-Lt., he served as electronic warfare officer and was in charge of the ship’s C2 system aboard the Almirante Latorre (FFG-114); Lt. Niemann was part of the acquisition project and first crew, serving as PWO and executive officer (XO) of the fast-attack boat Teniente Orella (LM-37); he successfully completed his PWO course aboard the Leander-class Frigate Almirante Lynch (FFG-07); and he served as XO aboard the Leander-class Frigate Almirante Condell (FFG-06).
Additional duty assignments include liaison officer for the Chilean Navy to U.S. 3rd Fleet aboard USS Coronado (AGF 11), based at San Diego in 2003. He was also an instructor at the Chilean Naval Academy for the Midshipmen class of 1990.
Royal Canadian Navy
Deputy, combined forces maritime component commander
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Capt. Matthew Coates is a maritime surface and subsurface officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. He graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada, in 1998, with a degree in electrical engineering and from Salve Regina University, in 2010, with a master’s in management.
Coates has held numerous staff and sea-going appointments, deploying multiple times on operations around the globe. Highlights include a 2011 deployment as executive officer aboard Halifax-class frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) in support of NATO operations off the coast of Libya, his appointment in 2013 as the commanding officer of the Tribal-class Destroyer HMCS Iroquois (DDG 280), and in command of Sea Training Atlantic where he was responsible for at-sea ship-readiness and certification training.
Coates is a two-time graduate of the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he attended the Naval Staff College (class of 2010) and Naval Command College (class of 2017).
Royal Australian Air Force
Combined forces air component commander
Air Cdre. Craig Heap joined the RAAF in 1984 as a direct entry pilot. On graduation from 132 Pilots Course in 1985, he posted to No. 34 Squadron as a VIP aircraft copilot for one year. In 1987, he completed the aircraft systems course at the School of Air Navigation before posting to No. 5 Squadron as an Iroquois helicopter pilot. In 1989, with the demise of the RAAF helicopter fleet, Heap transitioned to P-3Cs with No. 292 Squadron, flying with No. 11 Squadron until 1993, highlighted by his selection as Maritime Patrol Wing 92 display pilot for the RAAF 70th Anniversary.
In 1993, Heap posted to No. 2 Flying Training School as a qualified flying instructor (QFI). In 1994, he returned to No. 292 Squadron in 1994 as a P-3C QFI, teaching for 18 months before moving onto No. 11 Squadron as the QFI, resuming his role of Maritime Patrol Wing 92 display pilot for the RAAF 75th Anniversary Airshow.
On promotion to Squadron Leader in 1996, he served as No. 11 Squadron QFI, the B flight commander and detachment commander on numerous joint and combined exercises and operations, both in Australia and overseas.
In 1998, Heap posted to the Central Flying School as the A flight commander in charge of the RAAF Flying Instructors Course. In 2000, he promoted to the Chief Flying Instructor, Central Flying School, responsible for the conduct of all flying operations within the school including; roulette training and operations; overseeing the pure flying and instructional standards of all QFIs in the Australian Defense Force; in addition to facilitating the RAAF flying supervisors course.
In 2001, Heap was selected to attend the Canadian Forces Command and Staff Course in Toronto, Canada, and on return to Australia in 2002 posted to Weston Creek, Canberra, as a member of the directing staff of the new Australian Command and Staff College. For the majority of his tenure at the college, he was the manager of the joint operations module, instructing course members in the planning and conduct of large scale coalition operations.
In 2005, Heap was awarded the Chief of Defense Force Commendation for his service to the Australian Command and Staff College.
Royal Canadian Air Force
Deputy, combined forces air component commander
Col. Mike Atkins enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1985. He attended the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Saint-Jean before graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from RMC Kingston in 1990.
Following pilot training, Atkins posted to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 423 at Shearwater, Nova Scotia, operating on several of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships and deploying twice to Europe before making the transition to the search and rescue (SAR) community. Operational postings include SAR pilot with Transport and Rescue Squadron (T&R) 424; air coordinator at Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax; A3 SAR Readiness with First Canadian Air Division (1 CAD) Winnipeg; and cormorant flight commander with T&R Squadron 413, en route to his appointment as commanding officer of T&R Squadron 413.
Following command, Atkins posted to the air staff readiness section in Ottawa. He then deployed to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, serving initially as the director of plans and then as the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commander Police, Ministerial Advisory Group. Upon return, he posted as the Director Strategic Engagement on the Strategic Joint Staff at the Canadian National Defense Headquarters.
Atkins is a graduate of the National Security Program at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. He has also attended the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham, England, earned a master’s degree in defense studies from King’s College, London, and an MBA from Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada.
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
Fleet marine force component commander
Brig. Gen. Hashimoto was born and raised in Honolulu. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Stanford University and a Master of Business Administration from UCLA before commissioning through the Officer Candidate Class Ground program in 1992.
Hashimoto served on active duty from 1992 to 1998 as an infantry officer with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines and 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, where he deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit as the Force Reconnaissance Platoon Commander before transitioning to the Marine Corps Reserve.
From August 1998 until September 2003 he was a platoon commander and operations officer with 4th Force Reconnaissance Company and was mobilized in early 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. From September 2003 to August 2007 he was a member of the Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) Detachment at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC).
From August 2007 to August 2009 he served as the commanding officer of 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, headquartered in San Antonio. He then returned to the MARFORPAC IMA Detachment until assuming duties as deputy commander, 23d Marine Regiment, headquartered in San Bruno, California, from October 2012 to March 2015. After a third tour with the MARFORPAC IMA Detachment he assumed duties as the Reserve deputy director of the MAGTF Staff Training Program, headquartered in Quantico, Virginia from September 2017 until his promotion to brigadier general in March 2018. He is currently assigned as deputy commanding general, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (Mobilization).
He is a graduate of the USMC Amphibious Warfare School Non-Resident Program, the USMC Command and Staff College Distance Education Program, the Air War College Distance Learning Program, and the Joint Forces Staff College Advanced Joint Professional Military Education program.
As a civilian he has held plans and policy billets within HQ, MARFORPAC at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, since March 2000. He currently oversees deliberate planning, future operations planning, and force deployment planning and execution within the G357 Division.