He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management from Tulane University in May 1979 and, as a Distinguished Military Graduate, was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He earned a Master of Arts Degree in Business Management from Webster University in 1991 and a Master of Strategic Studies in 1999. Yarbrough's military education includes the Infantry Officer's Basic and Advanced Courses; Air Assault, Airborne, Ranger and Pathfinder Schools; Jumpmaster, Military Freefall and Freefall Jumpmaster Courses; and U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.
His initial assignment was with the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), where he served as Rifle Platoon Leader and Anti-Tank Platoon Leader in 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry from 1979-1981. He was reassigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry, where he served as Rifle Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Battalion S-3 Air from 1981–1984, and participated in OPERATION URGENT FURY in Grenada. After graduating from the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course, he commanded a rifle company in 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry (MECH), Republic of Korea, from 1985-1986. Following company command, he served as Operations Officer and Chief, Current Operations, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, then Aide-de-Camp to Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Next, he served as Battalion S-3 for 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR); then Brigade S-3 for the 504th PIR before being reassigned as Chief, Theater Operations Branch at US Atlantic Command from 1994-1996. He then commanded 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry in the 101st Airborne Division from 1996-1998. Following attendance at the War College, Brigadier General Yarbrough commanded the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, from February 1, 2000 through June 23, 2002. As the XVIII Airborne Corps G3 commencing July 2002, Brigadier General Yarbrough served for 11 months as CJ3 of CJTF-180 executing Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and remained the Assistant Chief of Staff/G3, XVIII Airborne Corps until July 1, 2004. He served as the Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Georgia, from July 2004 through July 2006. On 1 August 2006 he became the Assistant Division Commander (Operations), 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas. In July 2007, Brigadier General Yarbrough deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom where he assumed command of the Iraq Assistance Group from Brigadier General Dana J.H. Pittard, while still serving as the Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver of the 1st Infantry Division.
In July 2008, he assumed command of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk.
In January 2011, he retired from the U.S. Army and Brig. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn, took over his command.
His personal and unit awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal (5 Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (4 Oak Leaf Clusters), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Joint Meritorious Unit Award (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Valorous Unit Award, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Military Freefall Parachutist Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, and Ranger Tab.