By Alex Mclaughlin, U.S. Army Cadet Command Public AffairsJuly 11, 2014
FORT KNOX, Ken. (July 11, 2014) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno spoke for more than an hour to Army ROTC Leadership Development Assessment Course Cadets here, Thursday, with a valuable message to help them in their journey as Army officers.
He took time with Cadets to share the wealth of experience he has gained during a 38-year career that has seen him hold many leadership positions.
Covering a wide range of topics, Odierno touched on conflicts across the world and he addressed the dynamics of constantly changing technology and cultures. His main focus, however, was the magnitude of the effect the future officers will have in the Army.
"The world around us is becoming more complex," Odierno said. "It will be much more difficult for you than it was for me when I was your age. The ability to move information is making people more aware. The ability to disseminate technology is increasing around the world."
"Although the world continues to evolve there is one thing where we maintain a distinct advantage, our leaders," Odierno said. "We have by far the best leaders in the world. We have the best educated and the best trained leaders. We empower our leaders to do their job. We invest in our leaders."
Odierno's words were meant to inspire the Leadership Development Assessment Course, known as LDAC, Cadets. However, he gave a stern warning against potential pitfalls that Cadets might experience during their time in the Army.
"You've got to learn from your mistakes," Odierno said. "Don't be a complacent leader. One pitfall I've seen in leaders is they look for instant gratification. You've got to do what is best for all your Soldiers in the long term. Do the tough right, and not the easy wrong. That is what makes a good leader."
Odierno said Cadets should not underestimate the importance of their training at LDAC, and he stressed competence, commitment and character as key components of officership. "I can promise you that, early in your career, your character will be tested," he said.
After Odierno's talk, he opened the floor for LDAC Cadets for questions. Many Cadets asked about important issues in the Army. Rumors of downsizing, developing conflicts overseas and the LDAC Cadets' personal well-being in the future were all addressed.
Odierno reassured LDAC Cadets they will be more relevant to the success of the Army than they may yet realize.
"Every single day something new is going on in the world that is potentially challenging stability," Odierno said. "Your job in a few years will be to be a part of an institution that is responsible for defending this country. You are going to swear to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic and that is a big responsibility."
(Editor's note: Alex Mclaughlin is a summer intern supporting the Cadet Summer Training Public Affairs Office at U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky.)