By robert D. MartinJune 7, 2019
CARLISLE, Pa. (June 7, 2019) Speaking to the graduating students, recent Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert compared the future challenge of the U.S. Army War College Class of 2019 to the challenge faced 75 years ago by the D-Day planners.
Commandant Maj. Gen. John Kem acknowledged the rigor and scope of their 10-month master's-level studies, as he spoke to the hundreds of families, friends and senior leaders who traveled from across the nation and the world to support the graduates.
"Last August, I welcomed you to the Army War College and challenged you to develop and grow this year," said Kem. "To look inward, find areas where you wanted to double down on existing skill or to develop new skills and attributes. To prepare for your role as strategic leaders, advisors and as stewards of our profession."
"I thank you for doing that this year, for embracing that development and growth over the past ten months," he said.
Graduation speaker Cathy Engelbert, who retired as the CEO of Deloitte this week, drew on her experience leading one of the largest professional services organizations in the United States with more than 100,000 professionals. [She will next apply her leadership as the first commissioner of the Women's National Basketball Association, in July.]
Acknowledging that D-Day planners faced great uncertainty after a full year of planning, she offered three implications for the uncertainty accompanying today's massive disruption and pace of change that affects business and military leaders alike.
"In some ways, no one knows this better than you. You have been dealing with irregular and asymmetrical warfare, emerging threats, and advanced technologies for decades."
"There are three important implications of being at the precipice of the fourth industrial revolution… Balance short term vs. long term interests; never lose sight of the human context; and have an unending focus, as you lead, on purpose and core values," she said.
"At Deloitte, I was privileged to lead more than 100,000 employees in the U.S. -- 75 percent millennial. They care about purpose. Because despite our differences, people tend to unite around purpose -- in means that purpose-driven leaders and organizations have a special power to tap into today."
"But purpose requires vision. It requires knowing your core values. So the question for every leader is, what will we stand for as the world changes exponentially? I love the saying, 'if you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moments.'
"I would add that if you want to do that, you have to know who you are and what you stand for, well beforehand," said Englebert.
The 380 graduates have completed a 10-month Army War College resident education program. They can earn the Master's degree in Strategic Studies and are granted Joint Professional Military Education-Level II (JMPE-II) credit.
The class includes 76 International Fellows from allied and partner nations who study and collaborate alongside U.S. military officers in the U.S. Army War College. The International Fellows enhance U.S. students' awareness of regional geography, history, culture and trends that are relevant to effective security arrangements.
"I believe that I am now better equipped to ask the right questions," said Col. Anup Thapa of the Nepalese Army. "I am more prepared today to bring that to bear on the wicked problems that confront us jointly. I appreciate the AWC for helping me develop towards that point."
"I came here with some understanding of my responsibilities as a warrior and patriot, and leave here determined to serve my country and humanity as a constructive and positive steward of the profession of arms."
"The unofficial motto of the course is 'best year of your life.' I have to say I agree, although in the middle of January, it didn't quite feel like that. However, one thing's for sure--it is definitely the best year of your spouse's life! We came alone, but now leave with friends from 73 countries," said Thapa.
The officer from the Rwandan Army gave his thoughts on his year.
"The year has been a transitional period for me to move from tactical to strategic way of thinking and perspective," said Col. Moses Kayigamba. "But, more importantly, understanding the American holistic strategic formulation framework that can be adapted is an exciting gain in my future position."
"The class 2019 has been characterized by people of diverse knowledge, culture and profession. This diversity blended to make robust teams of seminars that practically demonstrated the ideal need for interagency and multi-domain unity of effort in the real world of work. It has not only helped to improve my ability to accommodate different perspectives informed by people's respective affiliations and cultures, but also to understand mutual benefit between different entities. This benefit could be extrapolated to national and international levels," said Kayigamba.
In the past year, the class of 2019 included social, athletic, and other activities designed to build relationships outside of the classroom, from 'boatyard wars' and family picnics to softball, a chili cook-off, and the 'know your world' international culture forum. Academic pursuits ranged from leadership engagements in New York City and Washington, D.C. to oral comprehensive exams and individual strategic research projects. Collectively, the span of professional and personal development options are known as the Carlisle Experience.
"I joke that I majored in the Carlisle Experience," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Diederich. "The education here at the War College is fantastic, but it's all the other things around Carlisle Barracks and Carlisle … discussions after class … discussions at the Army Heritage and Education Center. Those are the things that really round out an experience here at Carlisle. It's all of the relationships that you get working in a joint and multinational environment like this.
"The Army is a very people-focused organization, and it's very obvious that's one of the lessons to come out of here." said Diederich.
"It has been such an experience that I've never had in my life -- to be with so many of my peers and have both my work and my family come together," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Howard Matthews. "I love the Army … working with so many organizations and multinational and coalition teams … here you've got that really fantastic mix."
Engelbert said, "Great military leaders have walked through the halls since the Army War College's founding in 1903, including names like Pershing and Eisenhower.
"Today, we add your name to that notable roster of leaders. To each of, congratulations."