By Ms. Rikeshia Davidson (AMC)September 19, 2016
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- "Cadets need to know that they are the Army of the future and that they can be anything (they want to be) … to include taking my job."
So says Lieutenant Colonel Willette Alston-Williams.
As the professor of military science, Alston-Williams believes in the Golden Lion ROTC cadre at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and she's not afraid to passionately motivate the cadets there.
But as expected, the Golden Lion cadre work, learn, and train alongside Alston-Williams and sometimes the cadets need a little more motivation.
Brigadier General Richard B. Dix and Brigadier General Charles R. Hamilton did just that 6 September during an officer development panel at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
Despite managing budgets worth a combined $15.7 billion, Dix and Hamilton seldom miss an opportunity to mentor cadets.
In their distinct roles, both Dix and Hamilton provide direct support to the Services delivering necessities to servicemembers wherever they may be located.
Brig. Gen. Richard B. Dix commands the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) and the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Command integrating life cycle management to provide ready, reliable, and lethal munitions at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.
As commander of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Brig. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton provides $13 billion worth of food clothing and textiles, construction and engineering equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment for America's warfighters and other worldwide customers as commanding general.
Following a visit to nearby Pine Bluff Arsenal, a subordinate installation of JMC, Dix and Hamilton led an officer development panel with the UAPB cadets offering a glimpse into today's Army.
"It was an awesome event. To have both generals come at one time: it was phenomenal. Cadets don't generally see general officers unless they're attending advanced training," said Alston-Williams.
General officers are like stars to the cadre and their time and advice were unmatched for the UAPB students who may one day assume their own commands. But the aides-de-camp to Dix (1st Lieutenant Amanda M. Harrison) and Hamilton (1st Lieutenant Anthony W. Williams) also played important roles in explaining the realities of Army service.
"The best thing about the officer development event was the aides-de-camp speaking to the cadets and sharing their experiences. They talked to the cadets in a way that was relatable. The cadets and aides-de-camp have about 3 to 4 years in age difference and they (the aides-de-camp) are sitting where the cadets could be in a few years.
"The lieutenants shared the 'dos and don'ts' of being a (young) lieutenant because what you do follows you. And to hear sage advice from two first lieutenants who work for one star generals was invaluable - it reemphasized what we tell the cadets daily," said Alston-Williams.
Harrison didn't shy away from the hard topics. "We talked about mistakes," she said. "We explained the importance of relying on non-commissioned officers when entering a new unit and the importance of first impressions."
Harrison's own philosophy for making great first impressions includes setting a standard.
"I set the standard for personal excellence and not just because I'm a woman," she said.
Harrison's standard includes an emphasis on physical fitness - specifically running - and taking charge of your career.
Considering a unit may be dominated by men, Harrison said, "I wanted to be able to run like anyone else in the unit."
She also stressed guiding your own career because no one can articulate your aspirations better than you.
"Make sure you're on top of your career. Stand up and take charge of where you want to go. You may not get it, but at least you know what you want."
Most importantly, Harrison reminded cadets to give themselves room to grow as a leader.
"Be willing to take charge when in charge (and remember to) be yourself -- change doesn't come overnight," she said.
For Williams, his most important advice tackled differences and bridging the gap.
"It doesn't matter what school you came from or what culture you represent. Don't be afraid to converse with someone who doesn't look like you. There is a good chance that you guys have common ground and similar interest. You just have to find it," he said.
For cadets interested in the Army Reserves or National Guard, Kara Stetson, JMC installation advocate, addressed the role of USAJobs and the importance of resume building. She also noted the differing appointment types for jobs exclusively for members of the Army Reserves or National Guard.
With so much advice, care, and concern for the future of the Army, Alston-Williams is ready to roll out the welcome mat to more general officers visiting UAPB.
"It would be nice to have other one star generals and their aides come to speak. We are a Historically Black College and the diversity aspect of the visit was great. I tell the cadets, 'you can be anything you want to be in the Army or anywhere'. To see two African-American one star generals was awesome for the cadets.
"I hope we have more General Officers visit."
Brig. Gen. Richard B. Dix is a graduate of South Carolina State University.
Brig. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton is a graduate of Virginia State University.