FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Aug. 12, 2010) - Capt. Edson Cairo said he doesn't feel any pressure in being the first officer from his country to attend the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

After all, he was also the first from the South American country of Suriname to attend special forces training at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Cairo said he brings with him an enthusiasm to learn about U.S. Army practices, a chance to share his own native culture and develop partnerships that can help lead his country forward.

Suriname and Kosovo joined the ranks of foreign militaries sending officers to participate in a yearlong Intermediate Level Education program at CGSC, which began with the international flag ceremony Aug. 9. The CGSC ILE class of 2011-01 has 1,040 students, including 69 international officers from 63 countries around the world. The class also includes nine U.S. interagency civilians and one Department of Defense civilian. The bulk of the class are U.S. Army, Army Reserve, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard officers.

Capt. Ismael Diaouari is also in the program this year from Burkina Faso. He said he also looked forward to opportunities for cultural exchange. He said his country, part of the African continent, was not to be confused with other African countries.

"It's a developing country, (and) despite the fact that we don't have natural resources, we have hardworking people," he said. "It's a peaceful country, and we have good relationships with our neighbors."

Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr, commandant of CGSC and commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, told international officers their presence not only helps build partnerships between countries, but also provides U.S. officers with a firsthand perspective of each country's culture and terrain. Caslen said this cooperation is necessary to overcome insurgent threats.

"Many nations here today have recognized this threat, and have responded in kind, to stand in the gap between this evil and each nation's security," he said. "We recognize and honor the tremendous sacrifices that you have made to preserve justice and peace throughout the world. It is an honor to stand beside you as we confront this menace."

Marine Corps Maj. Clint Crosser, originally from Parkville, Mo., said he was pleased with the chance to come home.

"I really want to learn about what the other branches of the military are doing and why they do it," he said.

Crosser will be integrated into a staff group of about 16 other students so he'll learn about the Army's decision-making process and be able to share the inner workings of the Marines. Ironing out issues of joint operations was just one of the reasons he was encouraged to attend CGSC, he said.

Army National Guard Maj. Steve Denney is originally from Lawrence, Kan. He said he also wanted to share with his classmates a deeper understanding of the Guard's federal and state missions.
"I feel my classmates probably have a lot of experiences to share," he said.

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