FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (June 18, 2009) - Melissa Bower More than 900 graduating students filled the Lewis and Clark Center's Eisenhower Auditorium, June 12.
The largest-ever Command and General Staff College's Intermediate Level Education class also marked several firsts for the college.
The 2009-01 class included warrant officers for the first time. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Timothy Feathers, Chief Warrant Officers 4 Percy Alexander, Nathaniel Jones and Richard Myers, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Robert W. Russell attended the Army's 10-month ILE course. This year, for the first time, warrant officers have been represented both in the class and on the faculty at CGSC. Chief Warrant Officers 4 Ronnie Patrick, Darren Lester, Brian Edwards and Anthony Williams are currently assigned to the college's Department of Logistics and Resource Operations.
"This is a very proud moment for the college," said Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, CGSC commandant. "Warrant officers are a valued part of the total Army team and these outstanding Soldiers provided another rich perspective of learning. Just as we have embraced our international and interagency partners in the course, today we recognize the importance of our senior technical officers, who are leaders in their career fields."
Class 2009-01's 960 students featured 65 international officers from 62 countries, including the first international student to represent Montenegro, Maj. Ilija Dakovic, bringing the number of countries that have sent officers to CGSC to 155. The class also included Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro of the Philippines, recipient of the Medal of Valor - the equivalent to the U.S. Medal of Honor - earned for his actions against a communist separatist group in the 1990s.
Carlos Pascual, director of Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institute, delivered the graduation address. Pascual is former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and has been nominated by President Barack Obama as the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
"I wanted to come here because I believe this is an institution dedicated to building peace," he told students. "...We live in a world where protecting our nation cannot be separated from engaging in a global community."
Pascual said that today's growing threat comes from parts of the world on the margins of the global economy - those poor, uneducated and cut off from information. Globalization has helped many parts of the world but without proper governing, it fails.
"The very interconnectivity that increasingly binds the world together has empowered those who would tear the world down," he said.
Security also is an important foundation in developing countries, Pascual said.
"What we've learned ... if there isn't a security presence in a country, that it's not possible to get traction on all the other positive things that need to occur in order to help people buy into their state," he said. "In the end, the fundamental thing that one has to do is help people buy into the state that they are trying to build."
Maj. Brian M. Ducote received the Gen. George C. Marshall Award as the top U.S. graduate. Ducote said it was an honor to be chosen out of the largest-ever class. He said he appreciated hearing from Pascual.
"Hearing him speak was awesome - a senior level servant in complete congruence to what we're learning here - (he) lets us know it's coming from the top."
Earlier in the year, Ducote brought a friend and former Iraqi major to speak to his staff group about life in Iraq. His friend, now living in the United States, was formerly a member of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard, but later chose to help the U.S. military train new Iraqi police and military.
Ducote comes from a family of nine children, and three of his brothers have served in the military. Ducote will attend the School of Advanced Military Studies in the fall.
The Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower Award was awarded to Maj. Luis Cepeda of the Spanish army. Cepeda will be the first Spanish student to enter SAMS. He said CGSC was an outstanding academic environment that allowed him to share his experiences, "not only because of the insight that you are able to gain from the U.S. Army, but also from the rest of the international students," he said.
Although students from other U.S. government agencies have attended CGSC in the past, this year their ranks were increased to six. CGSC plans to continue increasing the number of interagency students. Kenneth C. Ferris of the National Geospacial Intelligence Agency was presented the first Outstanding Interagency Student award for CGSC-ILE.
Maj. Tony Jones, CGSC student, said he hoped joint education with interagency partners would continue.
"As majors starting to work on higher level staff, we need personal connections to help facilitate our missions," he said.
The 2009-01 class was also the first to complete four strategic engagement requirements to share their military experiences with the public. The requirements included blogging, doing a media interview, a public speaking engagement and writing an article. Students have been involved in active discussions on the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center blog, as well as formulating their own social media experiments throughout the academic year.
The first six students graduated from a new University of Kansas/CGSC master's program in supply chain management. Master of Military Art and Science degrees were earned by 83 members of the class.