By 2nd Lt. Nathan Wagner,U.S. Corps of CadetsSeptember 10, 2009
Cadet and midshipmen leadership from the five service academies came together to improve individual leadership skills in the areas of goal setting, team building and problem solving, as well as strengthening the ties among the cadet and midshipmen leadership of the five service academies at the 28th annual Robert T. Stevens Leadership Conference Aug. 30-Sept. 3 at West Point.
West Point cadets enjoyed meeting their counterparts from the other academies and discussing different leadership techniques.
"It is great to meet with the other academies to see how they approach leadership and how it compares with what I have experienced over the past three years," Cadet Brigade Sgt. Maj. Richard Starks said.
West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy each had eight delegates representing their respective academies, to include the brigade and deputy brigade commanders, executive officers, sergeants major and the four regimental commanders (or their equivalents-as the ranks are different at each academy). The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine Academies sent their four highest-ranking cadets.
The attendees discussed inter- and intra-academy issues and ways to overcome these challenges to benefit all who are involved. Retired Lt. Col. Barry Berglund, a leadership development professional and honorary senior fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership, has overseen this seminar at West Point for the past 16 years.
He facilitated the interaction among the attendees and fostered cohesion among the academy leadership through a series of discussions and team development exercises.
When asked what he gained from attending the conference, Naval Academy Brigade Commander Ryan Steenberge said, "It's been fantastic working with the other schools' leadership. We have the great opportunity to watch the services unite, not just the academies, but also learn how it will work in the different branches of the military down the road."
The Stevens Conference provided lessons that all the attendees can apply during their final academic year and during their careers as officers in the U.S. military.
The delegates attended a formal dinner at Herbert Hall Sept. 1 at which Superintendent Lt. Gen. Buster Hagenbeck discussed the importance of joint relationships in today's military environment and how his personal relationships with other branch leadership helped him during his command in Afghanistan.
The Stevens Leadership Conference was first held in 1981, and it is sponsored by a grant from the late Honorable Robert T. Stevens, former Secretary of the Army and 1977 Thayer Award recipient.