Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Steele enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1994 and went to Parris Island, South Carolina, for recruit training. After graduating from recruit training, he received follow-on instruction at the School of Infantry, Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Once complete with training, he was assigned to Weapons Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Memphis, Tennessee.
Lieutenant Colonel Steele received his commission in the United States Marine Corps through the University of Mississippi's Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in May 1997. After completing The Basic School that same year, Lieutenant Colonel Steele reported for Aviation Maintenance Officer's School aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida. Once complete, he reported to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2), Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina for duty as a 6002 Aviation Maintenance Officer. After two years as the VMAQ-2 Maintenance Material Control Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Steele was reassigned to be the Naval Technical Data and Engineering Service Command (NATEC) Officer In Charge in December 1999. During his tour with NATEC, Lieutenant Colonel Steele submitted a flight transition package to become an aviator and was selected for transition.
Lieutenant Colonel Steele reported for Aviation Indoctrination training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in April 2001. He was designated as a Naval Flight Officer in June 2002 and reported in November of 2002 to Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) for MOS training as an EA-6B Electronic
Countermeasures Officer (ECMO) aboard NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.
Following the completion of his training and after being designated as an EA-6B ECMO, Lieutenant Colonel Steele was assigned to VMAQ-2, MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, and reported for duty in May 2004. As an ECMO assigned to VMAQ-2, Lieutenant Colonel Steele participated in three combat deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this tour, Lieutenant Colonel Steele was assigned several billets to include Ground Safety Officer, NATOPS Officer, Airframes Officer, Powerline Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, Assistant Maintenance Officer, Maintenance Officer, and Electronic Warfare Officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Steele then received orders to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 (MWHS-2) and assumed the duties of the Executive Officer for the squadron. As the Executive Officer, he aided the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) Commanding General's staff and all squadron divisions in the accomplishment of mission support to Iraq and Afghanistan. During 2009 the MWHS-2 squadron had grown to just under 4,000 Marines while supporting the downsizing in Iraq and the build-up of Afghanistan, to include the establishment of Marine Aircraft Group 40 (MAG-40) (forward). At the end of this tour Lieutenant Colonel Steele was selected to attend resident Command and Staff College (CSC) and reported to Quantico, Virginia, for school.
Lieutenant Colonel Steele attended CSC from July 2009 to June 2010. During this time he earned his master's degree in Military Studies. Upon completion of school Lieutenant Colonel Steele received orders to return to MCAS Cherry Point.
Upon arrival at MCAS Cherry Point, Lieutenant Colonel Steele was assigned to the 2d MAW staff as the Deputy Director for Aviation Training Systems. While there, he coordinated aviation training and support for all type/model/series aircraft at Cherry Point, New River, and Beaufort. As the Deputy Director he was assigned by HQMC to spearhead the implementation of online instrument ground school across all Marine Corps Aviation. Additionally, it was during this tour that Lieutenant Colonel Steele went forward to Afghanistan to fill the Electronic Warfare Subject Matter Expert billet for the 2d MAW staff (forward). He was assigned to Future Operations and became the lead Special Operations Force mission planner in support of Marine Air Ground Task Force operations. Upon return from Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Steele reported to VMAQ-4 for duty as the Operations Officer.
From February 2012 to October 2013, Lieutenant Colonel Steele served as the Operations Officer for VMAQ-4. During that time, VMAQ-4 deployed to Japan and the focus of effort was the reintroduction of Marine Electronic Warfare (EW) into the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) Area Of Responsibility (AOR). Marine Prowlers had not been to PACOM for eight years, and this deployment was contributory in developing and identifying theater support requirements, utilization, and EW integration.
Upon completion of his tour with VMAQ-4, Lieutenant Colonel Steele reported to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) in Quantico, Virginia. He was assigned as the Deputy Director for the Wargaming Division and as the Expeditionary Warrior Action Officer. Duties included oversight and execution of the Marine Corps' Title 10 Service Wargame in an effort to inform the Commandant of the Marine Corps for future decisions concerning the advancement of the Marine Corps. During his tenure, MCWL researched and developed Joint Forcible Entry Operations, Integration of the Maritime Operations Center, Operations in an Anti-Access / Area-Denial Environment, and Future Force 2025.
In August 2016 Lieutenant Colonel Steele returned to MCAS Cherry Point and was assigned to the 2d MAW staff. Lieutenant Colonel Steele assumed the duties and responsibilities as the 2d MAW Command Inspector General from August 2016 to October 2017. At this time he developed an inspection philosophy that was adopted and implemented by the Commanding General across 2d MAW. He then reported to MAG-14 for follow-on duty and RQ-21A flight training.
During his career Lieutenant Colonel Steele has supported multiple combat deployments to include Operation Allied Force and Noble Anvil (1999), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004-05, 2006, and 2007-08), and Operation Enduring Freedom (2011-2012).
Lieutenant Colonel Steele's personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal Strike/Flight (18), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3).