A career New California Republic Army soldier, General Lee Oliver is an outspoken supporter of warhawk President Aaron Kimball and his campaign of eastward expansion. As the commander of the republic's forces in the Mojave, he is responsible for the overall strategy in the theater. Although as leader of the Mojave Campaign, Oliver has a tendency to plan strategically questionable operations that are decidedly inferior to his skills on a tactical level. In short, he is seen as a blockheaded, aggressive glory hound without the forethought necessary for effective military campaigns.
This is perhaps best exemplified by his preparations for the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, which Robert House mockingly calls "tunnel vision," where he diverts few resources to rather pressing strategic issues; for example, while the Legion builds an increasingly strong foothold on the western bank of the Colorado River south of Hoover Dam, Lee recently left his administrative post at Camp McCarran to build up the garrison at the dam proper, and intends to confront the Legion in a glorious great battle with a mass of NCR troops in an attempt to destroy the enemy through attrition. This strategy has earned him the defamatory moniker "General Wait-and-see" among many lower-ranking officers and soldiers, who generally don't think much of him, and believe that he got his post largely due to cronyism.
The situation is complicated by Oliver's personal grudge against the Rangers and Chief Hanlon, due to the role they played during the First Battle of Hoover Dam in 2277. The strategic ingenuity of Hanlon's plan earned him widespread praise and popularity, obscuring Oliver's contribution. As a result, Oliver is determined to win the second battle entirely with his own methods, to the point of obstinately refusing to listen to Hanlon's input and jeopardizing Rangers in the field.
Despite this, Oliver is not without redeeming qualities. He is a patriot, dedicated to the NCR and what it stands for. At the same time, he is also a rational man, unwilling to throw his men away at a lost cause or to just protect the NCR's honor if he is convinced he would lose. He has the republic's interests at heart and is willing to commit drastic changes to the campaign if he is convinced they would benefit the Republic in the long term.
Interactions with the player character
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- Eureka!: If the Courier sides with the NCR, General Oliver is the one to brief one on their objectives at the beginning of the battle. After the victory, Oliver personally congratulates the Courier in the Legate's camp.
- All or Nothing, No Gods, No Masters: If the Courier chose either to work with Mr. House or to fight for an independent Vegas, Lee Oliver also appears after Lanius is dealt with. He can be talked down with a Barter, Science or Speech check (100) or killed by the Securitrons. Additionally, in a scene exclusive to the independent path, if the general is convinced to tell his troops to stand down, the player character can then order him thrown off Hoover Dam, resulting in a cutscene where Yes Man throws Oliver over the side of one of the dam's watchtowers.
- Veni, Vidi, Vici: If the Courier has chosen to aid Caesar, General Oliver becomes the secondary antagonist, after President Aaron Kimball. The player character will need to battle their way through his defenses and reach his personal compound within the dam. There, Oliver can be persuaded to withdraw from the Mojave. If not, he escapes to his office, being protected by force fields. The Courier will then have to fight their way through to him, eventually cornering him and killing him.
Effects of player's actions
- If the player character sides with the NCR, Oliver becomes a public hero, lauded for his leadership and strategic and tactical ability while more modest leaders like Colonel James Hsu and Chief Hanlon shy away from the limelight. He remains in the NCR Army following the Mojave campaign and continues to serve as its highest-ranking officer.
- If the player character sides with Mr. House, Caesar's Legion or takes charge of an independent New Vegas and passes all the Speech checks needed to convince Oliver to withdraw rather than fight to the death, Oliver's military career is ruined by the NCR's failure in the Mojave campaign. If the player character sides with him, Mr. House states in dialogue that there is a possibility that the general will eventually commit suicide.
- If the player character sides with Mr. House, Caesar's Legion or creates an independent New Vegas and does not pass or attempt the Speech checks, Oliver stands his ground even in the face of total defeat and dies fighting.
- If the Courier orders him to in the course of establishing an independent New Vegas, Yes Man will throw Oliver over the side of Hoover Dam to his death.
- Oliver has some manner of grudge against Colonel James Hsu and is stated by Craig Boone to have interfered with Hsu's own career, preventing him from advancing past full colonel. Boone says that without Oliver getting in the way, Hsu would have been a general well before 2281.
- Oliver is the highest-ranking NCR Army commissioned officer in 2281, and the top-ranked officer in the Army to appear in the game.
- Despite being wildly disliked among the NCR army and Chief Hanlon, many of Oliver's tactics end up being beneficial to the NCR army in the Second Battle of Hoover Dam, which implies that General Oliver, despite Hanlon's objections, is an effective commander in his own right:
- Despite Hanlon's objections, Oliver moved the NCR Rangers off the ridge overlooking the dam onto the actual dam. The Legion, knowing the best marksmen in the NCR Army are normally at the rear of the battle, acquired a howitzer to counter them. If the Courier sides with them it can be repaired, but it is used to shell an empty ridge, allowing the Rangers to remain effective.
- Another example is Oliver's emphasis on NCR heavy troopers over NCR Rangers, as these soldiers would be adept in the close quarters fighting that the Second Battle of Hoover Dam entails, as the Legion finds a backdoor into the tunnels beneath the dam, rather than the top of the dam where the Rangers would be most effective.
- "Look, I know you're riding high right now, but let me tell you. You ain't pissing on me right now, you're pissing on the Bear."
- "This paper of yours? Isn't fit to wipe my ass. If you think after all that's happened, I'm going to grab my ankles and take it like the Legion..."
- "I would sooner spit on the grave of my dead mother than let some Courier, 'walk-the-wasteland' fuck talk to me like that. "
- "Could use a hundred of you, just scatter you over the East like jacks, give those plumed fucks the what-for."
- "What the hell?! No, get away from me, you goddamn TV on wheels!"
- "Do you know what you're doing? Making a nation - like you think you're doing, ain't like chowing down on a pile of Fancy Lad Snack Cakes. Think you got the guts to to carve out a frontier? Build towns, protect the roads, run supplies, train troops?"
Behind the scenes
- Question on Joshua Sawyer's Formspring: General Oliver doesn't seem to grasp basic military strategy. What real life persons were an inspiration for his character? Would you agree [with] Oliver [being] the main cause the war is going badly for the NCR?
- During his final congratulatory speech to the Courier after they destroy the Legion Camp, Oliver mispronounces "plumed" (as it is written in the captions, referencing the colored horsehair plumes worn by the Legion) as "plumbed"Emerson Brooks.
- J.E. Sawyer: "He's a mishmash of various aggressive, blockheaded military commanders. Generals LeMay and Patton are obvious examples, though completely without the forethought of those two men."
- The Courier: "How will the NCR defend Hoover Dam?"
Robert House: "General Oliver's - or "tunnel vision," as I like to call it - has been to mass troops at Hoover Dam. He wants to out-fight the Legion in a straight-forward slugging match, and then, when they rout, pursue and destroy them in detail. A crushing, decisive victory of this sort would overshadow the tactical ingenuity of Chief Hanlon's defense four years ago, you see."
(Robert House's dialogue)
- Mr. New Vegas: "Unconfirmed reports say NCR's General Lee Oliver may have uprooted from his post at Camp McCarran in order to be present at Hoover Dam. NCR sources say that holding the Dam against Caesar's Legion has become their main strategic priority, and this move would not be unexpected."
(Mr. New Vegas' dialogue)
- The Courier: "What do you think of General Oliver?"
Craig Boone: "Didn't know him. He's a signature on my discharge papers. Wasn't real popular, though. Even overheard my C.O. complain about him once. General Wait-and-see, he called him."
(Craig Boone's dialogue)
- The Courier: "Do you know Colonel Hsu at all?"
Craig Boone: "Yeah. He introduced himself to me once. I shook his hand. Doubt he'd remember me now, though. When he looked at you, you could see he understood. After some of the things we'd seen, that meant something. What I heard, he'd be a general right now if Oliver didn't know the president."
(Craig Boone's dialogue)
- The Courier: "Tell me about General Oliver."
Hanlon: "Oh, well... now, you'll have to excuse me. The general and I don't always see eye to eye on things. Maybe it's best that I just say that he is a trooper, through and through. The man will not give up an inch for anything, least of all to the Legion."
- Robert House: " Kimball won't be able to save him - he'll be too busy getting thrown out of office. "
(Robert House's dialogue) Note: These lines are spoken if the Courier talks Oliver into leaving Hoover Dam peacefully during All or Nothing.
- The Courier: "<Attack> Actually, nothing of the sort. We've come to exterminate you."
Lee Oliver: "Figured as much. Come on, you sons of bitches. We're ready."
(General Oliver's dialogue)