Alumni Spotlight

Erik Norell ’07

CPT Norell commissioned in May 2007 into the Virginia National Guard. Upon completing the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course, he began drilling with the 1-116th Infantry Battalion based in Lynchburg, VA as an assistant S2. While completing monthly training requirements, CPT Norell returned to school to pursue an M.A. in Islamic Studies at Duke University, with a focus on religion and violent conflict and Muslim minority communities. His time at Duke was interrupted in late 2009 when his battalion was asked to augment the 256th IBCT out of Louisiana on a deployment to Iraq.

By this time CPT Norell was now the 1-116th primary S2 (and continue to serve in that capacity). They mobilized in early 2010 at Camp Shelby, MS before flying to Kuwait and ultimately COB Adder, located just outside the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. The mission was convoy security, and they provided the gun trucks (MRAPs at this point in the war) for miles-long logistical convoys comprised of 18-wheelers and fuel tankers. CPT Norell’s intelligence section focused on reducing the number and effectiveness of IED attacks by recommending tactical changes regarding movement times and vehicle configurations. Although he served in Iraq during a relatively calm period, his unit was sent home early in conjunction with the Operation New Dawn drawdown, and was fortunate enough not to lose any Soldiers during the deployment.

After returning from Iraq, CPT Norell finished his Masters and then worked for a year and a half at the Defense Intelligence Agency. CPT Norell had two positions – first as a militant Islam analyst and then as a defense economist, with a regional focus on the Arabian Peninsula. Since leaving the DIA in June CPT Norell has been working as a technical editor and plans to pursue an MBA next fall.