• SAMS honors best, brightest graduates

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Seventeen students from the Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program and 141 students from the Advanced Military Studies Program of the School of Advanced Military Studies graduated during a ceremony May 24 in Eisenhower Auditorium of the Lewis and Clark Center.
    Maj. Gen. James Pasquarette, commanding general of U.S. Army Japan at Camp Zama, Japan, served as guest speaker for the graduation. Pasquarette graduated from SAMS in 1996. He was commissioned into the Army in 1983 and has served in Illesheim, Germany; Washington, D.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort McPherson, Ga.; Fort Hood, Texas; Iraq; and Fort Carson, Colo. He assumed his present duties on July 8, 2015.
    “I think you made a great choice to attend SAMS, to graduate here today, and I think it’s something that you will increasingly appreciate over time,” Pasquarette said.
    Pasquarette, after reflecting on his own experience at SAMS, said he had advice for the graduates as they move forward in their next assignments.
    “You’re definitely ready for the challenge,” he said. “Take what you’ve learned here and apply it. Reach out to those friends that are sitting next to you right now. You’re going to be working on the same problems and you should help each other through the problem.
    “Most importantly, enjoy it and what you’re about to take on. The experience you gained now is going to help you through the rest of your career,” he said. “(Finally,) remember whatever the Army asks of you in your next assignment, it’s not more important than what your family deserves from you.”
    Following Pasquarette’s remarks, five awards for excellence were presented to five members of the graduating class.
    The Col. Thomas Felts Leadership Award is considered the top award in SAMS. It is awarded to the student who best exemplifies all the desired attributes of a SAMS student. Felts graduated from the AMSP in 1998 and was a student in the SAMS senior service program in 2005. He was killed in action in Iraq in 2006 while serving as an adviser to the Iraqi Army. The 2018 recipient of the Felts Leadership Award was Maj. Gary Klein.
    “For leadership, it’s very much not just about the traditional leadership where you think you’re a leader of an organization and you’ve got subordinates, but I think this award in particular was looking at leadership amongst peers,” Klein said. “You have to lead down, lead up, lead to peers across the board, and I tried to do that this year.”
    The Iron Planner Award for best physical fitness is presented to the student with the highest overall Army Physical Fitness Score. The 2018 recipient was Maj. Jason Kowrac.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Fitness is definitely extremely important just in what we do at the tactical level, and it’s been instilled in us from day one with just the rigors of basic training, operations and then continues to be part of the daily regimen while we’re at our units,” Kowrac said. “It allows me to perform well spiritually and just keeping that going in all aspects and doing the best I can in all aspects in my life is the piece that is important to me.”
    The Col. Arthur D. Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation Writing Award recognizes the student with an “excellence in writing that provides insight and fresh thinking in advancing the knowledge, understanding and practice of interagency coordination and cooperation,” said Eric Price, SAMS exercise director who served as master of ceremonies.
    The 2018 recipient was Gary Mills, U.S. Army North, for his paper, “Reassessing the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Enterprise.”
    “It’s just a topic that interested me, and I was in a position to have access to some key subject matter experts, as well as know the topic myself to make some recommendations in regard to that enterprise,” Mills said. “The idea that someone is interested in my monograph to actually publish it in a quarterly that has 11,000 people that actually read that quarterly simply means a lot to me. It’s a high honor.”
    Mills’ monograph will be published in the InterAgency Journal through the Simons Center.
    The final two awards recognized one student from each course — ASLSP and AMSP — who were determined to have the best monograph in their class.
    The ASLSP best monograph award recipient was Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charles Readinger for his paper “Missed Opportunities: The United States and Indian Strategic Relationship Following the Cold War.”
    “You read in public domain and national defense strategy how most folks say great power competition is coming back and how we manage our friends, our competitors and our enemies is important,” Readinger said. “India having assumed the largest population on earth as a country is a pretty significant percentage that we might want to have a strong relationship with in order to deter potentially other competitors in that part of the world.”
    The AMSP best monograph award recipient was Maj. Carl Miller for his paper “Confederate Logistics at Vicksburg: A Failure to Balance Momentum, Endurance and Protection.”
    “A lot of people cover the maneuver side of warfare, the destruction, the shooting and things like that (and) I think a topic that’s not often covered is logistic that goes behind the battle,” Miller said. “The limitations of any Army in the field, how far they can go is dependent on their operational reach, which is due to logistics.”
    Page 3 of 3 - In addition, 31 students were recognized as being on the honors list signifying the top 20 percent in their class and 71 students were recognized for completing the Iron Leader Fitness Challenge which consisted of five exercise stations and a five-mile run completed Nov. 3, 2017.
    Graduates had different perspectives upon reflection of their time at SAMS. Klein said it was about learning the complexity of the military.
    “It’s how interconnected everything is and just how much our military operations are usually aimed against an enemy. (However), the impact that that has on others that are within that physical space, the people, how what we’re trying to plan and do has impacts on the United States (and) the political leaders who are giving us our missions,” he said. “So, this year, it’s really the complexity of how that all comes together, how warfare comes together, how the decisions to go to war are made within the international (and) the domestic realm. This year gave really just a nugget of an introduction into that which will be a really lifelong study for all officers to try and understand.”
    Miller said he learned the power of dialogue.
    “We do a lot of readings on our own and you have your own takeaway from those readings. Then when you go to class and you get to hear everybody else’s perspective, they hang their ideas out there,” he said. “It makes the readings even more powerful. You get to see new sides of something that you read and maybe didn’t understand all the way before from other people.”
    Kowrac said the year made him feel humble.
    “You’ve been given an education here at SAMS and I think that if you don’t do anything with that, then you’re not really embodying what SAMS is about and really taking that forward,” he said. “So, I think that we need to continue to perform at all aspects of our life.”
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