Robert Ayer graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1979. He served as a deck watch officer on Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Vigilant (WMEC 617) and subsequently as commanding officer on CGC Point Knoll (WPB 82364). He earned a master of arts in law and diplomacy, and a doctorate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. From 1985-2011, he taught at the Coast Guard Academy and subsequently served in a variety of administrative positions there. As a technical writing editor, he worked for the Defense Security Service and the Food and Drug Administration. Since 2015, he has served as the Naval War College Press Managing Editor.