Eric T. Jensen attended ROTC at BYU and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army upon graduation in 1989, with a BA in international relations. “My first assignment was to Fort Knox for basic officer training, where I was taught basic officership as well as basic military tactics within the Armor branch,” said Jensen. “After nine months, I was assigned to a unit known as a Divisional Cavalry unit in Germany. When I arrived in Germany, my unit was doing the last border patrol between what was then East and West Germany. While in Germany, I was leader of a platoon of soldiers, including three tanks and five armored personnel carriers.”
Jensen’s education and upbringing, as the son of an Army officer, piqued his interest in international issues, particularly international and comparative law. “I was looking for a way to satisfy my compulsion to give military service and also work in the international law arena,” he explained. “While in Germany, I discovered that the Army had a program to send me to law school—fully funded. I would have to commit to staying in the Army as a JAG officer for six years after that. Of course, that sounded like something that would allow me to pursue both my professional interests, so I applied and was accepted.”
Thereafter, he attended law school at the University of Notre Dame. Jensen noted that the “educational highlight” was spending the entire second year at Notre Dame’s London campus, where he focused on international issues, adding to the solid foundation he gained at BYU.
Upon graduation and successful passing of the Indiana Bar, the Army transferred Jensen to Alaska, where he got his first chance as prosecutor for eighteen months. “Though I enjoyed criminal law, I still longed to do international law. I received the opportunity to deploy with Task Force Eagle to Bosnia, so I left Alaska and spent the next four years in Germany, including two deployments to Bosnia and several trips to other spots such as Kosovo, Macedonia, and Poland,” Jensen reported.
In the summer of 2000, he returned to the U.S. to attend a ten-month course at the U.S. Army JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the grounds of University of Virginia (UVA). “During the course, I once again focused on international law and wrote a paper that was recently published in the Stanford Journal of International Law.” After completing the course, Jensen was assigned to teach international and operational law at the school, where he began his second year this fall.
“There is no doubt that my education at BYU, particularly my association with Dr. Eric Hyer, Dr. Valerie Hudson, and others, has had a significant impact on my professional qualifications and ambitions,” Jensen attested. “While at BYU, I worked as a teaching assistant for Dr. Hyer, which involved teaching a Friday class. That whetted my appetite for teaching and helped guide me in my decision to teach at the Army JAG school now. Also, the background in international relations and national security studies has been the foundation for my work in the Army.
“More importantly, the ongoing mentoring from Dr. Hyer (even this many years after graduation) has not only been a great professional benefit but also a wonderful example for me as I try to fill my role as a professor,” said Jensen. “I certainly would recommend (and have done so many times) BYU’s international relations and political science departments to prospective university students, not only for the intellectual expertise they will gain there, but also for the leadership and overall educational experience they will receive.”