Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper served more than 41 years in the United States Marine Corps, including wartime service in Vietnam and during Operation Desert Storm. He continues to participate in defense and security-related seminars and conferences, both in the U.S. and overseas, and he lectures frequently at the National Defense University, the Marine Corps University, and other military education institutions. He also consults part-time for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and various firms. He is a student of military history.
Since his retirement in 1997, Lieutenant General Van Riper has sat on many defense and service advisory boards and panels, including the Army Science Board, the Institute for Defense Analyses' Joint Advanced Warfighting Program Senior Advisory Group, and the National Reconnaissance Office's Operational Support Office Gold Team.
His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal with gold star, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon with gold star.
Lieutenant General Van Riper received a B.A. from California State College, California, Pennsylvania. He also is a graduate of the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, the U.S. Army's Airborne and Ranger Schools, the Navy's College of Command and Staff, and the Army War College.