Today, the U.S. Army War College celebrated the graduation of the Distance Education Class of 2014. Students, faculty, leaders, family and colleagues gathered on the historic parade ground where students from most of the Army schools have walked -- from the Artillery Artificers School of 1780 and the Cavalry School of 1838 to the post-World War I Medical Field Service School and the post-World War II origins of the Army schools for Civil Affairs, Adjutant General, Chaplain, Military Police and Military Intelligence.
The graduates of the Distance Education Class of 2014 join the ranks of great American leaders and Army War College graduates such as Eisenhower, Bradley and Schwarzkopf. This year's class included 368 students who represent a broad spectrum of backgrounds and experiences in service to their nation. Among the student body were 40 US Army officers, 155 US Army Reserve officers, 149 Army National Guard officers, two US Marine Corps officers, two US Air Force officers, five officers of the Department of State, three interagency civilians, and six International Fellows. All have completed the demanding course comprising two years of distance instruction and four weeks of resident instruction at Carlisle. The Class of 2014 has achieved the highest goals of professional military education, each student demonstrating a high degree of dedication and perseverance.
"If you look at the world today, it has never been more important to have strong strategic leaders," said Class of 2014 graduate Col. Gregory Hapgood, who believed that it was his responsibility to take the initiative to use any tool from the Army War College experience to better prepare for the future. "This achievement belongs as much to my family and many peers as it does to me," added the Iowa Army National Guard officer.
Supportive families filled the audience, with military colleagues and dozens of general officers on hand to congratulate them on the hard-won achievement.
"It's all on their own time: it's God-and-Country time," said Brig. Gen. Cynthia O'Connell, Deputy Commanding General of the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), about the students' obligation to carve reading, study, and writing time from personal time.
"Reserve officers especially have to balance their civilian careers at tremendous cost," said O'Connell. "We have [healthcare] professionals, physicians, dentists who take time away from their practice, time away from their military duties, and time away from their family.
"I'm in awe, actually," she said of the graduates' commitment to what she described as a rigorous course.
Guest speaker calls for innovative leaders, critical thinkers
Commencement speaker Maj. Gen. Timothy J. Kadavy, Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau, shared insights with the class about the challenges that await, and the agility and adaptability needed in senior officers whose next six to nine years will be marked by the dual demands of national fiscal restraints and complexity in the global security environment.
He drew on his experience as commander of the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force -- Afghanistan to offer perspective about the complexity of today's environment -- working with other nations and with nonmilitary organizations whose objectives and processes differ from the military's and whose actions will affect the military operation.
"As the CJITF commander in Afghanistan … my portfolio included counter-narcotics, counter-corruption, counter-threat financing, "no contracting with the enemy," and counter--transnational organized crime …. Those are not traditionally threats and missions associated with warfighting but they are impediments to a successful campaign. They all needed to be mitigated for the betterment of our ability to train, advise and assist and, ultimately, to conduct and conclude a successful campaign in transition to an Afghan lead.
Roles like these and others in an interagency team may require graduates to work not as a commander but as a director, he said. "For most of you this may mean adapting your leadership style to successfully lead a diverse team.
"Think of this as adding more tools to your tool chest," said Kadavy, who also noted: "You must be able to lead a diverse team. Successful strategic leaders of the future must be agile, flexible, and adaptable and unafraid of unknown challenges ahead."
"We as a nation need to use all of the aspect of the DIME," he said, referring to the Army War College lessons about incorporating diplomacy, information and economic solutions as well as military power.
Faculty guidance is key to students' effectiveness in navigating the two-years of study. They offer effective course design and instruction, feedback and mentorship through remote relationships and resident experiences at Carlisle. The faculty shape the seminar so as to engender critical thinking, creative problem-solving and enduring relationships.
Three faculty members were singled out for honors at the graduation ceremony. In the first year of the Army War College's Faculty Excellence Awards program, these Distance Education instructors received the USAWC Excellence-in-Teaching Award: retired Col. Jim Holcomb for 1st Resident Course instruction; Col. North Charles for 2nd Resident Course; and retired Col. Rob Smith, for excellence in elective teaching. The selection committee considered student feedback, peer feedback and personal observations by the department chair.
Five Distance Education students were honored with writing awards.
• Col. Kevin R. Kick for his paper, "Operation Centennial Raging Waters: DoD Response to the Colorado Floods"
• Col. Gregory E. Maggs for his paper, "Cyber Attack: A Declared U.S. Cyber Defense Policy"
• Lt. Col. Mark A. Stiefbold for his paper, "Water Scarcity as a Domestic Stability Issue"
• Col. Michael C. Griffin for his paper, "Rethinking Victory in Counterinsurgency"
• Lt. Col. Dennis Humphrey for his paper, "The Information Element of Power/Human Domain Nexus"