WASHINGTON (TRADOC News Service, Oct. 6, 2008) - The commanding general of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen William S. Wallace spoke to an audience of nearly 500 ROTC and Junior ROTC cadets and shared some of his experiences from his 39-year military career. As he looked out in the audience of young ROTC and JROTC cadets, the general saw the future of the Army.

"I've spent 39 years in uniform and I will be passing the baton in a short period of time," said Wallace. "I am getting increasingly more nostalgic as we get closer to my departure from active duty. When I look at the young people in the audience today and the young people I get to talk to when I visit our colleges and universities and JROTC programs around the country, I am absolutely convinced that our future is brighter than our past because of these young men and women who have chosen service over self and raised their right hands and swore to support and defend the Constitution of this great Nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Wallace talked about the inspiration and drive that the young cadets bring to the Army.

"The considerable efforts and sacrifices given by so many Americans would be for not if it wasn't for the next generation of American heroes," said Wallace. "These young people are willing to carry forward the standard that many of you have set in this great Army."

The general spoke to the cadets about TRADOC and explained why the command carries the motto "Victory Starts Here!"

"It starts in our colleges and universities, our training areas and classrooms across the Training and Doctrine Command," said Wallace. "It is where the foundation of our great Army is built. It is where young people learn to be leaders. In our Army, we don't go out and hire leaders. We build leaders from the ground up. We take young men and women who have chosen service over self, young men and women who want to serve in our Army and want to be part of a winning team and we make them into a Dwight Eisenhower or a George Marshall or a George Patton or any of the hundreds and hundreds of great leaders our Army has produced.

"These young cadets are just like them when they were cadets," Wallace continued. "They were just average folks who had a desire to be a Soldier and a desire to lead Soldiers. They were average folks who had a desire to serve our great nation. Just average folks that we turned into the planet's very best leaders."

After announcing the release of the Army's new field manual "Stability Operations," Wallace explained how it will impact the cadets in the audience.

"The leadership you will provide and the Soldiers you will lead will be in a much more complex environment than I faced in 39 years ago when I was a young cadet leaving West Point," said Wallace. "Empowering subordinates is the hallmark of our Army leadership. In a short time, much will be expected of you as junior officers and leaders in the Army."

The general talked about his visits to many colleges and JROTC units around the country and said he always gets two questions asked of him. Will I be ready to lead when I stand in front of my platoon for the first time'

"The answer I give them is absolutely," said Wallace. "We have been doing it for over 200 years. The same leadership training they are getting is the same leadership training that the likes of Patton and Eisenhower and Marshall got in their upbringing. We're not going to stand you up in front of a platoon until we are absolutely sure you are going to be successful. We have no interest whatsoever in your failure. The foundation and education that you are receiving now, we are going to build on."

The general said that after every war, there is a group of leaders who emerge. A very competent group with great strength of character who lead from the front and measure up to the challenges they faced in that conflict. They evolve into great leaders who carry a wealth of knowledge and experience for both the Army and the nation.

He went on to say that out of our current conflict there will be a new group of great leaders suggested that it is the cadets who were in the audience.

"Victory starts with you," said Wallace. "Congratulations to each of you, regardless of whether you win an award. As long as you wear the uniform, as long as you want to serve, as long as you want to be a Soldier, it makes no difference whether it is three years or 39. When you hang up the uniform you will leave the Army a better citizen than you would have been if you had not had the military experience."

As the general closed he asked everyone to pause for a moment sometime throughout their day.

"Somewhere in places like Khandahar and Mosul, Kabul and Baghdad and hundreds of other places around the world, there is an American Soldier walking point," said Wallace. "We all know that walking point is a great position of responsibility. It is also a position of great danger. We know that young Soldier who is walking point is showing unquestionable courage and valor. He is walking point not only for his squad or battalion, but also for you and me and for the country he's are operating in. If it were not for his boots on the ground, if it were not for the American Soldier, the people of that country would have no opportunity. American Soldiers provide opportunity because of the security they provide and the compassion they show.

Page last updated Thu October 9th, 2008 at 14:23