Principles of Leadership: From Leading Troops in Combat to Testing Complex Weapons Systems

Dean Loftin


LTC (R) Dean Loftin grew up in Detroit Michigan and joined the USMA Class of ’65 on 5 July 1961. Upon graduation, he completed Airborne and Ranger training, and after a short tour as a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division, he was assigned as a military advisor in Vietnam. He led his unit through heavy fighting before and after the Tet Offensive of 1968. He returned to the US to complete the Infantry Officer Advanced Course before rotating back to Vietnam, where he served as a rifle company commander and brigade staff officer with the 101st Airborne Division. He was again engaged in heavy fighting in and around the A Shau Valley near the Laotian border. After his second Vietnam tour, he attended the University of Alabama to earn masters degrees in industrial management and business administration. Upon graduation, he served as an instructor and on the staff and faculty of the US Army Infantry School (USAIS). Subsequently he was assigned to the US Observer Group, United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, and carried out inspections, patrols, and checkpoint operations with officers of other nations in the Sinai Peninsula and in Southern Lebanon, where he was wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device. On his return to the US he served on the staff and faculty at USAIS in Training Development, and then as the Chief of Testing for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle during the critical period before fielding. Subsequently, he was in charge of supporting the Foreign Military Sales Case to test the Bradley in Saudi Arabia. His final assignment was on the staff and faculty at USAIS as a Division Chief in Combat Developments, preparing requirements for Infantry weapons and equipment. After his military career, he worked for 25 years in the defense industry in engineering, business development, and support services. He worked on both the Abrams and Stryker vehicles, rounding out his experience with the Army’s three major ground combat platforms. During the interview, Dean recounts his two tours in Vietnam, comparing and contrasting his experiences as a military advisor for a Vietnamese unit and as a company commander of a US Army unit. He also explains the complexities of bringing a large weapons system to the field from its initial design to its full testing under various climate and topographical conditions.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Peacekeeping USMA 1965 Wartime Decisions Military Techniques
interviewer Fred Laughlin
date 09 October 2017


name Dean Loftin
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Infantry
unit 2/506, 101st Airborne; Advisory Team 47; 1/327, 101st Airborne; Army Infantry School; 3/7 IN, 197th Infantry Brigade; US Observer Group, UN Truce Supervision Organization (Palestine)
specialty Operations Research Systems Analysis, Research and Development: Infantry Weapons Systems, Equipment and Training
service dates 1965 1985