Born and raised in Seattle, Rear Adm. Brett Heimbigner is a 1987 graduate of the University of Washington and a 2002 graduate of the Naval War College.
Heimbigner’s operational tours include Attack Squadron (VA) 94 embarked aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and Carrier Air Wing 7 as the wing intelligence officer (N2) embarked on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Over multiple deployments, he supported strikes against Iran and Iraq. He was the first milestone screened Navy Special Warfare Development Group director of intelligence (J2) (N2) and the first Navy Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) deputy and acting J2. Between 2004 and 2009, Heimbigner deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq for nearly three years as a special operations task force J2 directing advanced intelligence counter-terrorism and hostage rescue ISR operations. He designed and initiated several innovative Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations structures within Navy Special Warfare and JSOC, including the JSOC Intelligence Brigade.
Heimbigner’s shore tours consist of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Attack Squadron 128/Medium Attack Weapons School Pacific (MAWSPAC), European Command’s Joint Analysis Center as the Chief of Target Analysis, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander, Joint Intelligence Command Central.
As a flag officer, he was the first flag North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command J2. Heimbigner rapidly advanced the partnership with the Mexican military in its fight against transnational criminal organizations and intelligence support to US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) operations to counter emerging threats from North Korea and Iran’s ICBM programs. As the first Navy CIA deputy director for the National Clandestine Service for Community Human Intelligence, Heimbigner initiated a series of interagency activities to shift the human intelligence community towards penetrating hard targets and also created the first interagency cyber deconfliction element.
In 2014, Heimbigner was appointed the director of intelligence for the NATO International Military Staff reporting to the chairman of the Military Committee in Brussels. He was the senior military intelligence officer in NATO and the first Navy flag officer to assume this recently elevated position during a period of rapidly advancing threats and attacks against the alliance. He won the support from the NATO Chiefs of Defense for a series of indications and warning/ISR initiatives to adapt allied and partner intelligence activities.
Heimbigner’s awards include the CIA’s Donovan Award, Director DIA’s Award, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation (two awards), and multiple Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.