James Lee Thompson Smith ("Red” Smith) was born in Chicago and lived in Europe, Africa and Latin America as the son of a career diplomat. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The College of William and Mary which included a year of study abroad at Edinburgh University, and is a distinguished graduate of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was a Federal Executive Fellow and Councilor at the Atlantic Council of the United States.
Red Smith was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy through Officer Candidate School. He served seven tours at sea on destroyers, a frigate, and cruisers. At the United States Naval Academy he taught and served as the Division Director for Professional Development, Chairman of the Seamanship and Navigation Department, and Chairman of the Admissions Board.
Red has had three commands. He was the first Commanding Officer of the AEGIS destroyer USS HIGGINS DDG 76. Red then commanded the AEGIS Cruiser USS PRINCETON CG-59 and was the Air Defense Commander for NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group. During this tour PRINCETON won the SPOKANE Trophy as the most Combat Ready ship in the Pacific Fleet, the third time one of Red’s ships achieved this distinction. His final command was of the Naval Expeditionary Task Force 68/368 based in Rota, Spain and of all US Naval forces conducting theater security cooperation, exercises and operations in the geographic area of North Africa.
He has had multiple Politico-Military assignments; including service as Assistant Branch Head, Western Hemisphere Branch (N523), Politico-Military Affairs, Policy, Plans Division (N3/N5), Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and as a strategic planner in the Strategic Plans and Concepts Branches, Strategy Division, J-5, the Joint Staff. During his Navy career he was designated a proven subspecialist in National Security Affairs. He is a graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College and was designated a Joint Specialty Officer. At the senior staff level Red was the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Sixth Fleet and subsequently served as the Director of Staff for the combined Commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Commander U.S. Sixth Fleet staff in Naples, Italy.
Red Smith served for five years as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander US Naval Forces Europe, Commander US Naval Forces Africa and Commander Sixth Fleet. In this capacity he personally represented or directly supported the commander in substantive discussions with senior defense and foreign policy officials at the Ambassador, Assistant Secretary, General and Flag Officer rank throughout Europe, Africa and the United States.
Currently, Red Smith is the Political Advisor of Striking and Support Forces NATO.