General C. Robert “Bob” Kehler, USAF (ret)
General C. Robert “Bob” Kehler retired from the United States Air Force in December, 2013.
Prior to his retirement, he was the Commander of United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. In that role he was directly responsible to the Secretary of Defense and President for the plans and operations of all U. S. forces conducting global strategic deterrence, nuclear alert, global strike, space, cyberspace and associated operations. While in command, he crafted and implemented critical elements of policies and plans to deter strategic attacks against the U.S. and its key allies, and led a joint team of over 60,000 military and civilians in multiple global operations. He also integrated Department of Defense (DOD) activities for global missile defense, combating weapons of mass destruction, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. His forces directly supported combat operations in Southwest Asia and North Africa.
General Kehler’s military career spanned almost thirty-nine years of service that included progressively important operational and staff assignments. He had a broad range of operational experience in Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), space launch, space control, space surveillance and missile warning units and was one of a very few officers to command at the squadron, group, wing, major command, and combatant command levels. Before taking command of Strategic Command, General Kehler commanded Air Force Space Command where he organized, trained, and equipped over 46,000 professionals conducting mission-ready nuclear missile, space, and cyberspace operations. In that role, he designed the Air Force’s inaugural blueprint, operating concept, organizational structure, and personnel program to meet rapidly growing cyberspace challenges and served as the US Air Force component commander for US Strategic Command.
His staff and joint assignments included tours with the Air Staff, Strategic Air Command, Air Force Space Command, and the Joint Staff. He was also assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force’s Office of Legislative Liaison where he was the point man on Capitol Hill for matters regarding President Reagan’s ICBM Modernization Program. As Director of the National Security Space Office, General Kehler integrated the activities of a number of DOD and Intelligence Community organizations on behalf of the Undersecretary of the Air Force and Director, National Reconnaissance Office.
General Kehler entered the Air Force in 1975 as a Distinguished Graduate of the Pennsylvania State University ROTC program, has master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma in Public Administration and the Naval War College in National Security and Strategic Studies, and completed executive level programs at Carnegie-Mellon University, Syracuse University, and Harvard University.
General Kehler’s military awards include the Defense Distinguished and Superior Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), Legion of Merit (3 awards), and the French Legion of Honor (Officer). He wears Command Space and ICBM Operations Badges. His other honors include the Thomas D. White Space Award (recognizing outstanding contributions to space) and the H. H. Arnold Award (for the most significant contribution by a military member for national defense), both presented by the Air Force Association.
General Kehler currently consults and serves on a number of corporate boards. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Pennsylvania State University, where he also serves as a member of the Advisory Board for Outreach and Online Education. A Senior Fellow of the National Defense University and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, he has testified before numerous Congressional Committees and speaks widely on matters of national security. Recently he was the S. T. Lee Visiting Lecturer at Stanford University’s Center for Strategic and International Security and Cooperation for academic year 2014-15. General Kehler and his wife Marjorie have two grown sons and a grandson. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, target shooting, and playing the guitar.