Interviews

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LTG Eric J. Wesley grew up in Yorba Linda in southern California, enjoying spending time at the beach and playing water polo. His father was an engineer at Rockwell, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom, raising him and his four-year older sister. In high school, he was affected by the Iran Hostage crisis, noted the dramatic shift in leadership when President Reagan assumed office, and was inspired to apply to the Military Academy. At West Point, he sought to constantly improve himself academically, militarily, and physically. He excelled on the Water Polo Team, and served as team captain his senior year. He commissioned as an Armor Officer, having chosen that branch because he felt that combat arms were the essence of the Army, and he was fascinated by the speed of decision offered by tanks. He was stationed in Germany as a Tank Platoon Leader and Scout Platoon Leader in the 1st Armored Division during the era of the AirLand Battle Doctrine, and appreciated the juxtaposition of being a deterrent force facing the Soviets and East Germans one day, and then watching the Berlin Wall come down the next. As a company commander, he learned the value of repetitive training, and realized that the Army is all about people and relationships. He deployed to Bosnia, Iraq twice, and Afghanistan twice. He recognized the importance of cross-cultural communication and empathy in Bosnia, observed leadership and the art of command in Iraq, and considered the limits of American power in Afghanistan. He then commanded the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he focused on leadership and modernization, and appreciated the benefits of having Armor and Infantry collocated. In his current assignment as the director of the Futures and Concepts Center and the Deputy Commanding General of Army Futures Command, he focuses on the future operating environment, including challenges from China and Russia. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences at West Point, and his career in the Army. He recalls techniques he has learned from influential leaders including his Platoon Sergeant, CSM(R) Dan Rogers, and his former Brigade Commander, General David Perkins. He describes modernization and the concept of Multi-Domain Operations, and the importance of preventing peer-to-peer competition from becoming conflict. Finally, he reflects on what his service and West Point mean to him, noting that the Military Academy profoundly impacts both its graduates and the nation.
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