FORT BENNING, Ga. (Sept. 4, 2013) -- Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning commanding general, Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, was one of several featured speakers during second day of the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, held Aug. 26-27 at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.

As America prepares for the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, McMaster addressed the importance of the Army's mission to develop confident and resilient Soldiers in present and future warfare environments.

"Our mission is to prepare our Soldiers to fight and win under any conditions," he said. "And since Soldiers will follow a good leader anywhere, under any conditions of battle, the development of effective leaders is our top priority across the Army and is our top priority at Fort Benning."

The Blanchard Leadership Forum is presented by Columbus State University's Leadership Institute in an effort to continue development and enhancement of the skills of today's and future leaders, while engaging them in challenging, interactive workshops critical to their organization's future.

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, were also headliners for CSU's eighth annual event. Second day speakers included author and marketing provocateur Seth Godin, Christ Fellowship Church Pastor Tom Mullins, Yum! Brands Chairman and CEO David C. Novak, AT&T Group President and Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey and Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally.

In line with the forum's theme, "Leadership in the New Normal," McMaster said the ability to handle complex environments is key to the development of military forces as well as everyday corporations and communities.

"Our Army has had to adapt to a large number of unforeseen challenges and conditions during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "I think what we learn in this 'new normal' is that we have to balance continuity and change."

McMaster outlined four vital leadership lessons that the MCoE has emphasized to ensure success in contested and complex environments -- developing an accurate understanding of the environments in which leaders must operate, emphasizing adaptability, building confident and resilient teams, and cultivating empathy between leaders and their Soldiers as well as with populations among whom wars are fought.

McMaster also emphasized the importance of the role of effective leadership in overcoming the psychological effects of combat and fear, which he said "is the most debilitating thing that can happen to a unit."

In his closing remarks, McMaster stated that the war in Afghanistan is the most underreported war in history, which leaves Americans unaware of the nation's enemies and the stakes involved in fighting against them. He said today's Army is composed of warriors and humanitarians who take difficult risks to identify the enemy and protect innocent lives.
"Every day, Soldiers and units are taking additional risks and making sacrifices to protect innocents," he said.

"They are operating in an incredibly disciplined manner and demonstrate tremendous empathy toward the population."