A native of Hinsdale, Illinois, Rear Adm. Matt Zirkle is a 1985 graduate of the University of California at San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics/Computer Science. He also holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Cornell University.
After receiving his commission from Naval Officer Candidate School, Zirkle was assigned to USS Parche (SSN 683). He also made deployments aboard USS Pintado (SSN 672) and USS Pogy (SSN 647).
In 1989, Zirkle affiliated with the Navy Reserve and since then commanded nine reserve units. His tours of duty include leadership roles in the Submarine Force, Naval Coastal Warfare, Naval Forces Korea, Office of Naval Research, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Command.
Zirkle returned to active duty in 2006 serving on the OPNAV staff as a Navy Crisis Action Team chief at the Pentagon, monitoring all U.S. Navy operations and events worldwide. In 2009, he mobilized as chief of staff, Commander, Task Force Iraqi Maritime in Bahrain directing a headquarters staff of U.S. and Royal Navy personnel responsible for the protection of Iraq’s oil terminals and territorial waters as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
As commander, Submarines NATO, Zirkle is responsible for the operational tasking of all submarines assigned to the Alliance. He assumed command in January 2015.
His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal (four awards).