FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Dec. 10, 2009) - Students, faculty, family and friends gathered for the School of Advanced Military Studies class 2009-02 graduation Dec. 3 in the Lewis and Clark Center's Eisenhower Auditorium.

The 29 SAMS graduates included officers from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, Germany and the United Kingdom, and one Department of Defense civilian. Each of the graduates received a master of military arts and science degree, and most will be assigned as division or corps-level staff officers.

The Best Monograph Award was presented to Maj. Jon Parvin for his paper "China's Military Modernization: Global Interests, But Not Yet Expeditionary."

The guest speaker at the graduation was Brig. Gen. Edward Cardon, acting commandant of the Command and General Staff College. He said the Army relies on SAMS graduates to be critical, creative thinkers capable of developing innovative solutions.

"You should all be very proud of what you accomplished, and excited about what lies ahead," Cardon said to the graduates. "The Army holds high expectations of SAMS graduates, and now it's time to meet those expectations."

One of the graduates, Maj. Dan Edwan, said for him the most rewarding part of the SAMS curriculum was studying the theories of design and complex adaptive systems.

"The overall experience in looking at systems thinking, design and ambiguous problems is more than just a military lesson, it's a life lesson in how to think and be innovative," he said.

Edwan, an infantry officer, said his next assignment will be as a brigade operations officer in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.

Maj. Guenther Daniels, a general staff officer in the German Army, said design theory was the most interesting part of the SAMS curriculum.

"It (design theory) is for me the most outstanding part in SAMS during the course. It gives you really all the tools and ideas how to plan in an uncertain environment," he said.

Col. Stefan Banach, director of SAMS, said 10 of the 29 graduates will deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan immediately after graduation.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of SAMS in 1984.