John M. (“Jay”) Paxton is employed as a Highly Qualified Expert - Senior Mentor for the Joint Staff J7 in support of Combatant Command and Joint Task Force Operations and Exercises. He is also employed as a Senior Fellow for the National Defense University in support of the Pinnacle, Capstone, and Keystone programs. Additional federal government work includes membership on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Defense Analysis, an FFRDC, where he concurrently serves as a Senior Fellow in support of the Defense Science Study Group.
General Paxton was born in Chester, PA and raised in nearby Broomall. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a Bachelor of Science (1973) and Master of Civil Engineering (1974). He then attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Initial assignments in the operating forces included Rifle and Weapons Platoon Commander and Company Executive Officer in Co. B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines followed by Regimental Training Officer for 4th Marines and then Executive Officer, Co. G, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. As a Captain he commanded Co. L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. This was preceded and succeeded by service as Battalion Operations Officer. As a Major and LtCol he served as an Operations and Exercise Officer in II MEF and subsequently commanded 1st Battalion, 8th Marines for 27 months. They were redesignated BLT 1/8 and deployed with 22nd MEU in 1993-94 as Landing Force Sixth Fleet in support of stability operations in Bosnia and later as United Nations Quick Reaction Force in Mogadishu, Somalia. Returning to II MEF he served briefly as Deputy G-3 Operations for 2nd Marine Division. As a Colonel, Paxton returned to Camp Pendleton and 1st Marine Division where he was the G-3 Division Operations officer for one year followed by command of 1st Marine Regiment for two years.
His non-fleet tours include Marine Barracks, Washington, DC where he commanded Company B as a Captain and Marine Corps Recruiting Station New York which he commanded for three years as a Major. He served in Plans Division for the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations as a LtCol. This was followed by a tour as the Executive Assistant and Marine Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy. Paxton was also designated a Joint Qualified Officer and served initially as Amphibious Operations Officer and concurrently as Executive Officer of the Crisis Action Team at Combined Forces/United States Forces/United Nations Command, Korea.
As a general officer, Paxton served initially as Director, Programs Division, Deputy Commandant Programs and Resources. This was followed by three years as Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region. He then assumed command of 1st Marine Division for a year followed by a subsequent year as Chief of Staff for Multi-National Forces – Iraq. He returned to the Joint Staff for just under three years serving most of that tour as J-3, Director of Operations. Returning to the Marine Corps, he assumed command of II Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander Marine Forces Africa. That was succeeded as Commanding General Marine Corps Forces Command, Commanding General Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, and Commander Marine Forces Europe. He was promoted to General on 15 Dec 2012 and served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps until his retirement in August of 2016, completing over 42 years of commissioned service.
General Paxton is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He also served as a Commandant’s Fellow at the Brookings Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife Debbie. They are the proud parents of three adult children.