Brooks sets stage for ILE students
February 17, 2012
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Feb. 16, 2012) -- Lt. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of Third Army, said that while killing Osama bin Laden was a courageous act by the U.S. military, it's not enough.
It's not enough, he said, because this act of retribution will not end the war with terrorist factions like al-Qaida. It won't bring back the U.S. service members who have died in the wars following the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. And for future military leaders like U.S. Army majors, they have to be prepared to deal with what comes next -- what comes after the death of bin Laden.
And none know better than U.S. service members who have lost friends and family fighting the Global War on Terrorism, Brooks said.
"In an abstract sense … when people don't die, others think about the cost of war too easily," he said.
Brooks delivered the "stage-setting" address to incoming Intermediate Level Education students at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Feb. 14. A CGSC graduate himself, Brooks gave students a few tips on leadership -- but also gave them many questions they'll have to consider as Army leaders.
Brooks spoke about being a CGSC student in 1991, when he and his fellow students were frustrated that they "missed" the war. The students at that time were ready to leave Fort Leavenworth and join the fight. But Army leaders decided to keep them in class.
"Wisely, the Army's leadership said, 'No, we need you to study,'" he said.
Instead, CGSC students in the early 1990s learned about the operating environment they were about to enter, Brooks said.
Brooks talked to students about the operating environment they'll be working in, an uncertain one in which the best course of action isn't certain. The Arab Spring has given way to a series of changes, Brooks said. Some are good for its citizens, some are deadly, but some are murky. For example, he said, there's an Iranian TV group that searches for images of U.S. police officers overreacting to the Occupy Wall Street movement, attempting to deflect from their own problems.
As they move back into the operating force, CGSC students will also have to confront the issue of toxic leadership, Brooks said.
"We can't accept abusive, denigrating behavior from anybody, not even the most combat-seasoned veterans," he said.
Maj. Scott Sabota, 2012-02 ILE student, said he served under Brooks in a military transition team in Iraq. He was interested in Brooks' mention of toxic leaders -- and Sabota said Brooks is definitely not one.
"He's a master listener and master mentor because he can think through complex ideas critically, and understand clearly very complex and difficult issues, because he listens," Sabota said.
Finally, Brooks told CGSC students they've already demonstrated excellence in discipline while exiting Iraq. The scenes he saw -- of Soldiers carefully logging equipment and responsibly leaving the country -- were impressive.
"That picture is just an example of how you process," he said. "The discipline was absolutely amazing. It speaks volumes about who it is that you're privileged to lead."