Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.) was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole when it came under a suicide terrorist attack by al Qaeda in the port of Aden, Yemen. During his command, he and his crew distinguished themselves by saving the American war ship from sinking. This event is widely recognized as one of the most brazen acts of terrorism by al Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001. WATCH THIS VIDEO as Commander Lippold recounts that fateful day. In his new book, FRONT BURNER: AL QAEDA'S ATTACK ON THE USS COLE, Commander Lippold reveals the details of his harrowing experience leading a crew of valiant sailors though the deadliest terrorist attack on an American warship in history.
In addition to his distinguished service as the Commanding Officer of USS Cole, Commander Lippold had numerous assignments including Executive Officer of USS Shiloh, an Aegis-class guided missile cruiser. His department head tour was unique in his assignment to the crew that commissioned USS Arleigh Burke, the Navy's first Aegis guided missile destroyer. He served as the Operations Officer responsible for the training and operation of a next generation $1 billion warship with a crew of over 300 Sailors. He had two division officer assignments, which included a tour on USS Yorktown, an Aegis class guided missile cruiser. There, he completed a lengthy seven and a half month deployment to the Mediterranean, where he participated in the Achille Lauro aircraft seizure, Black Sea Freedom of Navigation operations against the Soviet Union, and Attain III combat operations in the Gulf of Sidra off Libya that followed several Libyan sponsored terrorist attacks in Europe. His initial division officer tour was in USS Fairfax County, a tank landing ship, where he completed a deployment to Beirut, Lebanon, in support of the US Marine Corps and the Multinational Peacekeeping Force when terrorists attacked the American Embassy and severely damaged it.
After graduation from Carson City High School, Commander Lippold attended the U.S. Naval Academy and received his commission in the Navy in 1981. He attended the Navy Postgraduate School from 1987 to 1989 where he received a Masters of Science in Systems Engineering (Joint Command, Control and Communications). He is a 1994 graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and is also a 2001 graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College. He has also served as the Administrative Aide to the Secretary of the Navy. He subsequently served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Directorate for Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5), where he was instrumental in crafting detainee policy for the war on terrorism during its initial stages following the 9/11 attacks. His last assignment was in the International Strategy Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N5IS). Commander Lippold retired from the Navy in June 2007.
Commander Kirk Lippold's personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), in addition to various campaign and service ribbons.
With this unique and invaluable experience in this seminal event in the war on terrorism, Commander Lippold moved back to Nevada following retirement and is actively involved in the future of his home state. Commander Lippold serves on the Board of Directors of Military Families United, as well as the Board of Advisors for the National Defense Roundtable and Halo Defense Industries. He has appeared on every major news network speaking about critical national security policy issues including the War on Terror, Guantanamo Bay, anti-piracy operations near the Horn of Africa, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as the ongoing nuclear threat from Iran and North Korea.
Commander Lippold currently serves as the President of Lippold Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in executive leadership development and long-range strategic planning. He also serves as the Vice President for Military Policy and Strategic Development of Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc., a grassroots public affairs firm. Commander Lippold is available for motivational speaking engagements through the Keppler Speakers Bureau and shares his facinating story and keys to managing a crisis scenario. Watch Kirk in action at Keppler events.
Pictures of Kirk through the years