Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
More than 150 students graduated from the School of Advanced Military Studies during a pre-recorded virtual ceremony May 27 on the Army University Facebook page and YouTube Channel.
SAMS graduates receive a master’s degree from one of two courses — the Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program or the Advanced Military Studies Program.
“To provide officers a deep, broad education on the science and art of warfare is the No. 1 goal of the education that you’ve received,” said SAMS graduate Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle Jr., commanding general of U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, S.C., who served as the guest speaker. “Plant this seed so that our Army and leaders at multiple levels reap the harvest of critical and creative thinkers who are agile and adaptive leaders steeped in the knowledge of doctrine and operational art.”
Beagle highlighted six things for graduates to remember as they advance in their career. First, expertise.
“Realize that you are an expert on any topic,” Beagle said. “Many of us that completed SAMS, regardless of our branch, became the resident experts on a multitude of topics.”
Second, be vocal and have personal courage.
“Never be afraid to speak up or speak truth to power, especially if you know the topic or it is a topic that you’ve analyzed deeply, which will be every topic that you touch,” he said. “Have the courage to do what is right for the command and the organization.”
Third, help the command analyze and visualize matters.
“There will never be enough time, but you will be in charge of preserving the precious time by focusing the process and the products to meet the need and, more importantly, the intent,” he said.
Fourth, build a rapport with everyone.
“Check your ego at the door and do your part to educate others. You will build teams, you will teach teams, and you will be the focal point of team cohesion,” Beagle said. “Others will not know as much as you know, and you will undoubtedly hold others to your standards. Some are capable and some are not unless you show them the way.”
Fifth, simplify to clarify.
“You and your team will be successful if you achieve a sense of crystallization on a given topic,” he said. “In simple terms, you bring clarity where others haven’t looked deep enough to find it.”
“Along with the coaching and mentoring, vertically and horizontally, you must identify and encourage those with the potential to be future SAMSters,” he said.
Following Beagle’s remarks, awards for excellence were presented to five members of the graduating class.
The Colonel Thomas Felts Leadership Award is considered the top award in SAMS. It is awarded to the student who best exemplifies all of the desired attributes of a SAMS student. Felts graduated from 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 2021 recipient of the Felts Leadership Award is Maj. Tim Dwyer.
“In the Army, good leadership is what saves lives. Good leadership is what increases the quality of life of everybody else in the military and allows us to uphold the service that we give to the United States, the people of the United States and the Constitution,” Dwyer said. “Great leadership is what makes that happen. I always harken back to the fact that the Army is a people organization. It takes people to take care of other people and its leadership that does that.
“This is not an award I ever expected to receive, but (I’ll be) able to use that (award) to serve humbly in the future and try to use it to live up to the legacy of Colonel Tom Felts, his incredible leadership, the person he was and then his legacy of selfless service,” he said. “If I could live up to one-10th of his legacy and what he accomplished, especially using what I learned at SAMS, that would make this all a success for me.”
The Colonel Arthur D. Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation Writing Award recognizes the student who shows excellence in writing and provides insight and fresh thinking in advancing the knowledge, understanding and practice of interagency coordination and cooperation.
The 2021 recipient is Maj. Samuel Haynes, for his monograph, “Putting the ‘I’ in JIIM: Developing Army Leaders for Interagency Success.”
“I’m incredibly honored to be recognized among really incredible teammates. I also appreciate the opportunity to develop my research and writing ability. Lastly, I’m glad that the course provides a platform for us to contribute to our professional body of knowledge,” Haynes said. “(SAMS) encourages us to think critically and creatively, and then one big component is reflection through in-class assignments, take-home assignments and … personal time that we spend away from the course. Putting all those things together helps us make sense of it all.”
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 is Col. Dan Herlihy for his paper “Changing the Army’s Mind: Achieving Cognitive Dominance for Multi-Domain Operations.”
“I’ve seen how the Army has changed through the years, and I’ve seen how the way we fight is more complex and the equipment is more complex, but at the same time our cognitive training is really the same as it has been since I’ve been in the Army,” Herlihy said. “I wanted to look at cognitive performance and how we can better train, educate and equip our soldiers to perform in the cognitive domain for success on a future battlefield.”
The AMSP best monograph award recipient is German Lt. Col. Martin Prokoph for his paper “Don’t Just Hear, Listen: The Criticality of Accepting Local Nationals’ Priorities in Stability Operations.”
“When I came here one of my personal goals was to become a better academic writer,” Prokoph said. “In (the Command and General Staff Officer Course), they have a program where you pick goals, professional and private goals, and they assist you or guide you in working on those, so I started last year in CGSC, and finishing with such an award is an amazing feeling.”
Prokoph’s next assignment is speech writer for the deputy chief of the German Army.
“This (award) probably raised the expectation,” Prokoph said. “It will be challenging job, but I’m really excited for it, and I’m looking forward to getting a new task, a new challenge.”
The final award was the Iron Planner Award awarded to the graduate with the highest score in the new Army Combat Fitness Test.
The Iron Planner Award recipient is Maj. Andy Bisset after he received a perfect score of 600.
“(The new ACFT) is very challenging, but it’s a step in the right direction toward a more comprehensive fitness assessment,” Bisset said. “(Fitness) just gives me a mental break, and it takes my mind off whatever else I’m doing.”
Along with the five main awards, 50 students — five ASLSP and 45 AMSP — were recognized for being in the top 30 percent in their class.