MEMORABLE DAY
Col. David Cotter, center, congratulated the first class of officers who graduated Friday from Redstone Arsenal's satellite campus of the Command and General Staff College. With him are two of those graduates - Maj. Tony Parilli, left, and Maj. Alejandro Restrepo. Cotter, the director of the Command and General Staff College, was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Redstone Arsenal has one good marketing tool in its Command and General Staff College satellite campus.

The new satellite campus, which graduated its first class of officers from the intermediate level education common core course Friday, draws Soldiers from throughout the country. A survey of its parking lot on graduation day showed car tags from states like Colorado, New York, Kansas, Washington and Michigan.

For Maj. Alejandro Restrepo, a New Jersey native and currently a cadet company commander at West Point, N.Y., attending the Arsenal satellite campus opened up a future of assignment possibilities.

"Everybody was so receptive here. It made it so enjoyable to be here for four months," Restrepo said. "If I ever have an opportunity to be stationed here, I will take it. I never knew about Redstone Arsenal before I came here for this course."

While the satellite campus has become an unofficial marketing tool for the Arsenal, its Friday graduation marked the satellite's first effort in its official capacity to help the Army Command and General Staff College build the Army's strength in its middle management officer corps. The satellite educates and develops leaders for full spectrum joint, interagency and multinational operations.

"This first graduation is important because we need to put as many majors as we can out in the field to command," Mary Goodwin, team leader for the satellite campus, said.

The Command and General Staff College, located at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., graduates about 1,200 majors and captains from the ILE common core course each year. Its four satellite offices - at Redstone; Fort Belvoir and Fort Lee, Va.; and Fort Gordon, Ga. - conduct three courses each year, graduating an additional 2,300 officers annually. Each course can take up to 74 officers.

There were 67 graduates in Redstone's first graduation class.

"When they graduate from this course, they are conversant in strategy operations, tactics, joint processes and interagency functions," Col. David Cotter, director of the Command and General Staff College, said.

"They now have the intellectual tools to become senior field grade leaders. They all come from different places and they will now go back to the operational Army. They will go to Hawaii, Korea, Germany, all over the U.S., and some will deploy in short order."

The four-month course included instruction in strategic, operational and tactical studies. It also offered classes in parallel history, leadership and force management.

"They've internalized a lot of educational goals," Cotter said. "But more than anything else, we believe we've provided the Army with officers who are adaptive, critical leaders for today's environment of uncertainty."

The course, said Maj. John Cuva, provided a better understanding of how to be successful in working with all branches of the military.

"The big focus I learned is the joint side of the Army, and the importance of working with the other branches and learning how those other branches work," he said.

"In my work as a human resources officer, I will be going to Fort Bragg, N.C., to be the 18th Airborne Corps strength manager. The main thing with personnel is putting the right people in the right job at the right time. I will be using what I learned in force management at Fort Bragg to manage the forces."

Besides the educational opportunity offered at Redstone, Cuva also took advantage of the time his assignment allowed him to spend with his young family, including wife Adriana, and children 6-year-old Isabella and 4-year-old John Jr.

"My new unit will definitely be deploying to Afghanistan in a year," he said. "So this was also a great time to have some family time."

The course also gave officers the opportunity to network and develop relationships that will be beneficial in future assignments.

"I really enjoyed the interaction with officers from across the Army," Restrepo said. "We got to interact with different parts of the Army - acquisition, transportation, programmers. We could share information with each other from all those different aspects."

The friendships and working relationships established among the officers during the course will make it easier for them to work together on issues they face at future assignments.

"It's a very small Army and as you go up in rank it becomes smaller," Maj. Tony Parilli said. "We were able to build bonds and establish friendships that will help us later when we confront issues."

Parilli especially enjoyed the leadership challenges of the course and hopes to incorporate lessons learned in his next assignment as the human resources officer for the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.

"We were taught the strategic level of things. That's new for us because we've been working at the lower level - or tactical level," he said.

Taking the course at Redstone's satellite campus has allowed Parilli to spend time with his wife Patricia and their two young sons, and his wife's family, who live in Huntsville. The family enjoyed a weekend at Panoply before leaving Tuesday for Fort Bragg.

"The neat thing about this satellite is it allows us to work on our academic pieces while also mitigating our next assignment," Parilli said. "There's a lot of flexibility here to prepare for our next assignment because the reality is everyone in this class will deploy. We are a nation at war and we are this nation's Army."

Page last updated Fri April 30th, 2010 at 15:26