Eric Larson is native of Sioux Falls, SD, and a 1996 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, with a B.S. in Political Science and minor in Spanish. After initial intelligence officer training in 1997, Lieutenant Larson was assigned to the operations group and later a fighter squadron at Aviano Airbase, Italy. Following that tour, he served as an intelligence and tactics instructor for NATO air and air defense operations at the Tactical Leadership Programme, Florennes Airbase, Belgium (2000-2003). In 2003-2006, he completed a combined Master’s degree/language program at Naval Postgraduate School and the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, with an academic concentration on Northeast Asia and language program in Chinese Mandarin.
Following Monterey, he served over 5 years assigned to the USAF Special Operations School, culminating as Chief of the Theater Engagement Division. At USAFSOS he served as the director of the Asia-Pacific Orientation Course (May 2006-December 2007), the Cross-Cultural Communications Course (July 2006-June 2007), and the Building Partner Aviation Capacity Course (September 2008-November 2009). In addition to building, managing and presenting curriculum in these three courses, he has also provided instruction on special operations; irregular warfare; interagency coordination; and terrorism, insurgency, and armed groups for other courses at USAFSOS. In January-July 2008, he deployed from Hurlburt to the Joint Special Operations Task Force–Philippines as the Deputy J2 (Intelligence). He later deployed for a year-long tour (December 2009-December 2010) with the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group at Kabul International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was the Advisory Group’s Intelligence Officer and Mentor to the Afghan Air Corps Kabul Wing G2 (Intelligence).
Between August 2011 and June 2014, Lt Col Larson held the position of Branch Chief, Intel Plans and Exercises Team – East, Joint Staff J25-7, in the Pentagon. In that job, Lt Col Larson was Joint Staff’s principal strategic intelligence planner for Department of Defense-directed operational plans, linking the requirements of warfighting geographic and functional combatant commands with DoD and national intelligence resources. He was responsible for strategic intelligence planning and exercises for USCENTCOM, USSOCOM, USAFRICOM, and USEUCOM. He culminated his time with the Joint Staff J2 as the Senior Executive Assistant to the Joint Staff Director of Intelligence (J2), Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Paul Becker. In that role, he was responsible for day-to-day coordination of the J2’s 300+ personnel to meet the requirements of the J2’s senior leaders in support of the Joint Staff, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of Defense, and POTUS. His final assignment (June 2015-December 2018) was with North American Aerospace Defense Command–United States Northern Command (NORAD-USNORTHCOM) Directorate for Intelligence (J2) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While there, his duties included the 24/7 Homeland Defense Watch Team and national emergency command and control team, Russia Analysis Branch Chief, and Russia strategic intelligence plans officer.
Lt Col Larson retired in December 2018 as a career Intelligence Officer with squadron-, group-, and task force-level combat support experience in the Balkans (DELIBERATE FORGE ‘97-‘99, ALLIED FORCE ‘99), Southwest Asia (SOUTHERN WATCH ‘00), Southeast Asia (ENDURING FREEDOM-PHILIPPINES ‘08), and South Asia (ENDURING FREEDOM-AFGHANISTAN ‘10). He is a graduate of multiple levels of professional military education, including the Joint and Combined Warfighting School. He has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (1 device), the Meritorious Service Medal (1 device), as well as the Joint Service Commendation Medal (1 device), and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
Since retirement, Eric has been a local government intern with Elbert County, Colorado (September 2018-May 2019) and a graduate student in Community Development through Kansas State University. He is married to Dr. (Lt Col) Meredith Sarda, a USAF pediatrician. Dr. Sarda is originally from Durham, North Carolina. With their daughter Emily, they currently reside in Orcutt, CA.