Adm. Robert Burke is a native of Portage, Michigan, and holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in electrical engineering from Western Michigan University and the University of Central Florida.
Burke's operational assignments include service aboard both attack and ballistic missile submarines, including USS Von Steuben (SSBN 632), USS Maryland (SSBN 738) and USS Bremerton (SSN 698). He commanded USS Hampton (SSN 767) in Norfolk, Virginia, and was commodore of Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 12 in Groton, Connecticut.
His staff assignments include tours as an instructor and director for the Electrical Engineering Division at Naval Nuclear Power School, junior board member on the Pacific Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board, submarine officer community manager/nuclear officer program manager; senior Tactical Readiness Evaluation Team member at Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; deputy director for Operations, Strategy and Policy Directorate (J5) at United States Joint Forces Command; division director, Submarine/Nuclear Power Distribution (PERS-42); and director, Joint and Fleet Operations, N3/N5, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
As a flag officer, Burke has served as deputy commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; director of operations (N3), U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa; commander, Submarine Group 8; director, Military Personnel Plans and Policy (OPNAV N13) and most recently as the Navy's 58th chief of naval personnel, where he served concurrently as deputy chief of naval operations (Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education) (N1).
He assumed duties as the Navy's 40th vice chief of naval operations, June 10, 2019. He is a senior naval advisor to the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations.
His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (five awards) and various campaign and unit awards. Naval Submarine League recognized Burke with the Jack Darby Award for Leadership in 2004. Burke also received the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership in 2005.
Burke was relieved by Adm. William K. Lescher as Vice Chief of Naval Operations June 8, 2020.