Marshall Foundation hosts ROTC awards seminar at VMI

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Addressing the 266 George C. Marshall Army ROTC Award winners, then-Lt. Gen. Dennis L. Via, deputy U.S Army Materiel (AMC) commander, who has since been promoted to general and AMC commander, framed an important theme that was revisited many times during the three-day leadership training and national security seminar held April 15-17, 2012, in Lexington, Va., on the campuses of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and Washington and Lee University.

He said, "While many of you here tonight are 21 or 22 years old, on September 11, 2001, you were only 10 or 11 years old, and every day since then you grew up in a nation at war, the longest in our nation’s history."

That theme, broadly defined, included discussion of how the Army prepares for a changing world, how it now transitions to a smaller force, and how this planning will affect these soon-to-be-commissioned officers who represent the best from Army ROTC detachments across the United States.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told the cadets, "Our strategic environment has changed and will continue to change in unpredictable ways. Today, the world is defined by uncertainty and change."

Adding, "This calls for us to think and lead in new ways."

At the closing session, Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said the Army is going through two fundamental transitions: one structural and one human.

He sees a reduction in the number of soldiers from about 570,000 now to about 490,000, and a shift to regional alignment of units that study language and culture of places they may be sent.

As a result leaders in the years ahead will be expected to understand international affairs and strategic thinking.

"Your soldiers expect you to be the linkage between one of them in terms of leading them in day-to-day operations and at the same time tying into the big strategy – the person who can explain why all this works," Cone said.

Odierno, Cone and Via highlighted the seminar that included discussion of national security issues at roundtables led by subject area experts.

Cadet Tyler Johnson, who was commissioned in May at Texas State University in San Marcos, said, "This has been a great experience. I really liked the speakers and their perspectives."

He is now an armor officer.

This was the 35th annual seminar hosted by the George C. Marshall Foundation for the U.S Army Cadet Command.

The Cadet Command commander, Maj. Gen. Jefforey Smith, talked with award winners and learned about their ROTC experiences.

Gen. Richard Cody, USA, Ret., a former Army vice chief of staff and a member of the Marshall Foundation Board of Trustees, served as seminar chairman.