Early career and education
General Cartwright was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in November 1971. He completed Naval Flight Officer training in April 1973 and graduated from Naval Aviator training in January 1977. He has operational assignments as an naval flight officer in the F-4 Phantom II, and as a pilot in the F-4, OA-4, and F-18 Hornet. He is a distinguished graduate of the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, received his Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island and completed a fellowship with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
General Cartwright's command assignments include: Commander, United States Strategic Command (2004-2007); Commanding General, First Marine Aircraft Wing (2000-2002); Deputy Commanding General, Marine Forces Atlantic (1999-2000).
General Cartwright's joint staff assignments include: Director for Force Structure, Resources and Assessment, J-8 the Joint Staff (2002-2004); Deputy Director for Force Structure, Requirements, J-8 the Joint Staff (1996-1999).