That reading selection ultimately impacted the future direction of his life.
After graduating from Annapolis, Stephenson served our nation for more than 25 years as a naval intelligence officer, filling some of the most storied assignments in the community.
For almost three decades, he has worn the Navy uniform, but soon his wardrobe will change. His retirement ceremony will be conducted Friday (August 14) at U.S. Transportation Command, his final tour of duty, with his wife, Jenny, and four children in attendance.
Stephenson has served as Director of Intelligence (TCJ2) and Commanding Officer of the Navy Element at USTRANSCOM since he arrived in May 2018. While leading USTRANSCOM’s intelligence team, Stephenson helped evolve the command's corporate culture to more of a warfighting focus, necessitated by the increasing capability of peer competitors to contest America’s ability to project power globally. Along the way, Stephenson increased external funding for TCJ2, enhanced the directorate’s product line, and improved support to the command’s Global Operations Center and senior leadership.
“The fundamental task for intelligence at USTRANSCOM is to understand the contested environment and how it affects current operations and long-term plans. I believe we – TCJ2 – have advanced the ball in that realm the past two years,” said Stephenson. “General Lyons (USTRANSCOM commander) has identified the cyber domain as one of our key vulnerabilities.
Improving our ability to provide actionable intelligence to leadership for tactical-level actions in the cyber domain and long-term planning for mission assurance will remain among the foremost challenges of TCJ2.”
Stephenson also acknowledged the challenge of transitioning from his operational intelligence background to leading TCJ2, which supports a staff with global responsibilities and, representing one of only 11 Combatant Commands in the Department of Defense, operates in a high echelon of the national intelligence community. On the other hand, he stressed the professional growth and sense of accomplishment from completing an assignment at that level.
A fellow TCJ2 member familiar with Stephenson’s impact on, and influence in, the directorate and command has been Dalton Jones, deputy director of intelligence.
" Captain Stephenson took over the J2 soon after a major reorganization and guided the directorate through the storming and norming phases to emerge on rival with those supporting other Combatant Commands within the Department of Defense," stated Jones.
Prior to his USTRANSCOM assignment, Stephenson was the Director of Intelligence and Deputy Director of the Maritime Operations Center at U.S. Fifth Fleet (NAVCENT), Manama, Bahrain—the same unit as his first assignment from 1996 to 1998. He also led intelligence teams as “N2” for Norfolk, Virginia-based Carrier Strike Group EIGHT and Amphibious Squadron EIGHT in separate assignments. His first sea-going tour was as a junior officer with Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN, during which he was based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
While assigned to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from 2010 to 2013, he worked in the Joint Intelligence Operations Center at U.S. Central Command as chief of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Threats Branch and Iran Analysis Division. Stephenson also served as senior intelligence analyst at the Combined Joint Intelligence Operations Center in Kabul, Afghanistan.
During his quarter century of naval service, Stephenson completed four deployments in the Central, Southern, and Pacific Commands’ areas of responsibility, and spent a total of more than six years living overseas in Japan and Bahrain.
For the next chapter, Stephenson has no definitive plans as of yet, but wants to remain in the St. Louis metropolitan area, spend more time with his family, and continue contributing to the nation’s security.
“I’m very proud of having served in USTRANSCOM and the opportunity to lead the incredible group of people in TCJ2. Although we’re the smallest Joint Intelligence Operations Center in the Department of Defense, we meet the IC’s highest standards, and we have potential advantages in agility and creativity,” Stephenson said. “I’m fortunate to be able to finish my career with such a great assignment in a great organization.”
USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the Joint Force, we advance American interests around the globe, and we provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.