CARLISLE, Penn. — The Chief of Army Reserve challenged the newest members of the alumni ‘club’ during the graduation ceremony for the Army War College Class of 2013 distance education program.
Graduation speaker Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley challenged the graduates to seek assignments outside of their comfort zone.
“Figure out how you can be a better, broader leader,” he said, challenging the graduates to step out of their comfort zones. “Serve in the interagency … serve out of your regiment … serve outside of your component … serve outside of your Service – and America and the Armed Forces will be better served for you doing so.”
Talley, a 2003 graduate of the program, recounted lessons of the past 10 years since he sat where the graduates sat today.
“This is the same challenge that was issued to my class of 2003 by Secretary [Colin] Powell … Work to broaden your leadership by taking tough assignments that make you do something different," he said.
Talley talked about an unplanned job at the J5 War on Terrorism Directorate, after graduation. Though challenging, the experience working as the only non special operator helped him further develop as a leader, he said.
Talley closed with congratulations for the class of 348, which included 126 Army Reserve officers.
“Although the world is still a dangerous and complex place, I find assurance and comfort and am humbled by the presence of so many great leaders,” he said to the graduates.
Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, Army War College Commandant, also spoke. He acknowledged the two arduous years of their studies, preparing students for their role as the next wave of strategic leadership for the nation.
“I hope all of you – students and Family Members feel as though it is worth it,” he said. “Economic, governmental, and national security organizations at the strategic level are being presented with some of the most complex issues and challenges our nation and her Armed Forces have faced in decades.
“Be prepared to use your newly acquired, sophisticated intellectual skills,” he said. “We need you – and you are ready.
"Be brave in the often gray and ambiguous environment of service at the strategic level,” said Cucolo. “Expect your moral courage to be tested -- frequently -- and recognize that exercising such courage often comes with personal and professional risk. You know how strongly I feel about this -- in the twisting and turning and uncertain strategic environment ahead, always stay on the moral high ground. If you do, you will always be in the right place.
"From your vantage point of the moral high ground … you will be content and confident knowing you have been true to yourself and those who have trusted you with their lives,” he said.
The majority of colonels and lieutenant colonels in the student body have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, or multiple deployments. Their ranks were enhanced by senior civilians with national security responsibilities. They’ve exchanged perspectives and created friendships during the two-year course with fellow leaders from Canada, Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova.