FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — The Command and General Staff College inducted leaders from the Czech Republic and Romania into its International Hall of Fame at the Lewis and Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth April 11. The full ceremony is available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/USACGSC/videos/523336216448366/.
Inductees are: Lt. Gen. Josef Kopecký, Czech Republic, Commander of the Joint Operations Command, Czech Republic Land Forces and Lt. Gen. Iulian Berdilӑ, Romania, Chief of Land Forces Staff. Following this induction, the International Hall of Fame consists of 296 leaders from 80 nations. More than 8,400 international officers from 166 countries have graduated from the college since the first international officer attended in 1894.
Commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth and Commandant of the Command and General Staff College, Lt. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr., hosted the ceremony. “Our International Hall of Fame inductees represent the absolute pinnacle of personal and professional achievement as senior military officers,” he said. “It is timely and valuable that our EUCOM [European Command] partner international military students will bear personal witness to this special recognition of these distinguished graduates,” said Beagle.
“The Czech Republic is an important ally,” said Beagle. “They’re doing their part in the defense of Europe and NATO against Russian aggression as demonstrated by their role as a framework nation for the new NATO Battle Group being established in Slovakia and the service of Czech service members in the battle groups in Latvia and Lithuania, and Czech pilots in the NATO Air Policing mission.”
Josef Kopecký, Command and General Staff Officers Course Class 0f 2002, became Commander of the Joint Operations Command Jan. 1, 2020. Prior to that he served as Commander of Land Forces. Kopecký is the first International Hall of Fame inductee from the Czech Republic.
He related how the U.S. military attaché in the Czech Republic in 2000 recommended to his superiors that he be sent to CGSC. At the time he did not know what CGSC was. Following his graduation, he said he had a good background from CGSC in the various national and international leadership positions he filled. “Leadership is the main topic here for future commanders,” he said. “It’s the most important thing to learn here, and CGSC does it!” Beside the studies, he said the friendship and partnership were most important for foreign students.
Kopecký was commissioned in 1986, initially serving as platoon leader and company commander in the 15th Armor Regiment. Later he commanded the 1st Tank Battalion also in the 15th Armor.
Leaving the 15th Armor, he served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the 1st Tank Battalion, 33rd Armor Regiment and as Deputy Commander, 74th Mechanized Battalion. He then served as Chief of the G3 Operations Group, 1st Mechanized Division. Following that he commanded the 21st Mechanized Battalion.
After commanding the 21st, Kopecký joined the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Germany. Following allied service, he served as Chief of Operations for the Czech Republic Joint Forces Command and then as Chief of Staff and later Deputy Commander of the Training Command – Military Academy.
He commanded the 7th Mechanized Brigade followed by commanding the Training Command – Military Academy prior to his promotion to General and assignment as Commander of Land Forces. He has served operational tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.
Introducing Berdilӑ, Beagle said, “The Romanian role in the defense of Europe’s eastern flank is essential. Sharing a border with Ukraine and possessing Black Sea access requires steadfast leadership and real capability. And, we have that in our Romanian allies and leaders such as General Berdilӑ.”
Berdilӑ, Command and General Staff Officers Course Class 0f 2004, School of Advanced Military Studies Class of 2005, became Chief of the Romanian Land Forces Staff in March 2020.
“As I recall from 2003, 2005, the commandant mentioned this was an institution of potential,” he said. “We were in the middle of the coalition for the counterinsurgency strategy, Iraq, Afghanistan, developing a lot of the multinational capabilities together to maintain peace and stability.
“Stay connected, maintain the network, because you will need it,” Berdilӑ said. He said the next two years will be challenging for the [NATO] alliance, he said. He noted the CGSC international officers from the European Command area were present and highlighted the presence of a Ukrainian officer in the course.
“The solidarity of the allies is something that cannot be questioned,” he said. “The level of exercise integration that we conducted on the entire eastern flank, was very much a proof and an evidence of how competent and professional the tactical and operational staff were. And trust me, you, as graduates of CGSC will become one of these. You have to take the challenge and burden to optimize the operational level.”
“This is an institution of personal and priceless leadership for the future as we come together either U.S. or allied and partner officers out there in the world,” he concluded.
A native of Galați, Galați County, he graduated from the Field Artillery Officers School, Sibiu in 1992. His first assignment was platoon leader, 16th Artillery Regiment. He then joined the 2nd Infantry Battalion “Calugareni” as antitank platoon leader, fires support officer and then antitank battery commander.
He served staff assignments including Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the 2nd Infantry Division, G-5 for the Land Component Command, Aide-de-Camp for the Chief of the Romanian General Staff and NATO integration planner.
His operational experience includes deployments in Iraq (2007) and Afghanistan (2011).
Previous command assignments include Headquarters Multinational Division South-East, J5 - Strategic Planning Directorate, 81st Mechanized Brigade and 2nd Infantry Battalion.
Berdilӑ holds a Bachelor of Science from the Romanian Land Forces Academy and Master’s Degrees from the School of Advanced Military Studies and a Master’s degree from the War College. He attended the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth and the US Army Field Artillery Captain’s Career Course, and Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
International military student participation in cooperative military studies in the United States originated at Fort Leavenworth with the arrival of Swiss Lieutenant Henri Le Comte in 1894. Since then, international students have become an integral part of the Fort Leavenworth experience. These talented military officers contribute to a rich professional and cultural exchange environment.
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. Fifteen International Hall of Fame members have gone on to be heads of state or heads of government in their countries.
In addition to being inducted into the Hall of Fame, inductees are presented a certificate of honor by the Military Order of the World Wars and are honored as Life Constituents by the CGSC Foundation. Brig. Gen. (Retired) Bryan W. Wampler, chairman of the Foundation Board of Trustees presented the Life-Constituent award.