WEST POINT, N.Y. (Mar. 21, 2016) - The U.S. Military Academy at West Point hosted the Mission Command Conference Feb. 24-25.

First class Cadets (seniors) were given the opportunity to learn from numerous company grade officers about their individual experiences in the Army as well as their personal roles and responsibilities.

Approximately 80 members of the active force from four different divisions formed the backbone of the conference. Other participants included 80 Cadets from U.S. Army Cadet Command (ROTC) and 20 Midshipmen who are entering the U.S. Marine Corps.
During the Thursday morning panels at Eisenhower Hall, Cadets traveled to each room to learn about Mission Command in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe and Kuwait.

Officers of different ranks, from first lieutenants to lieutenant colonels, spoke about their individual roles in Mission Command.

One officer made a comparison between deployment and the Super Bowl, saying that each are feats that require ample preparation and training, as well as teamwork throughout the whole process.

"It's an interesting experience. We kind of get mission command from a lot of different points of view and how each unit interprets it," Class of 2016 Cadet Jordan Loboda said of the conference. "It varies pretty widely and so far it's been interesting to get different perspectives from the battalions and then the company commanders and lieutenants themselves."

Readiness on the battlefield and leadership roles were common themes throughout the day.

Lt. Col. Kevin Jackson of the 10th Mountain Division emphasized the importance of maintaining integrity no matter the circumstances.
"It's easy to be a leader of character on a good day, but what is important are the decisions you make on a bad day," Jackson said.

Cadets took the advice to heart. "Everything won't go as planned," Class of 2016 Cadet Dartie Gilet remarked. "The biggest thing is just being positive because if you're not positive then it will not only reflect the mission, but your platoon as well."

Upon graduation, Cadets will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army and may be leading Soldiers into battle.

"I think it's good to understand the mindset," Class of 2016 Cadet Genna Gibbons said. "They've been taking mission command and breaking it down to very specific contexts within operations that they've done. I think definitely having the platoon leaders here has been beneficial because you get the company commanders' broad scope of it and then applicable to how it works for lieutenants."

Hearing firsthand experiences and stories from lieutenants, a rank they will soon hold, allows Cadets to wrap their heads around their future duties.

"The main thing that they've been talking about is what things lieutenants struggle with in exercising mission command when they first show up and then what they're good at," Class of 2016 Cadet Matthew Martino said. "Also, just advice for lieutenants too."

"I think it's good to just take a day to focus on this instead of like 50 minutes after lunch, I think a whole day thing to really dig deep into everything is good," Martino added.