West Point hosts Mission Command conference
April 30, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (April 30, 2012) -- Soon-to-be-commissioned cadets from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs from various universities across the country attended the Mission Command Conference XV held at West Point, April 23-26.
The conference is an annual event organized by the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic as a capstone experience in a cadet's military ethic education, and focuses on mission command in the modern day.
The four-day conference featured what could be the most combat wisdom ever assembled in the event's history, said retired Gen. Frederick M. Franks, chair of SCPME.
The assembled combat wisdom is the result of the experiences of more than 100 officers and noncommissioned officers from a variety of recently redeployed units. The soldiers served as mentors to the cadets during the conference.
And among those leaders was the event's keynote speaker: Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, the commanding general of U.S. Army North and senior commander of Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. Caldwell told the cadets that it is teamwork that will help ensure the success of their units in accomplishing their missions.
"Concern yourself not with being a great leader -- but in making great leaders," advised Caldwell. "It is all about the team. Don't focus on what will make you advance but rather what will make the team advance."
The purpose of bringing in mentors was to introduce cadets to leaders who had been there -- downrange.
"The military relies on mentors more than any other profession," said Franks. "All (military) leaders are grown. We don't hire them."
One of those mentors, Sgt 1st Class Richard Bolger, a platoon sergeant with the 17th Fires Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., advised the cadets to develop a good line of communication with their platoon sergeant and to always ask questions.
Bolger used an example of a new lieutenant in his company who asked questions and sought training out to the point that the lieutenant was on the verge of becoming an annoyance. Contrary to popular belief, however, Bolger said this is the sort of activity he wants in new leaders.
The West Point class of 2012 will begin their careers as military leaders when they are commissioned May 26.