Brian Reed grew up in Philadelphia with his parents, his younger sister, and brother. He was active in sports, enjoyed watching Philly teams, and attended an all-boy Jesuit high school. He initially was drawn to the Coast Guard Academy and Naval Academy because of childhood experiences along the Cape May shoreline and watching the Army / Navy football game every year. Poor eyesight prevented him from being accepted to Annapolis and he chose West Point instead. On R-Day, the thought, “I made a huge mistake,” kept flashing through his mind, but a solid roommate, and enjoying the training during Beast Barracks (Cadet Basic Training), turned him into a Soldier. Summer training at Buckner confirmed that he wanted to serve in the Infantry. Reflecting on Beast Barracks years later as the BTO (Brigade Tactical Officer), he observed the New Cadets’ parents after saying goodbye to their children, and noted the shock on their faces. He enjoyed his academic experiences in the Leadership field of study, and one class in particular, “Leadership In Combat,” helped him focus on his future career. He joined his company’s Sandhurst team and served on the Color Guard for a semester. After commissioning, he recycled two phases in Ranger School, and although he was initially ashamed to admit it, he has come to realize that his eventual success demonstrated grit and resilience. Arriving in Germany for his first assignment, he served as a Platoon Leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division (Forward), and later he served as a rifle platoon leader, support platoon leader, and company executive officer with 2nd Battalion 6th Infantry, 1st Armored Division. There, he learned important lessons from two NCOs, SSG Joe Estes and his Platoon Sergeant SFC Frank Graham. He served in Germany during a period of change. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany brought a search for an identity and a new mission for U.S. units stationed in the former West Germany. When the Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm) started, his unit remained in Germany to train replacements, and he felt he was missing “the big one.” Following the Infantry Advanced Course, he was stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division, where he commanded two companies, C Company, 4th Battalion, 87th Infantry, and A Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry. While serving with the 25th Infantry Division, he deployed to Cap Haitian, Haiti, as part of Operation Uphold Democracy. After an assignment teaching Leadership in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership (BS&L) at West Point, he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas, serving as the Operations Officer and Executive Officer in 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry and the Operations Officer for 1st Brigade. During his time as the Brigade S3, he was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, and helped plan and execute Operation Red Dawn, which led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. He later commanded at both the battalion and brigade levels, commanding 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry (Stryker) from December 2006 to December 2009 and 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the 25th Infantry Division from May 2012 to June 2014. After his brigade command time, he served as the Director of the Commander’s Action Group in CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command) before returning to West Point to assume duties as the Brigade Tactical Officer. After completing his assignment as the BTO, he became a PUSMA (Professor, USMA) and Deputy Head of BS&L, before taking on the role of West Point Chief of Staff.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point experiences, and his Army career. He reflects on leadership lessons throughout his service, highlighting similarities and differences at various levels of leadership, and discusses the importance of leveraging unit history to motivate Soldiers. He recalls key events in his growth as a leader and those who helped him along the way. Finally, he reflects on what his service and West Point mean to him.