ILE Graduation
Official Remarks - General Peter W. Chiarelli
For Release
11 December 2008


It is really great to be here with all of you this morning. I want to thank Bill Caldwell your entire team for the great discussions and presentations these past couple days.

Fort Leavenworth holds a special place in our Army. It has and continues to serve as the intellectual engine of change for our Army. Though its halls, new and old, have passed the great minds of our Army and the Nation. And through its hallowed halls continue that great tradition.

Here on the campus of the Command and General Staff School, the 'profession of arms' comes to life in vibrant and never before imagined ways. Here we tap into the collective knowledge of a generation at war to better ourselves, better our profession, and better our Nation.

The last time I gave a briefing here, a little over three years ago as a Division Commander just back from Iraq our Army was struggling to adapt to the reality of fighting 'full spectrum'. It was there we recognized that the probability of future conflict will be a mix-match of offense, defense, and stability operations - happening all the time, shifting constantly - sometimes without notice.

We were 'learning by doing' about the careful balance needed between the Hard Power of kinetics and the Soft Power of economics, the Soft Power of communications, and the soft power of diplomacy to move from a romantic notion of just 'closing with and destroying the enemy' as our only job to a more nuanced and sophisticated set of core-competencies that force us to examine how we instead 'close with and influence the populace'.

What became 'decisive' was no longer something you could always find reading the contour lines of a map, but something more intangible manifested in ideas and opinions, to be reinforced by actions, and those actions in turn reinforcing the ideas. Building momentum through the populace set on a global stage.

Today the intellectual capacity to thrive and win in these complex and ambiguous environments is stronger than it has ever been because of the intellectual crucible of these halls and the strength of experience and practical application that our Army has gained over the last seven years.

The relatively small size of this graduating class is a metaphor for our Army today. The total force, Active and Reserve component, side by side with our sister services, Allies and inter-agency partners with almost a third, 30% of this class having deployed at least twice into combat zones. Almost 80% at least once.

Many of you came here off a 15 month rotations only to walk off this stage this today, climb into the planes, trains and automobiles and step back into operational units who are deploying or will deploy within days, or within weeks, or within months of your arrival.

We are an Army at war and will be engaged in some form of policy by other means for some time. The breakneck speed of growth of the planet, the mass migration towards unplanned urban sprawl, and the growing scarcity of resources is creating a morass of disenfranchised generations. Add to the mix an increasing level and transformation of information technology... you begin to see it as a perfect breeding ground...the seed-corn for extremists who see opportunity in those who have no hope. Extremists who have studied and understand the weaknesses of large bureaucracies and use the very tools of government against them.

I read an article in the New York Times that put the current recession in context. It stated: "While critics of military spending have long argued that the money and manpower could be better employed in the civilian sector, virtually no one questions that military spending has served as a powerful source of economic demand.... Not since the 1950's has the United States recovered from a recession while military spending was falling sharply..." That New York Times article was written in 1992. It will be interesting to see what globalization does to this idea.

But you all know this. You are part of the 'in-between' generation of our Army. 'Tweeners' Or 'tweens'. You have grown up on the intellectual fault-line of our Profession your entire adult life...between the Baby Boomers and Generation X. You learned in the classrooms and your first assignments one way of doing things but have lived and executed another. You have literally watched the doctrine of how we fight shift beneath your feet.

You are frustrated by bureaucracy but you found ways around that bureaucracy and have leveraged the connective tissue of the net as a vehicle to move forward.

Collaboration to you is not a word, but a way of life. You grew up more connected than your superiors, but less connected than your subordinates. To you, Companycommand.com was an innovation... a revolution in the way we do business. It pulled you and your peers into a worldwide discussion of self-development and intellectual curiosity that has only made our Army stronger. The meritocracy of ideas. Your superiors generally still look at what you did on Companycommand.com as threatening and 'out of control'..something hard to put parameters around. But to you there are no borders. And your subordinates don't know any different... it's the way they live... thriving virtually in many places at once. Myspace, twitter, text-messaging, Facebook, online gaming worlds.

The simple reality is that your generation is teaching us old guys more than we are teaching you. I wonder sometimes if we are listening. Our hierarchical culture, roots planted in the industrial age, is running smack dab into the collaborative nature of social networking and the information age... and we quite simply are not adapting fast enough.

Unlike your subordinates who consider this normal, you are the generation amazed by it, but comfortable enough to live within the idea, outside the wiring diagrams. I see collaboration as one of the emerging, most powerful forms of command we can bring to the fight. Stronger than anything we've experienced in generations.

And I'm not talking about sitting around a table coming to a consensus on a proposed course of action... that's not it at all. It's pushing the boundaries of technology and ideas into a rapid adaptation to the environment that allows us to create a comparative advantage against our adversaries... its collective learning and adaptation at the speed of thought rather than the speed of the TPS cover sheet.

Huba Wass de Czega, who lurks these halls, called the operational art " taking an unstructured problem and giving it enough structure so that planning can lead to useful action." You who have experienced the full spectrum of modern war do all the time!

You represent the leading edge of a generation who has an instinctual ability to apply the operational art to the complexity of a Full Spectrum Environment. You understand how to build and enable mutually beneficial relationships, many times across the org charts or off the org charts for that matter. You can sense commonalities and opportunities. You lead through collaboration with your peers. You are hungry for new knowledge, new ideas, and new constructs.

'Tweeners' with one foot in the industrial age, and the other in the information age.

This cross-over we are in makes the idea of the Strategic Corporal a reality. General Krulak got it right almost 10 years ago. It is demanding we relook the first principles of 'command and control'. Collaboration, as a rule can empower the ideas, the knowledge and the decisions of groups and organizations like never before. It can redefine how we can create tactical, operational, and strategic advantage.

And what we do to empower that Corporal, that Sergeant, that Lieutenant or that Captain who can today deftly organize and apply all the elements of national power. Who are mentally and emotionally agile. Who are resilient in the midst of chaos and complexity. Who intuitively think in terms of offense, defense, and stability ...all the time ... will do more to create an advantage today than anything I know.

They are our future, and I am convinced that you will get them there.

In this audience sit the Fox Conner's of tomorrow. Who from the crucible of the battlefields of World War I, like the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have reflected, analyzed and internalized the lessons for the future. The Fox Conner's of tomorrow will find that young Captain or Lieutenant, raw and unformed, in the Joint Security Stations and in the motorpools... who has an unnoticed potential and a rawness of energy.

Cultivate, challenge, and mentor them towards a brighter future for not only our Army, but our nation.

About a week and a half ago, I spent an evening with Command Sergeant Major Johndrow at the Army Science Conference down in Orlando, Florida. As we sat in a hotel lobby we talked about leadership, the quality of our Force today, and what it meant for the future.

We talked about two young Majors, George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower, who following World War I were stationed just up the road from the Pentagon at Fort Meade. They literally lived next door to each other. Their families played together. They talked long into the evening over some beverage of choice.

Patton and Eisenhower were commanders in the fledgling Tank Corps. Back then you could literally drive a Tank into your back yard. There the two of them tore apart a Mark VIII Tank bolt by bolt. Studying it, examining it. Learning all they could from it.

Patton had literally created the Tank Corps in the fields of France during World War I, Eisenhower stayed in the States as a Training commander. But each of them could see the potential the Tank - which didn't really perform as well as expected - could have on the future of warfare.

Each believed they needed to write about it. To get their ideas out into the professional discussion much the way many of you do today in the Branch Journals and in Military Review.

Patton wrote to the Infantry Journal in May to 1920 in the flamboyant prose that marked his character: "The Tank is distinctly a new instrument [to be] added to the full chorus of the military band."

Eisenhower took his shot a few months later in a bit more refined way: "many officers are prone to denounce the tank as a freak development...they simply ignore it in their calculations and mental pictures of future battles. The tank, in point of development, in its infancy, and the great strides already made in its improvement only point to greater [improvements] still to come."

They had pushed the idea into the professional conversation... the equivalent of what we see today on the net. Then: A meritocracy of ideas waged within the confines of the professional journals. Today: in blogs, in articles, in journals, in op/eds.

The Chief of the Infantry read through the Journal and was intrigued by the articles written by the two Majors. So much so that he called the Eisenhower into his Washington D.C. office for a 'quick' chat. Well, the chat was more like a one-way conversation. As Ike recalled: "I was told that my ideas were not only wrong but dangerous and that henceforth I would keep them to myself. Particularly, I was not to publish anything incompatible with solid... doctrine. If I did, I would be hauled before a court-martial."

Stephen Ambrose would later write: "[they] were true pioneers, original and creative in their thought. But the Army was not pleased." Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton took their cue from Chief and toed the line. They swallowed their ideas and put to rest for the time their seemingly breakthrough ideas.

Today we'd call that 'scared straight'. And the impact of being 'scared straight' by the well-meaning senior officer literally stopped the advance of the Tank for over seven years.

So General... what the hell's the point'

There are Patton's and Eisenhower's out there today. Pushing the institution out of its comfort zone and into intellectual territories we may not like, but must explore. They are the Paul Yinglings and John Nagl's. We as senior officers cannot let our defense of the way it should be prevent what could be. We must cultivate and foster voices and opinions that are not in line with the establishment.

We owe it to ourselves as a profession. As James Schneider wrote in Army Magazine last month: "all professions maintain their fundamental integrity through some ethical commitment to service....."

In a field hospital in France in October of 1917, two officers shared a hospital room together. George Patton, and the Operations Officer for General John J. Pershing and the American Expeditionary Force, Fox Conner. There the two discussed what Patton had seen of the Tanks that were being built by the French... the potential benefit they could bring to the fight. There is strong evidence to support that from those conversations General Pershing selected Patton to set up the American Tank School.

Later Fox Conner would give Patton his gold oak leaves when he was promoted.

Three years later, as Patton and Eisenhower were wrestling with where the bolts went in the Tank, it was Patton that invited Fox Conner to dinner. He invited Dwight Eisenhower along. Conner and Patton, mentor and mentee, and now Eisenhower talked deep into the evening... and from there a relationship was formed. Fox Conner would later request that Eisenhower be stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as his executive officer where he put Ike through a pre-CGSC course that would be the envy of any SAMS student today. Conner later worked his contacts in the War Department to get Ike to the Command and General Staff College, where he graduated first in his class.

The rest you know. A mentorship and relationship was formed. Fox Connor could see, much like I want you to see, the potential in men such as George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower and chose to challenge them beyond their comfort zone mentoring them into positions that would determine the fate of our world and into the annals of history.

Fox Conner is barely known to any other than the true military history buff. One of the subordinates on his staff during World War I was George Marshall. In 1930 Fox Conner was considered to be the next Chief of Staff of the Army, but another was selected n his place - Douglas MacArthur. He retired from active duty in 1938 after nearly 40 years of service. History missed him, but his legacy echoes through the ages, through the personalities of some of our greatest military minds, and through the halls of Fort Leavenworth.

We all know professionals and mentors like Fox Conner. Many of you are or have a Fox Conner in your lives. In fact, one of my Fox Conner's sits with us in the audience today.

So as you leave Fort Leavenworth and reflect on your 10 month exercise in work/life balance and having to toil through the ruminations of 35 some-odd speakers, take to heart that you are the 'tweens' of our Army. Moving effortlessly from the war we thought we would fight to living wars we are and will fight in the future. You have a lot to give to the force. You have a lot to give to those that work with you and for you.

They deserve a Fox Conner. Much the same way George Patton and Ike Eisenhower looked at what they had in the Tank and thought about 'what could be', I know within this class there are ideas that represent just the tip of the iceberg of how we create advantage today and tomorrow.

These ideas: collaboration as a form of command; mentorship; The Profession of Arms... they cannot be forced as much as they need to be cultivated and harnessed. The value will find you. You are standing between two worlds and you are bridge carrying our Army through the two wars we are fighting today and what we will encounter in the future. You know that in this new age, our nation will require us as the military to be a committed and engaged force.

We have adapted, and continue to adapt with amazing clarity. The doctrine of the 3-0, the 3-24, the 3-07, and the 7-0 are examples of our innate ability to adapt and are the bulwarks by which we create success. We have had to learn as a force and through the updating of these key doctrinal manuals that we have to move away from prescriptive examples of success. Instead, today they are frameworks to allow the operational art to create some semblance of structure from the unstructured complexity of the future.

Many of you will walk out of this hall, get in your cars and head straight to units getting ready to deploy once again. Cultivate collaboration as a way to get inside the decision cycle of our adversaries. Instead of a hierarchy fighting a network... let your network fight their network. You will find that we can move, learn, and adapt faster than ever dreamed.

To the families gathered here today, it is you who I should thank the most. Without your support, without your sacrifice we cannot do what we do. You have put your lives on hold in defense of an idea. You wait patiently by the door day after day, week after week, deployment after deployment. Steeling yourselves to an unknown knock at the door. Your burden is great, and it is you who are the unsung heroes of this war.

Thank you for allowing me the very highest honor of speaking to you all this morning. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for your service.

Army Strong.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16