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Name: Olson, Eric
Current Position: Former Commander
A native of Tacoma, Washington, Admiral Eric Thor Olson has served since July 2007 as the commander of the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The first Navy SEAL ever to reach the ranks of three-star and four-star admiral, Olson is the eighth commander in USSOCOM history. He is also the first naval officer to command USSOCOM.
Olson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1973, and then went on to graduate from the Naval Postgraduate School. He completed SEAL training in 1974. For the next two decades, he served in a variety of military assignments, many of them overseas, including the US operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. When two Blackhawk helicopters crashed in the city, Olson led a search-and-rescue team that gathered up survivors and fought its way out of an ambush. For his leadership, Olson was awarded the Silver Star. Olson also served in Israel, Egypt and Tunisia.
In 1994 he became commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, an American counter-terrorism unit. Olson was promoted in 1999, assuming command of Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California.
During his confirmation hearings with the Senate, Olson complained that bureaucratic squabbles within the Pentagon were getting in the way of SOF units from carrying out their missions against terrorists. The former Navy SEAL blamed turf wars among military commanders from other branches or Pentagon sections for the trouble.
Admiral: Bureaucracy hampers terror war (by Richard Lardner and Anne Flaherty, USA Today)
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