FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.--The U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies graduated 158 officers from two courses on May 24 in the Eisenhower Auditorium of the Lewis and Clark Center. The graduates include 14 international officers from 10 countries and seven federal civilian employees representing four federal agencies.

Speaking at the program, Maj. Gen. James F. Pasquarette, Commander of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) at Camp Zama, Japan, told graduates they had made a great choice to pursue the 1-year program at SAMS. The 1996 graduate of the program said he likes the changes that have taken place at SAMS since he was a student. He said the addition of international officers, interagency civilians, and sister service officers has made the SAMS experience much richer.

Pasquarette offered a few thoughts for the graduates. The expectation of senior leaders is that SAMS graduates can immediately function as the leader of the plans team, your first function is to plan to plan, he said. He also encouraged them to not be just a big idea person but to get into the details. "Never get emotionally tied to your work," he said. "Another good tip is to learn how to listen."

He warned the graduates they will be judged by their ability to brief and to write clearly and concisely. Both areas are difficult to master, he said, "but for the SAMS graduate, it's expected." Pasquarette also challenged the students to use doctrinally correct language, graphics, and models.

Finally, he said, "don't confuse your access and frequency of interaction with senior leaders with your value, your intelligence, or your ability. Use it to learn how senior leaders see the problem." He concluded, "Most importantly remember that whatever the Army asks of you in your next assignment, it's not more important than what your family deserves from you."

Most of the graduates completed the Advanced Military Studies Program. This 10-month course is a graduate level education program to develop innovative and adaptive leaders who excel at operational art and are willing to experiment and accept risk. Program graduates apply critical and creative thinking to solve complex problems, demonstrate mastery of joint and Army doctrine, and anticipate the future operational environment. They synthesize the elements of U.S. national power in joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations, and demonstrate effective communications.

Seventeen graduates completed the Advanced Strategic Leader Studies Program. This Senior Service College program, equivalent to the Army War College, focuses on planning and executing the full spectrum of unified land operations with government and nongovernmental agencies and international partners. Its students comprise senior lieutenant colonels, colonels, and their civilian equivalents. Military class members have typically commanded a battalion-sized unit in the armed services.

Major Gary Klein received the Col. Thomas Felts Leadership Award, considered the top award for SAMS graduates. Klein said he was humbled to be selected for the award. "This award was looking at leadership among peers. I'm honored because I have an outstanding group of peers," he said. Felts was a SAMS graduate who volunteered for a mission in Iraq in 2006 and was killed in action there. Sponsored by the Command and General Staff College Foundation, the award is presented to the student who best exemplifies all the desired attributes of an Advanced Military Studies Program graduate.

Other award recipients include Maj. Jason Kowrach, Iron Planner award for best physical fitness; Gary Mills, U.S. Army North, Arthur D. Simons Center for Interagency Cooperation Writing Award; Maj. Carl Miller, best monograph for the Advanced Military Studies Program; and Lt. Col. (USMC) Charles C. Readinger, best monograph for the Advanced Strategic Leader Studies Program. A total of 71 students received the Iron Leader award recognizing outstanding physical fitness and academic accomplishment.

Mills said "I'm certainly a more holistic thinker [after completing SAMS], not a black or white thinker." Miller added the SAMS experience taught him, "the power of dialogue, we do a lot of readings on our own and you have your own takeaway from those readings, but then when you go to class and you get to hear everyone else's perspective, if they hang their ideas out there, it makes the readings even more powerful. You get to see new sides of something you've read but maybe didn't understand all the way before."

Graduates of Advanced Military Studies Program receive the Master of Arts in Military Operations and graduates of Advanced Strategic Leader Studies Program receive the Master of Arts in Strategic Studies. The degrees are awarded by the Command and General Staff College based on students successfully completing the School of Advanced Military Studies curriculum, passing an oral comprehensive exam, and successfully completing an extensive monograph based on original research. Completed monographs are published electronically by the Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library. CGSC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pasquarette is a 1983 graduate of Furman University and was commissioned as an armor officer. He formerly served as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific Command, Hawaii, and Deputy Commanding General, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson Colorado. He earned a Master's Degree in Military Arts and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) in 1996, and earned a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard, and a Master's of Arts in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. His operational deployments include Deputy Commanding General (Support) 4th Infantry Division in Iraq 2010-2011, Commander 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in Iraq 2006, and Operations Officer, 3rd Battalion 69th Armor, 3rd Infantry Division in Kuwait, 1998.