Air Marshal Kevin Short was born in Feilding and joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in January 1976 as a General Duties Navigator.
In his early career, Air Marshal Short was employed on No 5 Squadron completing duties as a Navigator, Tactical Coordinator, and Aircraft Captain, and accumulated over 5,000 flying hours primarily on the Orion aircraft. Whilst on No 5 Squadron, he held the positions of Navigator Leader, Deployment Commander, and Operations Flight Commander.
In 1987, Air Marshal Short attended the General Duties Aero Systems Course at Royal Air Force Cranwell, and in 1991 attended No 32 Staff Course at the RNZAF Command and Staff College. In 1999, he attended the USAF Air War College in Alabama, USA.
At a senior level, Air Marshal Short has been employed in a range of project, plans and development related appointments, including Assistant Chief Development in which he initiated several major projects including the Hercules and Orion upgrades, and the purchase of the B757.
Air Marshal Short has also filled a range of senior command and representational appointments. In 2002 he served as the NZDF Senior National Officer in USCENTCOM as part of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.
In 2003 he took up the position of Officer Commanding No 485 Wing, RNZAF Base Auckland, with responsibility for the RNZAF Operational Force Elements. In 2006 he served as Senior National Officer and Commander of the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team (Rotation 9), Bamyan, Afghanistan.
In June 2007 Air Marshal Short was appointed Assistant Chief Development (AC Dev) in HQ NZDF on promotion to the rank of Air Commodore, and in 2009 took up the appointment of Assistant Chief Strategic Commitments and Intelligence (AC SCI).
In 2011, he was posted as Deputy Chief of Air Force and in 2013 assumed the appointment of Commander Joint Forces New Zealand in the rank of Air Vice-Marshal.
He was appointed as Vice Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force on 31 March 2014, and was then promoted to Air Marshal on 29 June 2018 and became Chief of Defence Force effective 1 July 2018.
Air Marshal Short is an ambassador for White Ribbon New Zealand.