• U.S. students visit U.K., Normandy

  • After students from the United Kingdom visited the Command and General Staff College for two weeks at the end of February, 20 American CGSC students and two instructors made the return exchange to England and France for the second half of the Eagle Owl exchange. Led by Department of Tactics instructors Steve Rosson and Lt. Col. James Scrogin, the American students embedded with British syndicates at the Intermediate Command and Staff Course – Land in Shrivenham, England.

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  • Maj. Houston John Goodell | Command and General Staff College
    After students from the United Kingdom visited the Command and General Staff College for two weeks at the end of February, 20 American CGSC students and two instructors made the return exchange to England and France for the second half of the Eagle Owl exchange. Led by Department of Tactics instructors Steve Rosson and Lt. Col. James Scrogin, the American students embedded with British syndicates at the Intermediate Command and Staff Course – Land in Shrivenham, England.
    During the first week of the exchange, both American and British officers received briefs from British military and history experts on topics such as Air Land Battle, the future of asymmetric warfare and airborne operations in a large-scale combat. On the final day of the first week, each student briefed various aspects of both British and American movement and maneuver doctrine in relation to leadership decisions made in World War II during Operations Overlord, Goodwood and Cobra, and the Falaise Pocket. These briefs helped set the stage for the following week’s staff ride to the battlefields of the Normandy Campaign in France.
    Before a boat ride across the English Channel to France, the American students had the opportunity to sightsee and conduct personal and professional development, traveling to Windsor, Cardiff, Bath, Oxford and London. Highlights included seeing Winston Churchill’s underground war room, a tour of the Tower of London by the Senior Yeoman Warden Beefeater, visiting Windsor Castle, eating in 800-year-old Oxford haunts where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to debate current events of the day, and excursions to see professional rugby and soccer games.
    During the second week of the exchange, British and American students conducted staff rides in various locations relevant to the Normandy campaign. On the first day, the American students visited American-specific locations that played key roles in Operation Overlord, which was the codename for the amphibious and airborne landings along the Normandy coastline. The group was struck by the sheer magnitude of the terrain at Point du Hoc where elements of the Ranger Regiment scaled the cliffs to secure a critical point between Omaha and Utah Beaches. Additionally, the somber mood standing among the graves of soldiers at the American cemetery above Omaha Beach inculcated an impression of the tremendous sacrifice in the name of freedom on each American in our group that will last a lifetime.
    On the second day in France, the Americans again linked up with their British syndicates to tour noteworthy points of the controversial British failures under British Gen. Bernard Montgomery during Operation Goodwood, the follow-on operation to Overlord to secure Caen. The students also discussed the effectiveness of American actions during Operation Cobra under the leadership of American Gen. Omar Bradley. On the final day, the Normandy staff ride concluded with briefings by the students at the Falaise Pocket, where American, British, Canadian and Polish forces decisively defeated German soldiers to secure a permanent foothold in Western Europe.
    Page 2 of 2 - The return crossing of the English Channel resembled an eight-hour rollercoaster, putting into perspective the thousands of British, American and Canadian soldiers who crossed the channel battling rough weather in much smaller Higgins boats on June 5-6, 1944.
    The trip concluded with two more bucket-list opportunities.
    The first was a private tour in Portsmouth by officers in the British Navy of the H.M.S. Victory, which was Adm. Horatio Nelson’s flagship during the Battle of Trafalgar.
    Afterwards, the group traveled to Southwick House to see the map for Operation Neptune, which was the naval planning for Operation Overlord, as well as the situation room where British Adm. Bertram Ramsay and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower planned various aspects of the Normandy invasion.
    In retrospect, the trip to England and France afforded the American students numerous once-in-a-lifetime opportunities: battlefield analysis in the classroom accompanied by real world visualization; exposure to joint operations in multinational training events; and perhaps most importantly, friendships made and mutual respect fostered by field-grade officers in both the British and American armies who may have to fight a modern version of the same battles they studied at some point in the future.
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