As the more than 320 graduates of the Command and General Staff College’s yearlong officer’s course prepare to move into their next assignments, a top Army official Friday gave them some advice.
In the background of the remarks from Gen. David Rodriguez, the commanding general of U.S. Army Command, were a number of big changes — of which the largest-ever amount of new Army doctrine, said the fort’s Commanding General Lt. Gen. David Perkins, is just one.
“For all of you, the hardest leadership tests are yet to come,” Rodriguez said.
There are new threats, he said — from non-state terrorists abroad, from cyber-terrorism and from the violent narcotics trade. And there are the anticipated decreases in defense spending over the next decade, which will result in a leaner U.S. military.
Perkins said in his introduction of Rodriguez — a man he called the “answer to the test” on mission command — that handling seismic shifts in the military are nothing new to the CGSC students.
“Most of the transitions and flexure points of the Army get driven by the majors that graduate from this institution,” he said.
Rodriguez offered that the graduates will need to become leaders, bringing fresh perspectives and ideas as they face the new challenges.
“The tendency is to look inward, to protect what we have,” he said, referring to impending budget cuts. “We cannot do this.”
Furthermore, Rodriguez said defense personnel from different agencies will need to work together to better leverage resources and information. Key to that will be not simply learning the ins and outs of each organization, he said.
“Do not be afraid to communicate and overcommunicate,” Rodriguez said, encouraging the graduates to leave jargon behind wehen necesary, “because I don’t think you really can overcommunicate.”
But Rodriguez said he had no doubt that those receiving their diplomas would be able to navigate those changes.
“Be excited about the prospects of the future,” he said. “For the Army, for America, for our partners. It’s a bright future, full of opportunities, and I know that in 2017, when we have a smaller Army, it’s going to be a better one.”
In addition to conferring diplomas to the graduates, the CGSC also recognized top graduates during the ceremony, including the Gen. George C. Marshall Award for the most outstanding student, which went to Maj. Douglas Ball; and the Gen. Dwight Eisenhower Award for the most outstanding international student, a recognition that went to Maj. Terrance McDonald of New Zealand.