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Richard F. Natonski is a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general who is currently serving as the Commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. He assumed the post in August 2008, having previously served as the United States Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations from 2006. He succeeded retiring Lt. Gen. Jan C. Huly on November 7, 2006.Previously he was Commanding General of the 1st Marine Division, assuming the command on August 20, 2004.


Richard Natonski graduated from the University of Louisvillemarker in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.

Upon completion of The Basic School in 1974, Lieutenant Natonski served as a platoon commander and executive officer with Company H, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. There he participated in Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations in Cambodiamarker (Operation Eagle Pull) and in South Vietnam (Operation Frequent Wind).

Transferring to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diegomarker in July 1975, Lieutenant Natonski was assigned as a series commander in Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion and subsequently as the battalion operations officer. In April 1978, Captain Natonski was transferred to Marine Barracks, 8th and Imarker, where he served as executive and commanding officer of Company B.

Upon completion of this tour in Washington, D.C.marker in 1981, he spent the summer as a platoon commander at Officer Candidate School prior to attending the Amphibious Warfare School in Quanticomarker, Virginia.

In July 1982, he was assigned as the operations officer for 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendletonmarker, California. Subsequent to his tour in the 1st Marine Division, Major Natonski was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps in July 1984, where he served in the Ground Combat Requirements Branch of the Plans, Policy, and Operations Department. From 1987 to 1988, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

Following his instruction at Quantico, he was assigned as an Observer to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. Upon completion of this tour in June 1989, he was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Pointmarker, North Carolina, where he was assigned as the G-3 plans officer.

In July 1991, Lieutenant Colonel Natonski was transferred to 2nd Marine Division, where he served as the executive officer of the 2nd Marine Regiment until assuming command of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines in May 1992. As commanding officer, he participated in Operation GTMO, a humanitarian relief mission for Haitianmarker migrants in Cubamarker and Operations Restore Hope and Operation Continue Hope in Somaliamarker. He completed his tour in the Division as the deputy G-3.

From 1994 to 1995 he attended the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italymarker. Colonel Natonski served in the II Marine Expeditionary Force Operations Section until assuming command of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in October 1995. Colonel Natonski made two deployments as MEU commander supporting operations in Bosniamarker and Kuwaitmarker. In May 1998, he gave up command of the MEU and reported to the Joint Staff in The Pentagonmarker where he was assigned duties as the chief of the Central Command Division, Joint Staff (J-3) Operations Directorate and subsequently the Deputy Director for Operations in the National Military Command Center. Following his tour on the Joint Staff, Brigadier General Natonski served first as the Director of the Strategy and Plans Division and then as the Director of the Operations Division in the Plans, Policies, and Operations Department of Headquarters Marine Corps.

Brigadier General Natonski assumed command of 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) in June 2002. From January to June 2003 the MEB deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this operation 2nd MEB was redesignated as Task Force Tarawa and employed as the lead ground maneuver element under I Marine Expeditionary Force. They fought the battle of An-Nasiryah and participated in the rescue of Jessica Lynch.

Major General Natonski assumed command of the 1st Marine Division in August 2004, while in Iraq. There he led the ground maneuver element under I MEF through counter insurgency operations, the Battle of Fallujah (Operation AL-Fajr), and the Iraqi National Elections in January 2005.

On June 12, 2006, the Secretary of Defense announced that President George W. Bush had nominated MajGen Natonski for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, to be assigned as the Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies, and Operations. Natonski became Deputy Commandant on November 7, 2006 upon the retirement of LtGen. Jan Huly and received his third star. He served in this post until August 2008 when he assumed command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command.

Awards and Decorations

Lieutenant General Natonski's decorations include:
Basic Parachutist Insignia
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
2nd Row Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit Defense Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Meritorious Service Medal
3rd Row Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 2 award stars Army Commendation Medal Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation
4th Row Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 2 oak leaf clusters Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars
5th Row Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 service stars Southwest Asia Service Medal Iraq Campaign Medal
6th Row Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal w/ 2 service stars
7th Row Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 5 service stars Arctic Service Ribbon Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon
8th Row United Nations Medal w/ 1 service star NATO Medal for Yugoslavia Inter-American Defense Board Medal Kuwait Liberation Medal


  1. Marine Corps Gazette, June 2006.

See also


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