More than a dozen international security assistance liaison officers, assigned to the Security Assistance Command, visited the U.S. Military Academy to observe one of the pillars of U.S. military education firsthand.

Founded more than 200 years ago on the shores of the Hudson River, in upstate New York, West Point has developed and produced over 60,000 military leaders with notable alumni that includes Grant, Pershing, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Patton, Westmoreland and Schwarzkopf.

USASAC, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, manages the SALO, program from its logistics and transportation offices in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. As the lead implementing agency for Army international military sales cases to more than 150 countries and security organizations around the globe, within USASAC’s mission and priorities are three tenets: build partner capacity, strengthen global partnerships, and support combatant command strategies by increasing interoperability with U.S. forces.

These tenets fall directly in line with the National Defense Strategy’s second line of effort: strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.

From a tactical and operational perspective, having international liaison officers working directly with country case managers at USASAC’s logistics and transportation offices has a direct, positive correlation on a country’s ability to mitigate and solve issues related to their international military sales cases.

Over the past 10 years, more than 50 SALOs have lived and worked in the U.S., gaining a better understanding of the American way of life, as they and sometimes their families, immerse themselves in their communities.

The engagement at West Point, a first for USASAC SALOs, provided them with an understanding of how the U.S. develops future military leaders, the historical relevance of West Point, and a unique discussion on law as it relates to the battlefield.

“Many SALOs are graduates of their country’s military school so it was a highly anticipated visit to compare institutions,” Lt. Col. Carlos Pauloni said. “The visit to the U.S. Military Academy was very important because it helped us understand the core of the training many U.S. Army officers receive, and when we get to know more deeply the institution with which we relate, we have better conditions to perform our role.”

After a command overview briefing from the academy’s Chief of Staff Col. Mark Weathers, the SALOs witnessed an impressive logistical feat as more than 4,400 cadets entered the dining hall and ate lunch, all within 20 minutes.

During that time the SALOs were honored with announcements and had the chance to visit with their own country’s future officers, many of whom are attending the academy as cadets.

Maj. Kevin Chan, an ordnance officer with more than 14 years in his country’s military, expressed his delight in visiting.

“West Point educates and trains cadets to know how to become good students, great Soldiers, perfect athletes and remarkable leaders,” he said. “The academy integrates academic, military, physical and character building as one comprehensive developmental program.”

A little-known fact is that since 1889, the U.S. Military Academy has graduated more than 680 military officers from over 80 countries.

“Currently West Point has 57 cadets enrolled from 31 nations,” Shane Hatcher, security cooperation officer, said. “The academy has a substantial semester exchange program with partner academies and international civilian universities. Our intent is to enhance relationships throughout the world by providing a platform to foster trust and understanding between future military leaders.”

Not only does West Point have international military cadets, but it also has 13 instructors under the Military Personnel Exchange Program from 10 partner nations.

“The bonds formed between our cadets, instructors and our partners are immeasurable in present value, and there is irrefutable proof that these types of military-to-military programs have a positive impact in times of both war and peace,” Hatcher said.

The group attended a briefing with the Director of the Lieber Institute, Robert Lawless, who posed hypothetical war-related questions to the group and engaged them in discussions about law and ethics in relation to the battlefield environment.

As the group walked through the historic halls, there was one simple motto that has defined and influenced generations of West Point cadets, including USASAC commander, Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon. Harmon graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s in European history and Russian language studies.

“The words ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ are universal, and also resonate with our allies and partners around the world,” Harmon said. “The important role of allies and partners cannot be overstated, and any opportunity to engage and further strengthen this is of critical importance.”

The following day, the SALOs observed a Pass in Review ceremony as 60th Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams inspected the Corps of Cadets. The West Point Parachute Team performed an aerial demonstration at the end of the review and provided an opportunity for participants to meet and talk to members of the team.

From there, the group got a chance to watch their first American football game as Army took on the Miami University Red Hawks, which Army won 23-10.

“The Army Black Knights football experience was outstanding,” Lt. Col. Shai Schu said. “The all-day game experience together with parachuting, helicopters and cannons demonstrated the great spirit and atmosphere the academy has. This visit was unique and special, something that we, as internationals, have never seen before.”

“West Point is a special place, but there is no better place to watch a football game on a Saturday, and we need international partners to understand and echo the important phrase: ‘Go Army, Beat Navy!’” Harmon said.

Terra Good, the program manager for the SALO program, knew the cultural value and uniquely American military institution visit would have a deep and profound impact on the group.

“The visit to West Point made a lasting impression and reflects highly on USASAC’s commitment to building and fostering international partnerships,” Good said.

“I’m proud to support an organization that focuses on customer service and desire to remain the Army’s Gold Standard in building international relations and partner force interoperability, like the team at USASAC does every day,” she said.