Robert W. Tanner

  • Colonel
  • Operation Restore Hope & Operation Safe Harbor


Robert W. Tanner was born in Providence, RI and is the son of Claude E Tanner, Jr, URI ‘37 and Agnes Mildred Morris Tanner. He is a 1966 graduate of Cranston High School East, entering URI with the Class of 1970. During Bob’s high school and college years, he had very little time for participating in sports and extracurricular activities due his desire to help support his family. His mother was diagnosed with cancer about the time Bob entered high school and his father was a medically retired WW II veteran. Bob worked every day after school and summers throughout his high school and college careers to help support his family, a three generational household with his grandmother living with the family. The only summer when he didn’t work his fulltime job was during his ROTC leadership training between his junior and senior years at URI. Sadly, Bob’s mother passed away in 1970 prior to his graduation. He accomplished all of this while achieving the Dean’s List in the spring of 1970.

Upon graduation, Bob was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Quartermaster Corps. His initial duty assignment was as the Heavy Drop Platoon Leader, 612th QM Co. (Air Delivery), XVIII Airborne Corps, Ft Bragg, NC. In 1971, he was selected as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, US Army Quartermaster Center & Ft. Lee, VA and served in this position until 1973. In 1974, he was assigned as the Mortar Platoon Leader, C Co, 3/60th Inf, 9th ID, Ft. Lewis, WA followed by Battalion Maintenance Officer. He was then selected as the Company Commander, A Co Supply and Service, 9th S &T Bn, 9th ID, the first of his four career command assignments.

Bob was then assigned as an Exchange Officer to the British Royal Ordnance Corps assisting in the development and fielding of their Army-wide inventory management system. Leaving England, he was next assigned as the Executive Officer, 2nd Supply and Transportation Battalion, and subsequently, the Commander, Division Materiel Management Center, 2nd AD Ft. Hood, TX. During these assignments, he worked tirelessly to improve the material readiness of the 2nd AD in a time of continued funding constraints placed upon the Army.

Selected for Battalion command, Bob returned to Ft Lewis to assume command of the 209th Support Battalion, 9th ID. He successfully deployed his battalion to Ft Hunter Liggett, CA to provide direct support to a composite brigade drawn from three separate divisions in Operation Celtic Cross IV, the validation exercise for the new Light Infantry Division concept.

Colonel Tanner’s final Army assignment was as G-4, (Deputy Chief of Staff Material) 13th Corps Support Command, Ft Hood, Texas where he initially supported the return of the III Corps from Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. He was selected by the Commanding General III Corps to deploy as Commander US Army Forces (ARFOR) of the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) “Operation Safe Harbor” where he directed the support operations of 1,100 soldiers in Guantanamo, Cuba. He was then directed to deploy again to Mogadishu, Somalia in “Operation Restore Hope” as Deputy Commanding Officer JTF Support Command.

is major military awards and decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with 1OLC, Meritorious Service Medal with 2OLC, Joint Services Commendation Medals, and campaign ribbons for Humanitarian Service Medal, and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

After retirement from active duty, Bob began a career with the Texas Department of Transportation initially as Chief, Headquarters Operations and was subsequently selected as Director Registration and Title Systems where he oversaw the development and implementation of new IT systems that allowed the State of Texas to better manage registration and tax collection actions. Following retirement from the Texas DOT, he served as a volunteer for the non-profit Faith in Action Caregivers. He obtained his teaching certificate and served as an elementary school teacher and as a volunteer in his community.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree from URI, he holds a Master of Science Degree in System Management from University of Southern California, and a certificate in Program Management from the University of Texas. He is a serving council member in his church, President of the Pflugerville Optimist Club, a member of the Coastal Conservation Association among other community organizations.

ob is married to the former Sharion Kiecke and resides in Pflugerville, Texas. Colonel Tanner is the epitome of the unselfish career officer who puts the needs of the service over his own. He always has answered the call to serve wherever and whenever needed. He is a Cold War warrior who participated in winning that war. When called upon to deploy in support of humanitarian actions, he brought to bear all his skills and knowledge to help lead Army and Joint organizations to mission success. Colonel Tanner has spent his entire life serving his community and nation. His exemplary devotion to duty, and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his family, our nation and the University of Rhode Island.