Colonel Marshall "Vito" Ecklund
United States Army
Special Operations Command South
Colonel Marshall "Vito" Ecklund is an Eagle Scout and a native of Nashville, Tennessee. He attended the United States Military Academy and was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in May 1992 after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Area Studies (Latin America). His initial assignment was with the 3-187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, and Battalion Air Operations Officer. After he completed the Special Forces Officer's Qualification Course, he was assigned to 2d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from 1997 to 1999, where he served as Detachment Commander of SFOD-A 763. From 1999 to 2002, he served as Assault Detachment Commander (SFOD-A 794) and Executive Officer in Company C, 3d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. After attending Naval Postgraduate School and the Command and General Staff College, he was again assigned to 2d Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from 2005 to 2007, where he commanded Company C (AOB 760) and was attached to Task Force 73 during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM VIII; he later served as the Battalion Operations Officer and Special Operations Task Force 72 Operations Center Director during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM X. Upon redeployment, COL Ecklund was assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Special Operations Command from 2007 to 2010, where he served as a Regional Operations Officer, Deputy Director of the Commander's Action Group, Compartmented Operations Officer in the Special Activities Division, and finally as the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula LNO to United States Forces-Iraq. Shortly after relocating to Fort Campbell, Kentucky in June 2010, he assumed command of 3d Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and deployed the battalion to Iraq as the Commander of Special Operations Task Force North in support Operation NEW DAWN from September 2010 to April 2011, giving up command of the battalion in July 2012. COL Ecklund then served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and later Executive Officer to the Commanding General of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (Special Operations Center of Excellence) from August 2012 through June 2014. After graduating with the Class of 2015 from the United States Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, COL Ecklund was assigned as the Director of Operations (J3) at Special Operations Command-South at Homestead Air Force Reserve Base, Florida in June 2015.
COL Ecklund's formal military education includes the Infantry Basic and Advanced Officer Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Army Command and General Staff Officer's Course, Joint and Combined Warfighting School, and Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis, and Exploitation Techniques Course. He also earned a Master of Science in Defense Analysis (Irregular Warfare) from Naval Postgraduate School, a Master of Military Art and Science from the Command and General Staff College, a Master of Science in Administration (Human Resource Administration) from Central Michigan University, and a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College.
COL Ecklund's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, four Army Achievement Medals, National Defense Service Medal (1 Service Star), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (3 Service Stars), Iraq Campaign Medal (2 Service Stars), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 3), Non-Article 5 NATO International Security Assistance Force Medal (Afghanistan), Multinational Forces and Observers Medal, and Joint Meritorious Unit Award. He has earned the Combat Infantryman, Expert Infantryman, Master Parachutist, Military Freefall Parachutist, and Air Assault badges, and the Special Forces and Ranger tabs. In addition to winning the General William E. DePuy Award for outstanding original military thought and the Excellence in JC4I Writing Award during the 2004/2005 Command and General Staff Officer's Course, he was also the first Special Forces recipient of the General George C. Marshall Award recognizing the course's distinguished graduate. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Army War College Class of 2015. His foreign awards include Mexican and Venezuelan parachutist badges, Venezuelan Honor al Mérito bar, Venezuelan Commando Instructor Badge, and the Colombian Urban Commando Badge.
COL Ecklund is married to the former Tisha Dixon of Nashville, Tennessee. They have two sons, Reese (16 years old) and Braden (9 years old), and one daughter, Peyton (13 years old).