He has extensive operational flying experience, amassing over 4,700 hours in tactical fighters, primarily the F-4, F-18 and most recently the F-5 aircraft. A graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) Lieutenant General Schmidle deployed to Operation Desert Storm as the Executive Officer of VMFA-333, where he led the largest USMC strike on the first night of the war. During this conflict he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (with combat V denoting valor in combat). He would subsequently command VMFA-251, leading the squadron in combat operations in Bosnia and aboard USS America (CV-66) as part of Carrier Air Wing One. Lieutenant General Schmidle was then selected for an extraordinary second operation command, this time as the commanding officer of VMFA-115.
After promotion to Colonel he would command the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (Experimental), planning and executing the Sea Dragon series of Marine Corps Warfighing Experiments, which fundamentally changed the conduct of military operations. He was then ordered to a Joint Staff assignment after which he was subsequently selected as the Military Secretary for both the 32nd and 33rd Commandants of the Marine Corps.
Following his selection to Brigadier General he served as the Director of the Marine Corps Force Development Center, was selected as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Quadrennial Defense Review and as the Deputy Director for Resources and Acquisition Joint Staff J-8. After selection to Major General he was the Commanding General of the First Marine Aircraft Wing, the leader of the Marine Corps Quadrennial Defense Review Team and the Assistant Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Programs and Resources.
Lieutenant General Schmidle was then selected to be the first Deputy Commander of United States Cyber Command, where he planned and conducted all cyber operations across the Department of Defense. After this assignment he would serve as Deputy Commandant for Aviation, developing and implementing the concept of digital integration. During this assignment he also maintained tactical currency and proficiency as a fully qualified F-5 adversary pilot.
His final assignment on active duty was as the Principal Deputy Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation in OSD. In this position he advised the Secretary of Defense on cost-benefit analysis conducted on current defense strategies and the associated impacts on military force structure and weapon system requirements. He also developed potential future force capabilities and articulated those options in terms of risk and value to the Department of Defense.