BG Folkestad was born into an Army family and grew up learning to appreciate the outdoors in Portland, Oregon, before joining the Army. After initial training and airborne school, he was assigned as a parachute rigger at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where his enlisted career culminated with over 2200 jumps as a parachutist for the United States Army Parachute Team, the “Golden Knights,” one of three aerial demonstration teams in the Department of Defense.
Following Folkestad’s 1991 graduation from Officer Candidate School and Army pilot training, he served in a range of operational and staff assignments in the regular Army and in the Army Reserve. He left active duty following Operation Desert Storm and transitioned to the Army Reserve flying Chinook helicopters and serving nine years as a traditional reservist before becoming a full-time active Guard/Reserve officer. He supported the Reserve Forces Policy Board and was the Army Reserve liaison to the National Commission for the Future of the Army.
From 2011 to 2014, he served as the deputy commander of the Army Air Operations Group in Washington, D.C., providing airlift support to DOD leaders. Other assignments include the Department of the Army, deputy chief of staff G-3/5/7, where he served as a staff officer responsible for developing and gaining Army approval for a series of capability enhancements and the expansion of Army aviation forces in the regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve. Prior to service in the Pentagon, then-Maj. Folkestad served as the executive officer of 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment; an Army Reserve unit stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
BG Folkestad took part in the deployment of Chinook helicopters for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and assisted in a major reorganization to integrate Blackhawk helicopters to the battalion. Earlier 5th Battalion deployments included unit mobilization to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Chinook Flight Platoon Leader.
BG Folkestad served in the regular Army and deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, as well as in humanitarian relief operations for Hurricane Andrew in Homestead, Florida. BG Folkestad is qualified in Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters and is a graduate of the Army War College with a master's in strategic studies, as well as Campbell University in North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in history.
His awards include the Army Senior Aviator badge, Master Parachutist badge, Military Freefall badge, Bronze Star, Air Medal, and the usual decorations expected for an officer of his service. He is a 2016 Fellow to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XXI, National Security and Foreign Policy program.
Brigadier General (BG) Eric Folkestad most recently served as the deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Africa and the Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, Italy. USARAF/SETAF provides mission command, protects the force, sets the theater, conducts security force assistance, and supports joint and international partners in order to achieve USAFRICOM and U.S. Army Campaign Plan objectives. On order, serves as the JTF-HQ in support of USAFRICOM contingency operations.