• Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, address Marshall winners during the opening session of the annual George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar, April 15, 2013, on the campus of Virginia Military Institute.

    Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith

    Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, address Marshall winners during the opening session of the annual George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar, April 15, 2013, on the campus of Virginia Military Institute.

  • Retired Gen. Richard Cody, former vice chief of staff of the Army and chairman of this year's George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar, speaks to Marshall recipients during the opening session, April 15, 2013, on the campus of Virginia Military Institute.

    Gen. Richard Cody

    Retired Gen. Richard Cody, former vice chief of staff of the Army and chairman of this year's George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar, speaks to Marshall recipients during the opening session, April 15, 2013, on the campus of Virginia Military Institute.

  • Marshall recipients stand at attention, April 15, 2013, as the national anthem in played during the opening session of the annual George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar at Virginia Military Institute.

    Marshall winners

    Marshall recipients stand at attention, April 15, 2013, as the national anthem in played during the opening session of the annual George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar at Virginia Military Institute.

LEXINGTON, Va. (April 15, 2013) -- The top students in Cadet Command's Cadet corps entered a new classroom, today, this one led by senior leaders schooling them on some of the challenges they'll soon face guiding the future force.

The mission won't be easy, a former vice chief of staff of the Army told Cadets during the opening session of the 36th annual George C. Marshall Awards and Seminar at Gillis Theatre on the campus of Virginia Military Institute, here. But retired Gen. Richard Cody said he remains optimistic that Cadets who will commission later this spring will succeed in leading what he calls the nation's greatest treasure.

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER

"I've had the honor of leading them," said Cody, who is also the seminar chairman of this year's Marshall event. "This generation of Soldiers has displayed great courage on and off the battlefield. Many have endured repetitive tours and been immersed in some of the toughest battlefield challenges we've ever put our Army in. But they have maintained their moral compass and, at every junction, fought to do what was right, rather than do what was expedient or politically correct."

The seminar is centered around the principles of leadership, integrity and character exhibited by the late George C. Marshall, the former general of the Army and American secretary of state whose famed Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of war-torn Europe after World War II earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

During the two-day seminar, Cadets will take part in a variety of roundtables focusing on everything from cyber warfare to cross-cultural challenges to joint operations. They'll also hear from some of the Army's top brass, including Gen. Robert Cone, commander of the Training and Doctrine Command.

The Marshall awards recognize the top Cadet at each of Cadet Command's 272 battalions across the country. Since its beginning, the event has honored more than 10,000 students over the years.

Attendance at this year's session, however, was scaled back due to budget constraints. Only 187 Cadets, spread across the command's eight brigades, were able to attend.

While the Army has been looking for cost-saving measures recently in the face of sequestration, senior leaders were adamant that the Marshall seminar would not be cancelled.

"The investment in our future leaders is a high priority for our Army," Cody said.

In congratulating the Cadets on their honor, Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith praised their growth and development while in the Army ROTC program. The commanding general of Cadet Command said the Cadets rank among the organization's elite, and that they will make a difference in shaping the next generation of Soldiers.

"I know your quality, and I know you had other options, yet you volunteered to commit some portion of your lives to serve in the military and to serve your country," Smith said. "You represent the strength of our nation. It is leaders like you who will keep our army strong."

Cadets will be presented an array of professional and personal development opportunities throughout the seminar, Smith said. It's up to them to absorb all they can as they prepare for the challenges ahead.

"We live in a complex world in a complex time," Smith said. "You'll be joining an Army that requires you to make decisions that colonels and lieutenant colonels were making some 25 years ago. Our junior leaders have to rise to a much different level in the environment you'll be operating in than you ever have in the past."

Page last updated Tue April 16th, 2013 at 07:00