FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.--In preparation for tomorrow's Command and General Staff College graduation, international military students received their International Graduate Badges in a ceremony today at the Lewis and Clark Center. Netherlands Major Rene Berendsen, International Military Student Chief of Staff for the Command and General Staff Officers Course Class 2018, proudly proclaimed that 119 international students started the course last summer and 119 graduated this week.

In addition to awarding the badges, winners of two international awards were announced during the ceremony. MAJ Jason Tinsley of New Zealand will receive the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Award recognizing him as the top international graduate for this year's class. Major Joseph O'Donnell of Canada will receive the Major General Hans Schlup Award recognizing him as the student who best fostered international relationships during the class. The Hans Schlup Award is named in honor of a Swiss general who graduated from the course in 1978.

Brigadier General Scott Efflandt, Provost of the Army University and Deputy Commandant of the Command and General Staff College spoke at the ceremony thanking the students, the sponsors who supported them throughout the year and the spouses. The sponsors, he said, opened their homes and hearts and most importantly opened a bridge to greater understanding between two cultures. The spouses are the rock of all armies, said Efflandt.

A key part of the success of the Command and General College is due to the international students, Efflandt said. "Your participation makes this college better, and makes the other officer students in the college better. You all are an essential part of the magic of the Command and General Staff College," he said.

The badge the international graduates receive is cloaked with much symbolism, said Efflandt. "It is a sign that embodies the finest military qualities, it represents a tradition of excellence that goes back to first staff colleges of Prussia, it represents a tradition that is validated here by our predecessors," he said. "It also comes with a burden that the person who wears this badge is expected to uphold the standards of Command and General Staff College graduates and wear it proudly," said Efflandt.

Berendsen reminded his classmates they will encounter each other again. "Remember this when you need shelter during exercises or deployments, or if you just want to share ideas or feedback or your thoughts. We are each other's force multiplier," said Berendsen. He said the friendships developed at CGSC contribute to an invincible network of professionals that is distributed around the world.

The international students will join their classmates tomorrow when more than 1,100 officers graduate from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer Course at 9 a.m on Fort Leavenworth's Main Parade Field. The graduating class includes mid-career officers from all American military services, the international officers representing 91 countries, and 24 federal government civilian employees.