Carlisle Barracks, Pa. -- This year was unlike any other, everywhere. The student body here was competitively selected from among the highest achievers in the nation’s military Services, as is true every year. But the Army War College Class of 2021 was extraordinary in spirit, mental agility, discipline, collaboration and problem-solving as they prepared for future responsibilities that will demand those attributes.
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James C. McConville joined family, faculty and friends at Carlisle Barracks, Jun 11, to honor 360 graduates who completed Joint Professional Military Education - II, while earning a master’s degree in Strategic Studies. The joint, interagency and multinational student body included active, Guard and Reserve officers of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and 64 allied and partner nations’ armed forces, studying alongside senior civilians of government agencies.
“Your success in your next jobs is going to be critical for the nation,” said McConville to the graduating class.
In the summer of 2001, when he started his War College fellowship, no one could have imagined the events of 9/11/2001 and the military implications for the next 20 years, said McConville. As we again face an unknown future, their responsibility as strategic leaders will be to lead through major transformations to maintain overmatch in this time of great power competition, he said.
“We are at an inflection point in our country, in our world … in an era of Great Power Competition.” But, Great Power Competition need not become Great Power Conflict, he said. “The way we deter great power conflict is a strategy of peace through strength. That strength comes from a whole-of-government approach, supported by a strong military, a strong Army, and strong allies and partners.
“This is why our Army is undergoing the most consequential transformation in 40 years,” he said.
“You will be moving into key leadership positions with a responsibility not only to transform your organizations but to maintain a high state of readiness so you're ready to fight tonight ... and you'll be doing this while this invisible threat of COVID continues to challenge our country and the world," said McConville.
Keep in mind two things, he urged – a People First philosophy and Winning Matters mindset. People are the greatest weapon system, he noted, as he charged the graduates to define winning for their organization, create trust and cohesion within their organizations, and build winning teams.
“I am confident in each and every one of you that you'll lead your organizations through these challenges ahead," said the Chief to the nation's next generation of strategic leaders.
The Army Chief’s comments about the power of relationships among the graduates and within their organizations were foreshadowed by two leaders of the Class of 2021. Asked about the Army War College influences that are likely to endure, each highlighted a similar theme.
“This year was challenging to say the least. However, the amount of professional growth, intellectual stimulation that stretched the boundaries of my comfort zone, and the personal and professional relationships are something I will cherish,” said Class President Army Col. Shari Bennett. “Relationships matter and I hope to continue to build upon the relationships I developed here at the Army War College with students and the amazing faculty team.”
“The Army War College not only creates the conditions but encourages the development of these relationships, said Bulgarian Lt. Col. Ivaylo Ivanov, Class Vice President. “These relationships are an important element of effective scholarly work … even more important for us to maintain and extend those relationships and us them in our future assignments.”
“You have been thoroughly tested and have earned your new designation as a graduate of the United States Army War College,” said acting Commandant Maj. Gen. David C. Hill to the graduates.
“We are proud of you – and we are excited to see you how you will flourish in your future responsibilities,” he said. “You leave here with our faith in you and our prayers for you.
Army Chaplain (Col.) Edward ‘Herb’ Franklin had the last words of the ceremony, offering inspiration for the graduates’ competence, confidence, and the grace to lead with integrity.
The United States Army War College curriculum aligns with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction for Officer Professional Military Education, Army leader development guidance. The Army War College educational program prepares graduates to --
Think strategically and skillfully develop strategies to achieve national security objectives
Provide strategic context and perspective to inform and advise national level leaders, providing sound, nuanced and thoughtful military advice
Apply intellectual rigor and adaptive problem solving to multi-domain, joint warfighting and enterprise-level challenges
Lead teams with expert knowledge and collaborate with others to provide innovative solutions to complex, unstructured problems
Exercise moral judgment and promote the values and ethics of the profession of arms
Convey complex information and communicate effectively and persuasively to any audience.