AMCOM commander addresses Redstone Arsenal CGSOC graduates
Maj. Gen. Tom O'Connor Jr., commander, Aviation and Missile Command, delivered the keynote address to the new graduates from the Command and General Staff Officers’ Course during a ceremony held April 21 on Redstone Arsenal, Ala. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Coburn) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Command and General Staff School Satellite Campus, located on Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, welcomed 53 new graduates from the Command and General Staff Officers’ Course during a ceremony held April 21 in Heiser Hall.

The graduating class included mid-career officers from throughout the Army representing both active and reserve components, and more than 20 military occupational specialties.

Maj. Gen. Tom O'Connor Jr., commander, Aviation and Missile Command, delivered the commencement speech, highlighting key points for the graduates as they embarked on their new roles — transitioning from company to field grade officers.

O'Connor encouraged the officers to enjoy this phase in their careers and to enable and enhance their teams by collectively working together toward common tasks and goals.

“You are part of the leadership team and charged with running your organization. Coach, mentor, and develop your subordinates and peers, and enable them to be successful,” he said. “This is a team sport. Our Army is stronger and better because of the support we provide each other.”

The general also emphasized the importance of speaking truth to power and ensuring that risks, costs and responsibilities are fully understood. He closed by urging the graduates to go back to their units and make a difference by improving processes and systems and reinvesting in the future.

“Make sure every member of your team has the opportunity to grow, serve and contribute,” O’Connor said. “Find the genius in your subordinates and enable their development and their abilities.”

Upon completion of the speech, the graduates were presented with their diplomas, marking the official end of their CGSOC training. This accomplishment represented not only the end of the four-month, rigorous training program, but also the beginning of a new phase in the graduates' careers and their contributions to the military.

Speaking about the importance of professional military education, Clay Newton, Redstone Arsenal campus director, noted that CGSS is one of the most critical and important steps for these officers.

“At the Command and General Staff School, we take great pride in our mission to educate and develop leaders from being very technically oriented to where they are exercising influence and knowledge awareness in the organization, to assisting and advising senior leaders and commanders with the next best steps for the organization,” Newton said.

The class leaders presented Newton with a signed James Dietz art print titled, “Into the Heart of Darkness,” as a class gift to the Command and General Staff School. The print depicts combat action of Task Force 1 Fury during Operation Furious Pursuit in April 2007.

Among the graduates, Maj. Brian Hewitt, an attorney from Fort Hood, Texas, expressed his gratitude for the cadre who trained him and the classmates who inspired him.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have had such an awesome cadre and equally intelligent and ambitious classmates,” Hewitt said. “The knowledge gained from this course will allow us to lead our organizations with confidence and integrity."

The Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas educates and develops leaders for full-spectrum, joint, interagency and multinational operations. About 2,000 officers have graduated from the Redstone Arsenal Satellite Campus, which opened in January 2010. The other three satellite campuses include Fort Belvoir and Fort Lee, in Virginia, and Fort Gordon, Georgia.