Steven Li

Ph.D. Student
Steven Li


Lieutenant Colonel Steve “Ike” Li is currently the Commander, Air Force Element, Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). He serves all USAF students attending NPS.

Lieutenant Colonel Li entered the Air Force in June 1994 as a cadet of the United States Air Force Academy. After graduating with a degree in political science and receiving his commission in May of 1998, he entered Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training. Upon completing pilot training, Lieutenant Colonel Li was selected to become an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) pilot. As an AFSOC pilot, he served two operational tours flying out of Kadena AB, Japan, and RAF Mildenhall, England. Lieutenant Colonel Li’s career focus broadened in 2007 after being selected for the Air Force Regional Affairs Strategist program. Under this program, he attended the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to earn a Master’s degree in Security Studies with a focus on Northeast Asia. Upon completion of NPS, Lieutenant Colonel Li served as the Security Cooperation Officer at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Taipei, Taiwan. He was the focal point for U.S. security cooperation efforts with the Taiwan Air Force and represented AIT, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), and the United States government in security assistance and cooperation matters to meet United States’ regional strategy. After Taiwan, Lieutenant Colonel Li returned to special operations and Kadena AB, where he served as the 353 Special Operations Group Battlestaff Director and Chief of Safety. He is an Air force Weapons Officer and a Regional Affairs Strategist who is fluent in Chinese–Mandarin.

Lieutenant Colonel Li is a Senior Pilot with over 2100 hours of flight time in various airframes. He is a proven combat pilot who has flown scores of sorties supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He is also an experienced security cooperation and staff officer familiar with working in joint environments. He has not only served at the theater Special Operations Command level, but has also led planning efforts for “high- value” missions involving multiple weapons systems and agencies.

Lieutenant Colonel Li is married to the former Hui Ling “Lingo” Chao from Colorado Springs, CO. They have one son and one daughter.