FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Fort Leavenworth Lamp, June 20, 2013) -- Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal spoke to more than 1,050 graduates of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer Course, here, June 14, challenging them to take on the legacy of their grandfathers and determine now to become the next "greatest generation."
The graduating class included mid-career officers from all American armed forces, as well as 68 international officers and 16 civilians from U.S. government agencies. Graduation was in the Eisenhower Auditorium in the Lewis and Clark Center, and included a celebration of the Army's 238th Birthday.
Westphal began his address saying it was the Army's 238th Birthday -- a new beginning and another day of life. He then quoted the Preamble to the Constitution, and reminded the graduates of the Army's role in history, not only in battle but in leading exploration, building the nation's infrastructure, and leading social change.
"We have taken on the biggest threats our nation has faced," he said. "You (the graduates) are a vital part of the continuing legacy of this great nation's history."
"The challenges you will face and how you respond to them will define not only your lives, but how the world views this continuing experiment that is our democracy," Westphal told the graduates. "Make no mistake, while less of you than previous classes will march off to Afghanistan, the choices we make as we enter a period of strategic transition will challenge our readiness, our Soldiers -- indeed, our very culture."
He reminded the graduates that as they manage the change needed to meet the demands of the 21st Century, they must continue to hold true to Army values, preserve readiness, and maintain trust and confidence with our Soldiers, families, civilians and the American public.
"But trust has to be earned," he said, "and continually earned, not just by a few."
Following his address, Westphal took questions from media. When asked about the importance of leader development he said, "Leader development is how we transition and do well. This Army has readjusted and adapted before, and that's what we're doing now. The Army faces many issues. Our leadership is focused on addressing those problems, eliminating them and moving forward."
Westphal serves as the 30th Under Secretary of the Army, and the Army's first Chief Management Officer. He has had a distinguished career in academia and government. Westphal served as Chancellor of the University of Maine System, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Westphal spent his first 12 years in academia as a professor in the Department of Political Science at Oklahoma State University, later becoming head of the Department. In 2001, he served as the Acting Secretary of the Army and earlier, he served as the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, from 1998 to 2001.
Following the Undersecretary's address, he and Command and General Staff Officer Course, or CGSOC, officials presented awards and diplomas to the graduates. Special Forces Maj. Thomas B. Craig was named the top U.S. graduate and awarded the General George C. Marshall Award. Maj. Andrew Nicklin of the United Kingdom received the General Dwight D. Eisenhower award as the top international student. Megan K. Kraushaar of the Defense Intelligence Agency earned the General Colin Powell Interagency Award. Seventy-nine graduates earned the Master in Military Art and Science Degree, and more than 270 course graduates earned graduate degrees from other institutions while attend CGSOC.
The 10-month Command and General Staff Officers Course is designed to develop war-fighting and adaptive leadership skills necessary for military officers to be proficient in Unified Land Operations.
The 68 international military student graduates, representing 63 countries, received their CGSC International Officer Graduate badges during a ceremony, June 13. The tradition of presenting international military students with a badge began in 1964 in response to interest by international military students who wanted a distinctive emblem to indicate they were graduates of the college. Many other military colleges around the world have such emblems.
International military student participation in cooperative military studies in the United States originated at Fort Leavenworth with the arrival of Swiss Lieutenant Henri LeComte in 1894. Since then, international military students have become an integral part of the "Fort Leavenworth experience." To date, more than 7,600 international officers have studied alongside U.S. military and government civilian counterparts.