Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The posting of the U.S. colors and the flags of 43 countries from around the world formally kicked off the beginning of the 2020-21 Command and General Staff Officer Course in a ceremony Sept. 8 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium. The event was streamed live on the U.S. Command and General Staff College Facebook page.
CGSC was founded in 1881 and began welcoming international students in 1894. Since then, more than 8,000 international students from 165 different nations have attended. Several of those graduates have gone on to achieve general officer rank, and many of them have achieved the positions as chief of their nation’s army or higher, earning them a spot in the CGSC’s International Hall of Fame. Currently, there are 285 inductees representing 73 countries in the IHOF.
“I can think of no better symbol of the significance of (CGSOC) than the ceremonial posting of the national colors of each of the countries that have accepted the invitation of the United States to send their best and most qualified officers for cooperative study alongside our best officers,” said Brig. Gen. Donn Hill, CGSC deputy commandant. “This formal posting of the national colors continues to symbolize the declaration of each nation’s commitment to use the coming year to advance our shared interest to win together in a complex world.
“Today, we have U.S. Army officers, sister service officers, interagency representatives and international military officers from (43) countries starting their journey to continue educational endeavors as part of a community of nations committed to freedom,” he said.
This year’s class includes 45 international students representing 43 countries. They join 828 U.S. soldiers, 40 Guardsmen, 38 Reservists, 78 airmen, 24 sailors, 27 Marines, one Coastguardsman, and seven Department of the Army and interagency civilians.
Hill said he had two challenges for the Class of 2021.
His first challenge was to never stop learning.
“Take this year especially to refine your personal self-development plan,” Hill said. “In the context of a career in the military, this year will be one of the best, but only if you invest the effort to make it so.”
Second, build relationships with classmates, he said.
“(Those relationships) will endure beyond this course. These are the officers that you will serve with for the rest of your career in peace and in war,” Hill said. “Get to know them now. They will never let you down.”
Because of adjustments made because of COVID-19, between 250-300 students will begin the year remotely and will report for in-person attendance in January.