Captain Donald P. Darnell Jr. USN is a native of Fairfax, Virginia. He attended Fairfax High School and graduated from George Mason University with degrees in Economics and History in 1986. He received his commission via Officers Candidate School in 1987.
Captain Darnell assumed duties as Chief of Staff, Joint Forces Headquarters-Cyber in June of 2015.
Captain Darnell began his career at Naval Security Group Activity (NSGA) Northwest in Chesapeake, VA; there he served as Assistant Cryptologic Readiness Group Officer and later as the Information Systems Division Officer. His next tour was aboard USS FLETCHER (DD-992), where he served as the OUTBOARD Officer / Electronic Warfare Officer and qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer.
In 1992, he was assigned as an intern in the Junior Officer Cryptologic Career Program (JOCCP) at the National Security Agency, Fort Meade, Maryland. Following this tour, CAPT Darnell was assigned as the C4I Manpower Requirements Officer in N122 on the OPNAV Staff.
CAPT Darnell reported to the staff of Commander Carrier Group THREE aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70), and the Flag Cryptologist and CARL VINSON Battlegroup Cryptologic Resources Coordinator in 1998. He deployed to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf and participated in Operation DESERT FOX, Maritime Interdiction Operations and Operation Southern Watch.
In 2000, CAPT Darnell attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion, he was assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, Camp Smith, Hawaii as head of the Information Support Branch and later as Executive Assistant to the Director for Intelligence. Captain Darnell then reported to the Staff of Commander, THIRD Fleet in San Diego, California, where he served as the Fleet Information Operations Officer (J39).
CAPT Darnell assumed command of U.S. Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Misawa and assumed duties as Vice Commander of the Misawa Security Operations Center (MSOC), in June of 2006. He then reported to the OPNAV Staff, as the Deputy for Plans, Policy and Programs (N20B) and later as Executive Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence (N2A).
CAPT Darnell assumed command of the Center for Naval Intelligence and Navy Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in August of 2008. Following this tour, he was assigned as the Director for Intelligence (J2) at the Joint Interagency Task Force South, Key West, Florida. Captain Darnell returned to the OPNAV Staff, as Deputy Director, Unmanned Systems (N2N6 F2), Executive Assistant to the DCNO for Information Dominance and as the Deputy Direction (CIO.)
Captain Darnell's military decorations include: the Legion of Merit with two gold stars, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal with two gold stars. He holds a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence (MSSI) for the Joint Military Intelligence College; and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. Captain Darnell is a designated Joint Specialty Duty Officer.