Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, along with members of the school's athletic department, paid a visit to U.S. Army Central during the Memorial Day weekend.
Caslen said the visit allows him to engage with graduates, specifically recent graduates, to see first-hand what the West Point program is doing to prepare them for their future as Army leaders. The visit also provides feedback from senior leaders about the type of officers graduating from the academy and how they are performing in the early stages of their careers.
West Point graduates spoke candidly with Caslen and asked his advice at a number of engagements, ranging from physical training to meals. The superintendent shared thoughts on topics ranging from leader development to training.
"First, be a leader of character, because if you are very competent but you fail in character, then you fail in leadership," said Caslen. "So character is the most important aspect of leadership. Get to know your Soldiers, love them, train them, hold them to high standards. They will want to follow you because of your proven ability to lead."
Caslen said leaders need to develop a relationship with the leaders above them because the ability to understand your boss and your higher headquarters is very important.
"Be a developer of future leaders," said Caslen. "Spend time with your junior noncommissioned officers and prepare them to become senior noncommissioned officers. Take time with your lieutenants and help them to be future company commanders. You do that by giving them training opportunities and allowing them to attend professional military education and civilian education."
During a dinner with Caslen, 2nd Lt. Daniel Engstrom, an intelligence officer, with 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, said the best training he had for his current job as a military intelligence officer was participating in summer internships.
"I had the opportunity to work with the National Security Agency as well as a couple of military intelligence units stationed in Maryland," said Engstrom. "I also had the opportunity to work with Army cyber units, which prepared me for a future in the cyber branch if I choose once I make captain."
Eugene Corrigan, Athletic Director, at West Point, said, the honor of graduating from West Point has historical meaning.
"I think it's a sense of accomplishment that I've made it," said Corrigan. "It's not an easy place, you're a part of the West Point tradition, a part of the long-gray line of graduate who have gone before you."