James B. Smith was sworn in on September 16, 2009, as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Smith had served in a variety of executive positions with Raytheon Company involving corporate strategic planning, aircraft manufacturing, and international business development.
Ambassador Smith was a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy’s Class of 1974 and received the Richard I. Bong award as the Outstanding Cadet in Military History. He received his Masters in History from Indiana University in 1975, and is also a distinguished graduate from the Naval War College, the Air Command and Staff College and the National War College.
Ambassador Smith spent a 28 year career in the United States Air Force. Trained as a fighter pilot, he logged over 4000 hours of flight time in F-15s and T-38s. He served around the world in a variety of operational assignments and flew combat missions from Dhahran AB during Operation Desert Storm. He commanded the 94th Fighter Squadron, the 325th Operations Group and the 18th Fighter Wing (Kadena AB, Okinawa). In addition, he served in a variety of staff assignments involving coalition partners, and served as Air Force Chair and Professor of Military Strategy at the National War College. During his final assignment at U.S. Joint Forces Command, he led Millennium Challenge, the largest transformation experiment in history. He was promoted to Brigadier General in October, 1998, and retired from the Air Force on October 1, 2002.