White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Eric Little will soon leave WSMR for the U.S. Space Command at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado following a change of command on Nov. 2. (Photo by Vanessa Flores)

Brig. Gen. Eric Little bids WSMR farewell

White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Eric Little will soon leave WSMR for the U.S. Space Command at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado following a change of command on Nov. 2.

In the following interview he talks about his time at WSMR.

What were some of the most rewarding parts of being the CG at WSMR?

“It has been one of the most rewarding assignments I’ve had. First and foremost, it is the people. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the most amazing people you can imagine. Second, I would have to say is to have the privilege to lead and have the responsibility to command this great installation and our incredible workforce. It has truly been a privilege. I have really built some great relationships over the last two and a half years.”

What part of being the Commanding General at WSMR was the most critical for you?

“I wear two hats as the Commanding General at WSMR. As the senior commander I am responsible for anything that happens on the installation.”

“On the technical side I am also the Deputy Commanding General for Developmental Test. Our primary mission is to do test and evaluation here at WSMR, but I also oversee five other test centers: Yuma Proving Ground, and Fort Huachuca Electronic Proving Ground in Arizona, Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, Redstone Arsenal in Alabama and Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.”

“What takes up most of my time is being the senior commander here at WSMR. We have 30 tenant units that include organizations from the Navy, the Air Force, NASA and many more. Making sure they have what they need, and that this installation continues to run is a pretty big part of my job.”

What are some of the highlights of your time at WSMR?

“Reflecting on the last two and a half years, bringing the installation and our workforce out of COVID safely and smartly and as expeditiously as possible was a big part as I assumed command.”

“There were also some relationships that needed attention. The relationship between WSMR and Holloman Air Force Base. We have really invested time and energy building that relationship. We have agreements in place that are going to last for years.”

“We worked very well together, as well as with the communities in both Las Cruces and Alamogordo.”

“If you look at WSMR and how massive this installation is and realize that it is the only place in the U.S. where we own the airspace from the surface of the earth to outer space, there is so much opportunity for our Department of Defense to do a lot of great things here and we are starting to see the momentum moving in that direction.”

What were some significant accomplishments?

“Things like bringing the Bataan Memorial Death March back. We went three years without the Bataan Memorial Death March, and we had the first one this past March. Over 5,500 marchers registered, and we are anticipating even more during the next Bataan scheduled for March 16, 2024. That is just a fantastic event for the community honoring heroes that served our nation.”

“Coming out of COVID we also had the first military ball. For the past two years we had the Army Birthday Ball, where we bring the community out. We will have another one this coming June. It is a great opportunity to break bread and build and strengthen those bonds. As simple as that sounds, bringing things like that has been an important piece of building relationships and taking care of our people.”

“Just being able to continue our mission (is significant), we succeed every day we have missile tests where we test munitions. There is so much going on at WSMR. We are the best organization in the U.S. Army when it comes to test and evaluation. Every weapon system and every munition that you can imagine (is tested here and it is our job) to make sure at the end of the day when we place a capability in the hands of our warfighters that they have 100 percent confidence that it is going to work as advertised.”

“I am proud of everything that the team has accomplished. I have been privileged to work with some tremendous people.”

What were some of the challenges?

“There is a lot of mission growth right now and just looking at WSMR and the opportunities that are out there (it has been challenging). Change is hard. So, getting buy in from our own workforce as well as senior leaders across the Army and the Department of Defense of any deviation or change in mission or addition, sometimes change is hard. It has been a very positive challenge because we are starting to see some momentum and traction and awareness to recognize that there is a lot of opportunity at WSMR, and they are starting to understand.”

“Another challenge is if you look at the environment that we are in, such as significant winds and the heat, it is tough on some of our equipment, radars and optics, across the 2.2 million acres. The aging infrastructure and environment that we are in presents a continuous challenge that really isn’t going to go away. Maintaining and the upkeep of all our equipment across the range is another challenge and we have to continue to manage that.”

What part will WSMR play in the future of the Army?

“Most every capability that goes into the hands of our warfighters in some form or fashion goes through some rigorous testing and evaluation on our range to make sure it is going to work like it is supposed to.”

“In the future of warfare against more peer type adversaries it is going to be in an environment that is very contested and very challenging. It is hard to replicate that environment in peace time. If you look at different training areas where we do experimentation across the U.S. Army and across the Department of Defense, there are not many locations where you can do that. The environment that we have here at WSMR is very conducive in being able to replicate a realistic environment. I firmly believe there is going to be growth at WSMR because we can do things here, with regard to replicating that environment, that you just can’t do anywhere else.”

What did you enjoy about living at WSMR?

“We are remote and isolated and the first couple of months when I arrived that was something I wasn’t a big fan of, but it has grown on me and now I value and appreciate the peacefulness. It is quiet and safe, and it is just a fantastic environment to live in and make friends in.”

“I will miss the sense of community that we have at WSMR and the peacefulness and quiet and the safety.”

“I’m also going to miss the Organ Mountains. Most evenings you could find me in the back porch watching the sun go down behind those Organ Mountains. The morning cup of coffee as the sun comes up was equally as beautiful. Those mountains really are majestic, and I am going to miss that.”

“I am also going to miss the green chile. No better place in the world for green chile. And the people, the people I have met and the friendships I have made over the last two and a half years are incredible. I am always going to cherish those memories. Just a good group of people.”

By Miriam Rodriguez

WSMR Public Affairs