Admiral Eric T. Olson was the eighth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. from July 2, 2007 to August 8, 2011. A native of Tacoma, Wash., Olson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1973 and qualified as a Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) officer in 1974. He has served operationally in an Underwater Demolition Team, SEAL Team, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team, Special Boat Squadron, and at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has commanded at every level.
Admiral Olson has participated in several conflicts and contingency operations, and has served as a SEAL instructor, strategy and tactics development officer and joint special operations staff officer. His overseas assignments include service as a United Nations military observer in Israel and Egypt, and as Navy Programs officer in Tunisia. He served on the Navy staff as assistant deputy chief of Naval Operations (Plans, Policy, and Operations).
Olson earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and studied at the Defense Language Institute. He is a Joint Specialty officer and Political-Military Affairs sub-specialist with emphasis on Africa and the Middle East. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal and Silver Star. He retired from active duty after over 38 years of service. He is a member of the Aspen Homeland Security Group.