• Speaker continues Roosevelt lecture tradition

  • Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, chief of the General Staff of the British Army, delivered the 73rd annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture March 7 to the students and faculty of the Command and General Staff College.

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  • Harry Sarles | Army University Public Affairs
    Gen. Mark Carleton-Smith, chief of the General Staff of the British Army, delivered the 73rd annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture March 7 to the students and faculty of the Command and General Staff College.
    Carleton-Smith said the Kermit Roosevelt Lecture is an opportunity for two intimate allies to explore the nature of that friendship. He said the lecture series was a legacy from Belle Roosevelt for her husband and serves to remind both armies that complacency is the death knell of a relationship.
    “The Kermit Roosevelt Lecture is about brothers in arms and why that’s important,” Carleton-Smith said.
    Thomas Jefferson said old Europe would have to lean on America, Carleton-Smith said.
    “But it wasn’t until 1940 that a strong and durable identity of international interest in Europe and beyond emerged between Washington and London,” he said.
    That identity was cemented in 1942 after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “astonishing act of strategic vision,” he said.
    “Just think about it, he responded to an attack on America’s Pacific Front at Pearl Harbor by declaring a strategy of ‘Germany First,’ making the Atlantic and the European front his principle strategic priority,” Carleton-Smith said.
    Since that time, genuine friendships between the two nations’ political leaders have spanned generations.
    “Think FDR and Winston Churchill, (John F. Kennedy) and (Harold) MacMillan, (Ronald) Reagan and (Margaret) Thatcher, and more recently George W. Bush and Tony Blair. The relationship at army level is even deeper still,” he said.
    “The return of great power relevance reminds us of its importance today,” Carleton-Smith said. “Transnational terrorism isn’t going to go away, but we might recognize it as a minor cause in comparison to the rising threats of the nation state.
    “The challenge is to ensure that our military relationship — underwritten by security forces of successive generations and that we’ve paid for in blood and sacrifice — doesn’t come to seem like the final chapter in a fading affair, rather than the backbone of our future in a more competitive world in which history is far from finished with us,” he said.
    He said there should be confidence in NATO’s durability as it celebrates its 70th anniversary next month. Balance of power concerns are once more part of international dialogue as great power rivalry reasserts itself.
    “We’re reminded that the rules-based international system that has regulated international discourse all our lives isn’t self-sustaining. It’s actually underpinned by power. Hard power, predominately, albeit not exclusively, American power,” Carleton-Smith said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The balance of power is currently under pressure from three primary avenues — the erosion of European power, the unravelling of the political settlement across the Middle East and the unravelling of the Nixon-Kissinger strategy that broke China from the Soviet orbit.
    Given the changes in the world and the increased pace of technology and innovation, Carleton-Smith said “my message to the British Army is to think big, start small but be prepared to scale rapidly.”
    The challenges for the British Army, that resonate in America as well, are four-fold. He said the British and U.S. armies must continue to make the case and argue the relevance and importance of land power as opposed to those who flaunt the challenge and utility of cyber. Armies also need to work out how to create and sustain a credible asymmetric advantage, he said.
    “We’ve got to be doing this together. This is, in every sense, a team sport,” he said, “and, we’re going to have to go farther together.”
    The most important, innovative and resilient capability are people, Carleton-Smith said.
    “People are not just in the Army, people are the Army,” he said. “I’m talking about a winning Army. A winning Army founded on comradeship, on self-respect and on self-discipline. A winning Army imbued with initiative and daring, with originality and self-confidence, and with professional knowledge and infectious energy in all its commanders at every level.
    “I’m talking about an inextinguishable will to win, a relentless pursuit of professional excellence, and a determination not to be thwarted by those inevitable setbacks,” Carleton-Smith said.
    The Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series began in 1947. Kermit Roosevelt was the second son of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was a businessman, explorer and writer, and served in both world wars in the British and American armies.
    Since 1997, the Kermit Roosevelt lecturer from the United Kingdom speaks at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Army War College and the Armed Forces Staff College, as well as CGSC. The Kermit Roosevelt Fund was sustained through 1957 by Belle Roosevelt, and through 1969 by grants from the Rockefeller and McCormick Foundations. In 1970, it was mutually agreed that the Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series would be officially supported by the United Kingdom and the United States as a continuation of the program formerly sponsored by the Kermit Roosevelt Fund.
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