“Train To Be The Best Commander You Can Be”: Developing Capabilities And Serving Soldiers

Peter Palmer


Pete Palmer was raised on a dairy farm in upstate New York in a blue-collar family. In high school he ran track and played football and basketball. A high school classmate, John Uhorchak, recommended he consider the Military Academy. He applied to West Point and was offered the Prep School. He appreciated his experience at USMAPS (United States Military Academy Preparatory School), where he gained maturity and benefitted from the basic training experience. While attending USMAPS at Ft. Belvoir, he remembers being put on alert for protests against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. He played football at the Prep School, but switched to lacrosse. Years later, when he was teaching at the Naval War College, he coached lacrosse and was the offensive line coach for USNAPS (United States Naval Academy Prep School). When he reported to West Point for R-Day, he felt well-prepared and remembers helping his roommates fold their socks. At West Point, his TAC, CPT St. Onge, inspired him to choose Infantry. His first assignment was with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry in the 3rd Armored Division in Germany. He was on border duty with M113s and M60s and was constantly wary of Soviet spies. At one point, when war in Israel flared up, he remembers being issued ammunition without having to sign for it due to concerns about what the Soviets might do in Europe. After successful company command at Ft. Benning, where he commanded B Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 58th Infantry, he became the Aide-de-Camp to General Foss in January 1985. This was an important time for the Infantry branch with the Bradley and Javelin programs being advanced and heavy / light Infantry doctrine was being written. General Foss believed in jumping every week, often with the airborne school class, and as a result, Pete recorded 67 jumps that year. He also had the opportunity to complete Pathfinder school. He learned to “train to be the best commander you can be.” He was able to learn by serving as an OC (Observer / Controller) at the National Training Center, where he mentored 67 different rotations. Later, from June 1995 to June 1997, he commanded 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which he considers “the most rewarding job ever.” In June 2000, he took command of 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, and deployed to Kosovo on a peacekeeping deployment (the Albanians and Serbs hated each other). He served alongside Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian battalions. In July 2002, he took command of the Battle Command Training Program at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, which was a “professionally rewarding” experience. After serving as the Assistant Division Commander (Support) for 1st Infantry Division in Germany, he returned to Ft. Monroe, Virginia, where he was the Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center for Training and Doctrine Command. In this role he helped develop accelerated capabilities for the Army by focusing on the human dimension concept, looking at the physical domain, the cognitive domain, and belief systems. Reflecting on his service in the Army, he states, “West Point shaped me for the rest of my life.”


conflicts Cold War Iraq War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Army Athletics West Point History Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 29 September 2022


name Peter Palmer
institution USMA
graduation year 1977
service Infantry
unit Company C, 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry, 3rd Armored Division; B Company, 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 58th Infantry; NTC OC; 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment; 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division; Battle Command Training Program; Assistant Divisi
service dates 1977 2008