Army Secretary McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Dempsey Highlight 34th Marshall Army ROTC Awards Seminar

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US Army Cadet Command and the George C. Marshall Foundation held the 34th annual Cadet Command Marshall Army ROTC Awards and Leadership seminar in Lexington, Virginia that was attended by some of the top cadets in the United States and visited by senior military and civilian leaders.

You have to feel the continuity of what you are doing.

No stranger to the Cadet Command Marshall Army ROTC Awards and Leadership Seminar, General Martin E. Dempsey, who is the new Chief of Staff of the Army, said, “You have to feel the continuity of what you are doing.” He referred to himself as 37—short for the 37th Chief of Staff—because he said he has joined a long line of those who have come before him and he respects that continuity.

General Dempsey was on hand to kick off the 34th Marshall Awards Seminar on April 18 along with cadets selected from 273 ROTC units throughout the U.S. He congratulated them on the award that he described as empowering and at the same time a burden. “You will (soon) have a team that will rely on you for leadership,” he told these soon-to-be-commissioned officers.

Dempsey said when he became chief of staff, he understood intellectually the position he was accepting, but he made a point to go to Arlington National Cemetery to get “a feel” for the job. He encouraged the cadets to use this time to get a “feel for the profession” and the enormous responsibility that will be placed in their hands.

He advised his audience to seek mastery: “master the weapons system, master team building, master small unit tactics and then fall in love with your soldiers.” He said mastery of one thing, at least, is a key to success, so pick something and master it. And then he said, “You can work on the three things you cannot buy--trust, fitness and discipline--when you find you have a free minute. And you won’t have many of those.”

Secretary McHugh, referring frequently to General George Marshall’s admonition to learn from the lessons of history, said the Army that’s now in transition must adapt to diminishing resources and a new kind of enemy. He was confident the institution would adapt, as it has many times before. “We can out fight any enemy. We must now out think them,” he said. He said, now more than in the recent past, the Army must educate its soldiers and leaders, and train and retrain them for evolving missions.

In addition to interacting with top Army officials, such as Secretary McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Dempsey, cadets participated in roundtable discussions with subject matter experts on leading issues such as national security, global terrorism, peace keeping, and foreign and military affairs in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf region, and Africa as well as ethics and leadership.

Also the cadets attended one of three virtual staff rides (VSRs) offered by the Marshall Foundation and the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute to recreate actual combat situations that were discussed in small groups in order to present leadership challenges.    

The cadets’ immersion into issues and their exposure to contemporary civilian and military leaders at a high level afford unique opportunities they have not received during their ROTC training.

The cadets observed a full-dress parade by the VMI Corps of Cadets on the VMI parade ground as well as listened to remarks by Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general, U.S. Army Accessions Command; Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, commanding general, U.S. Army Cadet Command; Brig. Gen. Donald B. Rutherford, U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains; Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Wagner, the first commander of Cadet Command, and Army CSM Michael W. Williams, Joint Forces Headquarters, National Capital Region.

Gen. Freakley entreated the cadets to be first and foremost leaders of character, then to apply themselves to their training. “From here on forward there will be no breaks. Immerse yourself in your training.” He encouraged them to be “tactically fit, spiritually fit and physically fit.” And then “go forward not to be served but to serve.”

Gen. Wagner, who was the first commanding general of Cadet Command, gave a spirited talk and then was recognized for his long service and devotion to the Army with a citation read by his VMI classmate and friend Harry Warner.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, USA (Ret.), former Army Vice Chief of Staff who is now corporate vice president for L-3 Communications, chaired the seminar.

The George C. Marshall Foundation preserves, protects and promotes the example of General George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the Army who led the allied victory during World War II, and the Secretary of State following that war who executed the Marshall Plan to restore the economies of Europe.

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