• CGSOC Class of 2019 graduates

  • More than 1,100 students graduated from the Command and General Staff Officer Course June 14.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    More than 1,100 students — 827 soldiers, 109 international military students representing 87 different countries, 77 airmen, 25 Marines, 22 sailors, 24 civilians and one Coast Guardsman — graduated from the Command and General Staff Officer Course in a ceremony June 14 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium. Master of military art and science degrees were bestowed on 151 members of the class.
    The ceremony was relocated from Main Parade because of the weather.
    “We spent a lot of time in this auditorium this year, and I guess as we went through probably one of the roughest winters we’ve seen in the Midwest in a long time, it is appropriate that mother nature bodes again, and we’re back here in the big bedroom,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth and commandant of the Command and General Staff College, during his opening remarks. “This has been a phenomenal class both collectively and at the individual level, and you can be very proud of all that you have accomplished.
    “Your watch starts again this afternoon when you leave this post, and you are now stewards of our profession, and there is more expected of you by your soldiers, your sailors, your airmen, your Marines and your leaders,” he said. “I’m absolutely confident that you’re all ready to meet that challenge and that our nation and all the nations that are represented here by our international officers are in great hands.”
    Following his remarks, Lundy introduced guest speaker Gen. Stephen Townsend, Training and Doctrine Command commander and 1994 CGSOC graduate. Townsend said the graduates were selected to attend CGSOC for a reason.
    “First of all, you’re leaving much better prepared than I was as an organizational planner and leader,” Townsend said. “Second, you’ve been given an opportunity to connect with a remarkable network of peers across the Army, across the armed services, the interagency and even across the international community here.
    “Whether you realize it yet or not, you leave with an excellent professional network of peers and friends, and that network is going to sustain you and support you,” he said.
    Townsend said the first responsibility the graduates have as professional officers is to master the trade.
    “Your core competency is to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Townsend said. “Our soldiers deserve your absolute best. In fact, your lives will often depend on it.
    “Our nations have made a tremendous investment in you the past year, so whether you’re going to the operating force, the sustaining force or the generating force, you’re going to be doing the heavy lifting as an iron major for our Army,” he said. “Take what you’ve learned here and apply it out there in the field, but most importantly, go out there and be the leader that our soldiers deserve.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Townsend said this can be accomplished in three ways. First, elevate the team player.
    “Don’t just solve your unit’s problems, but come up with courses of action and help higher headquarters solve larger problems,” he said.
    Second, help the commander reinvigorate mission command in the unit.
    “Focus on first things first. Whatever the unit’s mission is, that must be your priority,” he said. “Reduce the administration and the taskings and give time back to those company, battery and troop commanders out there. Encourage and empower them to make decisions and use their initiatives.”
    Finally, he told them, be a coach to the junior officers.
    “A major is a big deal to junior officers, especially to a lieutenant in the battalion-sized organizations,” he said. “Be a role model for them. They are watching you. They are listening to you, and they are learning from you. Be more of a coach and mentor and less of a hammer.”
    Townsend closed his remarks with words of encouragement.
    “We have the utmost faith and confidence in you, in your commitment, in your capabilities and in your leadership,” he said. “Our soldiers and our nations will be counting on you. I know you will not fail us.”
    After Townsend’s remarks, 18 awards were presented recognizing the most distinguished graduates. The General George C. Marshall Award and the General Dwight D. Eisenhower Award are the most prestigious awards earned by CGSOC students.
    The Marshall Award recognizes the most distinguished U.S. graduate in each CGSOC class. Created in 1960, it “recognizes scholarship and leadership, pays homage to one of America’s most honored soldiers and serves as a lasting incentive to officers attending the college,” according to the CGSC Foundation website.
    The 2019 recipient of the Marshall Award was Maj. Dana Gingrich.
    Upon receiving the award, Gingrich said two things came to mind.
    “Marshall was so impactful in his military career, and developing others is definitely something that I aspire to emulate in my career. His success was marked by the success of others, and I think that is something that I would hope would define my military career,” Gingrich said. “Secondly, when you look at the board of all the past Marshall Award winners, it gives me something to aspire to, the leaders of the past. I represent more than just this award. It is the legacy of the award and everyone that came before me.”
    Gingrich also received the General George S. Patton Jr. Distinguished Master Tactician Award, the General Douglas MacArthur Military Leadership Writing Award and the Lieutenant Colonel Boyd McCanna Harris Leadership Award, all of which, Gingrich said, fall into two categories he is passionate about — leader development, and military tactics and doctrinal foundation.
    Page 3 of 3 - “It wasn’t anything beyond the realm of what I consider to be a professional in the Army, and CGSC provided me the opportunity to pursue that profession in the classroom and outside the classroom,” Gingrich said. “I think that is one of the special things about coming here for a year is you reflect on all your experiences up until this point, and then it provides you the time and space to start thinking forward.
    “As an officer, I am constantly learning and coming to CGSC and seeing a different level of tactics, interacting with my peers, learning from my peers, really keeps me grounded in that I never know enough. I am never proficient enough,” he said. “I can always be learning. I can always be absorbing because the world around us is changing, and if I don’t change with it or grow with it then I’m not being the best officer I can be.”
    Gingrich’s next assignment is with the Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Ga.
    The Eisenhower Award was first announced at the CGSOC International Graduate Badge Ceremony June 13 in Eisenhower Auditorium. The award recognizes the most distinguished international graduate in each CGSOC class. Established in 1969 by the Henry Leavenworth Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, it “honors military scholarship and is held in the highest esteem by the winners and the nations from which they come,” according to the CGSC Foundation website.
    The 2019 recipient of the Eisenhower Award was British Maj. Nicholas Stafford. Stafford also received his MMAS degree during the ceremony. He will be attending the School of Advanced Military Studies for the 2019-20 schoolyear.
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