STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Tarleton State University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has a new professor of military science (PMS), Lt. Col. Mike Eliassen, who assumed responsibility of the program this month.
Eliassen joins the Tarleton faculty as head of the Department of Military Science after being PMS at Eastern Washington University.
"We welcome Lt. Col. Eliassen to Tarleton State and the Texan Battalion," Tarleton President James Hurley said. "ROTC has enjoyed a rich history at Tarleton since its founding in 1917, and we believe that he has the experience, skills and dedication to lead this storied program to the next level."
Eliassen commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry through Officer Candidate School in June 2001. He commanded the 721 soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, Tomahawks, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington from June 2018 to June 2020. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan five times, for a total of 50 months.
"I am extremely excited to be a part of one of the oldest ROTC programs in the nation. Tarleton State University’s rich heritage of service to our great nation and the Corps of Cadets were immense draws for me in coming to the program," he said.
"Our Ranger Challenge team remains the one to beat in the region as evidenced by our performance over the last three years. Exciting things are happening in the program and in the Corps of Cadets."
The Corps of Cadets has worked to integrate the Army ROTC program into the John Tarleton Leadership Academy, designed to prepare individuals with the marketable leadership skills valued in business, military and government careers.
The Texan Battalion, Army ROTC, comprises students from Tarleton, Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen, and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. More than 160 cadets across the three campuses populate the Texan Battalion; 89 cadets in Army ROTC are also part of the Texan Corps of Cadets. In 2021 the battalion anticipates commissioning 35 second lieutenants into the Army.
"Our mission in the Army ROTC program is to commission second lieutenants of character who are prepared to succeed day one in their first unit of assignment. We do this by testing their ability to learn how to follow and then learn how to lead, and finally, how to teach and coach others in these disciplines," Eliassen said.
Cadets have opportunities nationwide for summer internships with active-duty Army units, including the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., a 38-day, 24-hours-a-day leadership internship after their junior year.
Other internships include nursing work at Army base hospitals around the globe; engineering, cybersecurity and computer science assignments; and the opportunity to see how inter-agency teams work together.
Prior to joining the Army, Eliassen was a high school teacher and varsity soccer coach at Shadle Park High School in Spokane, Wa.
He began his military career as a Rifle Platoon Leader and Rifle Company Executive Officer with 1st Battalion 36th Infantry (Mechanized) and as a Platoon Leader and Operations Officer for E Company, 51st Infantry – Long Range Surveillance – V Corps, both in Germany and Iraq.
He commanded C Company and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at both Fort Campbell and in Afghanistan. He then served as an Infantry Branch Assignment Officer at Human Resources Command, in Alexandria, Va., and Fort Knox. He and his family lived in Canberra, Australia, where he graduated from the Australian Command and Staff Course (Joint).
Eliassen served as the Executive Officer of 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry (Light) in 2012-2014 at Fort Knox. He served as the Regimental S1 for the 75th Ranger Regiment in 2014-2016 at Fort Benning, Ga. In May 2018 he finished a two-year tour as the PMS at Eastern Washington University.
He earned a bachelor of arts in history and honors with international emphasis from Washington State University, a bachelor of arts in education and teaching certificate from Eastern Washington; a master’s of military science-strategic leadership from American Military University, and a master’s of military studies from the Australian National University.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with seven OLC, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, and the Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral ‘6’, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Meritorious Unit Commendation with two OLC, the German Silver Jump Wings and the Australian Parachutist Badge. He also is a recipient of the Order of St. Maurice and the Order of St. Barbara.
Eliassen’s military education includes the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program II, the Australian Command and Staff Course (Joint), Joint Firepower Control Course, the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, Close Air Support Operations Course, Jumpmaster School, Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leader’s Course, NBC Defense Course, Airborne School, Mechanized Leader’s Course, Ranger School, Infantry Officer Basic Course, Officer Candidate School, and Basic Combat Training.
He and his wife, Andrea, have a small horse property just north of Stephenville, where they plan to raise horses, Australian Shepherds, and watch the next 15,000 sunsets together.
For more information on the Tarleton Texan Battalion and Army ROTC program, visit www.tarleton.edu/rotc.