Brigadier General Benjamin Watson
Vice Chief of Naval Research and Commanding General, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory
Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson graduated from Cornell University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in history, and was commissioned through the NROTC program. After completing the Basic School and Infantry Officer Course, he reported to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he served as a rifle platoon commander, weapons platoon commander and executive officer with Company K—completing deployments with both the 24th and 26th MEU (SOC).
Watson served as commanding officer, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and operations officer, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, from 1999-2002—during which time he deployed with both the 22nd and 24th MEU (SOC), participating in Operations Provide Promise and Deny Flight, in and around the former Yugoslavia, as well as in Operation Dynamic Response in Kosovo.
He was G-3 future operations planner, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) from 2006-2007, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which time he also served with Regimental Combat Team-7; G-3 plans officer, 1st Marine Division, from 2007-2008; and commanding officer, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, from 2008-2011, during which time he deployed as battalion landing team 3/1 on a 31st MEU deployment, and then again to Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Watson also served as assistant division commander, 2nd Marine Division and as commanding general of the second rotation of Task Force Southwest, deploying to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
In 2019, Watson assumed responsibility as the commanding general, Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory/Futures Directorate, and as the vice chief of naval research, Office of Naval Research.
His service outside the operating forces includes duty as a tactics instructor at the Basic School from 1995-1997, and as an instructor at the Infantry Officer Course from 1997-1998. From 2002-2005, Watson was an instructor and faculty advisor at the Expeditionary Warfare School. From 2012-2013, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as senior military assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. From 2013-2014, he was reassigned to the Immediate Office of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel for duty as special assistant to the chief of staff. Watson served as the commanding officer of Marine Barracks, Washington D.C. (8th and I) from 2014-2016.
Watson is a graduate of the Marine Corps Summer Mountain Leaders Course (honor graduate), Amphibious Warfare School (distinguished graduate and recipient of the Larry K. Shipman award for Ground Combat Arms), Marine Corps Command and Staff College (non-resident), Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting and the National War College (distinguished graduate). His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device, the Meritorious Service Medal (2), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3) and the Combat Action Ribbon (2).