Rear Adm. Robert C. Nowakowski is a native of Chicago and is the son of a Korean/Vietnam war veteran and grandson of a WWII veteran. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and holds a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from San Diego State University, a Master of Business Administration from California State University San Marcos, and a Technical Engineer Program Management Certification from Stanford University.
A designated surface warfare officer and joint qualified officer, Nowakowski earned his Joint Professional Military Education from the Air University’s Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base and Joint Forces Staff College. He is a graduate of the Navy Senior Leadership Seminar course and a member of the Secretary of the Navy’s National Navy Reserve Policy Board.
His sea duty assignment was aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), where he served as auxiliaries/electrical officer, first lieutenant and assistant operations officer on two combat deployments in support of Operations Northern and Southern Watch. His shore duty assignment was as course manager for the battle group/task group anti-submarine warfare (ASW) courses at Fleet ASW Training Center Pacific in San Diego, California.
Affiliating with the Navy Reserve in 2000, Nowakowski’s initial assignment was as training officer, U.S. 3rd Fleet Naval Cooperation and Protection of Shipping. Other staff assignments include tours as the training officer, Military Sealift Command (MSC) Pacific; communications officer and maritime information team curriculum development officer, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping Detachment Delta; operations officer, MSC Central Command Headquarters; reserve chief of staff, Commander Naval Surface Force; and deputy commander, Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command. Additionally, he served for two years as the deputy director, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), responsible for the reserve manning, training and equipping of the 1000-billet LCS surface reserve force enterprise.
His mobilizations include deputy branch chief, engagements division (J5E) and director of training (J7), Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) in Djibouti, Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
His four reserve unit command tours include LCS Seaframe Detachment 103, U.S. 3rd Fleet Joint Forces Maritime Component Command Detachment Phoenix; Commander Navy Region Southwest Regional Operations Center; and Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters.
His previous flag officer assignments include deputy commander, Naval Education and Training Command Force Development and deputy commander, Navy Recruiting Command from October 2019 to September 2021. He served as the Navy's Global Mine Warfare Commander (MIWC) from November 2020 to May 2021 and Commander, Task Force LCS from April 2021 to May 2022.
His awards include the Legion of Merit (five awards), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (seven awards), Navy Achievement Medal (three awards), Navy Battle Efficiency ‘E’ (two awards), Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (four awards) and various service, expeditionary, unit and campaign awards.