By Harry SarlesOctober 4, 2018
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.--The Command and General Staff College added two international military leaders to its International Hall of Fame on Oct. 4 at the Lewis and Clark Center here. The induction results in 278 leaders honored in the Hall of Fame from the more than 8,000 international officers who have graduated from the college. It also raises the number of countries represented in the Hall of Fame to 75.
Officers honored were Maj. Gen. Saleh al Ameri, commander of United Arab Emirates Land Forces, and Lt. Gen. Leonids Kalnins, chief of defense of Latvian National Armed Forces. Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth and commandant of CGSC said he was proud to recognize two warriors who epitomize the profession of arms.
"This is a small and distinguished group. It speaks to their professionalism, their commitment, their character, and their ability to lead Soldiers," Lundy said.
Saleh was the first to be honored. He noted the college's long standing unofficial motto "the best year of your life."
"2006 was the best year of my life from the military education aspect," he said. "Because I spent the entire year with the people who write doctrine, who create leader development strategy, who envision mission command strategy, and who bring to life operational art and military history."
Saleh said he also experienced that best year of his life from a civilian education aspect, earning a master's degree from Central Michigan University; from a social aspect, spending much time with his family; and from a friendship aspect, making lifelong friends.
After several operational experiences with the U.S. Army in Desert Storm, Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, UAE Land Forces started a major transformation in 2012 based on the Joint Capabilities, Integration and Development System. The intent, he said, was to ground military operations in the six warfighting functions: mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, and protection.
The relationship with the U.S. was reinforced again in 2016 with the establishment of Army-to-Army talks between the two countries. "Ever since, engagement with the U.S. Army has dramatically increased," he said.
According to Saleh, the UAE is conducting successful operations in Yemen as part of an international task force under authority of UN resolution and invitation from the government of Yemen to restore security to Yemen and the region. "Over 87 percent of Yemen is liberated from the control of the Houthi militia, one of the Iranian forces in the region," he said. In addition to the military effort, the UAE has provided over $4 billion in humanitarian aid and reconstruction in Yemen, he said.
"We appreciate the role of the USA to provide security and stability around the world, and the support of the USA to its allies," Saleh said. "In the last 40 years, we were present in the six military coalitions that have been led by the USA. And today, we are combined with partners, shoulder to shoulder, for peace against aggression, for permanence against division, for education against ignorance, and for development against corruption and poverty."
Saleh is the first International Hall of Fame member from Command and General Staff Officers Class 2006-2. He is also the first from that class known to be promoted to general officer rank. There were 26 international students in his class. He was appointed to his current position in 2016.
Kalnins was unable to attend the induction ceremony. In his place, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brooks Lyles delivered Kalnins's acceptance remarks. Lyles was Kalnins military sponsor at Fort Leavenworth. Kalnins said he was honored to be inducted but also realized that honor comes with responsibility.
"I strongly believe that the international environment and the community of the college is one of the great cultural building programs demonstrating strong interoperability and bonds between the defense sectors of our countries, not only from the perspective of procedures and powerful weapons, but also because of the opportunity it provides for officers from all around the world to get to know each other better and to work effectively together," Kalnins said.
Kalnins also recognized the U.S.-Latvia cooperation in Operation Atlantic Resolve and the partnership between the armed forces of Latvia and the Michigan National Guard. "Freedom cannot be taken for granted," he said. This year Latvia celebrates in centennial as an independent state and next year with be the 100th anniversary of the Latvian armed forces. He also noted that for the first time in its history, Latvia has increased defense spending in line with NATO guidelines.
He was appointed chief of the Defense Staff, Latvian National Armed Forces, in January 2017. He graduated from CGSC in 2011. Of the 69 international officers in that class, Kalnins is the first known to have attained general officer rank and the first to be inducted in the International Hall of Fame.
The CGSC International Hall of Fame was established by the college, the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars and the CGSC Foundation in 1973. To be nominated for the International Hall of Fame an officer must be a graduate of CGSC and have attained, by merit, the position of leader of his or her country's army or defense forces. In addition to being inducted into the Hall of Fame, inductees are presented a CGSC certificate of honor by the Military Order of the World Wars and a Life Constituent Certificate by the Foundation. Fifteen International Hall of Fame members have taken responsibility as heads of state or heads of government in their countries.
International military student participation in cooperative military studies in the U.S. originated at Fort Leavenworth with the arrival of Swiss Lieutenant Henri Le Comte in 1894. Since then, international students, representing 165 countries, have become an integral part of the Fort Leavenworth experience. These talented military officers contribute to a rich professional and cultural exchange environment.