The essence of Army life is teamwork, and it’s a theme running through a conversation with the College’s newest leader about his career before and after the Army War College.
A 28-year Infantry officer, Army Col. Lance Oskey became chief of staff of the U.S. Army War College in July, 2021. His combat tours, leadership in Army training and education, and mentorship of others have been colored by recognizing the opportunities in his life and committing to pay it forward.
“Throughout my time as a colonel, I’ve been appreciative of the War College for lessons of leadership and a drumbeat of thinking about how you’ll spend your last years in the Army … how you’ll pay back the professional development and experience,” said Oskey, referring to his student year in the resident Class of 2015.
It takes the insight of experience to contribute effectively to others’ development. Oskey’s impact as teacher and guide for the next generation is built on his tactical leadership experience at battalion, brigade and division level. “These were development experiences,” he said. “Dealing with missions of broad ambiguity while protecting teammates in life-or-death stakes created strong bonds of fellowship.”
“I think fondly of my time in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said, making a band-of-brothers reference about his deployments, especially with the 506th Regiment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. “Ten years with great units shaped me.”
His skills-building years with the 101st Airborne Division, the 503rd Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division and 506th Regiment included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the work to reflag and restation the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment from Fort Lewis to Vilseck, Germany. Woven through the tactical assignments were teaching and training experiences – at the Infantry Captains Career Course, West Point, and Cadet Command.
“When I joined the Army, I thought that battalion command would be the highlight,” said Oskey, speaking of his command of the 2-54 Infantry (OSUT) at Fort Benning. The years and experiences that followed were beyond his expectations, he said: Army War College, promotion to colonel, brigade command, and further opportunities to invest in others.
He points to his command of the 7th Brigade, ROTC, at Fort Knox and his most recent experience as Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Ky., in terms of building cadets’ and cadre readiness and resilience.
Oskey’s life is a tutorial in ‘giving back,’ deliberately seeking a range of opportunities to help the next generation. His people-focused work in Army training and education is complemented by outreach. He has written for the Infantry Journal and the Military Leader; he’s shared his story with the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, and California University of Pa.
Gratitude is the second theme running through his words. Acutely aware of the opportunities in his life, he links them to his character and his life’s work. Adopted as a Korean infant into a Pittsburgh-area family, he tested his interest in the military by enlisting while still in high school. Commissioned into the Regular Army in 1993 from the California University of Pennsylvania, he later earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from Troy University. Significantly, he capped his assignment with the 1st of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, Republic of Korea, by adopting a Korean child, himself.
“I describe myself as a team player,” he said. “I’ve helped other officers and other organizations along the way. I believe in giving back to the institution.”
At the Army War College, he wasted no time in applying the lessons he wrote about in The Military Leader: Communicate actively and regularly; help adjacent and higher organizations accomplish missions; and understand the context of higher headquarters.