Brigadier General "Norm" Cooling is presently assigned as the Assistant Deputy Commandant, Plans, Policies & Operations, Headquarters, Marine Corps in Washington, DC. A native of Baytown, Texas, he graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1986. Upon completion of The Basic School and Infantry Officers Course in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to 2d Battalion, 4th Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he deployed as a platoon commander to the Mediterranean with Landing Force Sixth Fleet. In 1989 he was reassigned to 2d Light Armored Infantry (LAI) Battalion as a platoon commander and participated in operations in Panama, and later as a detachment commander with Battalion Landing Team 3/8 during a second Mediterranean deployment.
In April 1991, Brigadier General Cooling assumed command of Light Armored Vehicle Training Company, School of Infantry (West), Camp Pendleton, California. In 1992 he became the S-3 Operations Officer for the School. Following the Armor Officer Advanced Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he returned to Camp Lejeune to command Company A, 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in 1994. In May 1996, Cooling reported to Headquarters Marine Corps for duty as the Deputy Marine Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1998 to 1999, he served on the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Staff Group. Upon graduation in June 2000 from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico with a Master of Military Studies, he reported for duty as the Director, Joint Operations Center, Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany. The following year, he was reassigned to NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium, as a Special Assistant and subsequently the Executive Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Reporting to Camp Pendleton in November 2002, Brigadier General Cooling deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) I, where he served as a Deputy G-3 Operations Officer and then Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, 1st Marine Division (Forward). Returning from Iraq in September 2003, he served as the Executive Officer, 5th Marine Regiment. In June of the following year, he reported to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii for duty as the Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, and subsequently deployed with the Battalion to Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom IV, and again to Iraq, as part of OIF V. In October 2006, he reported to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he earned a Master of National Security and Strategic Studies. After serving briefly as a member of the faculty at the Naval War College, Cooling assumed command of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadow, California on 1 July 2008. In July 2010, he reported to Camp Lejeune and assumed duties as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 Operations, II Marine Expeditionary Force Forward and deployed in that capacity to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from March 2011 to March 2012. Upon return from deployment, he served as the Chief of Staff, II Marine Expeditionary Force until June 2014, when he returned to Stuttgart, Germany for duty first as the Deputy Commander, Marine Corps Forces Europe & Africa, and later as the Deputy Director, J3 Operations, U.S. European Command. In 2017, he returned to Washington as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant until assuming his current duties in April 2018.
Brigadier General Cooling’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two gold stars in lieu of second and third awards, the Bronze Star Medal with gold star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.