GRAFENWOEHR, Germany –
Thirty-eight students from U.S. Army Europe, Central and Africa graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officers Course Common Core May 17, here, at the Grafenwoehr Performing Arts Center.
The 7th Intermediate Level Education Detachment, 7th Mission Support Command, hosted the graduation ceremony that included a commencement address given by Maj. Gen. Todd B. McCaffrey, Chief of Staff, U.S. Africa Command.
“Intermediate Level Education is our Army’s first real investment of professional education aimed at teaching about the operational and strategic levels of war and national defense,” said McCaffrey.
ILE is part of the Command and General Staff Officers Course, which includes completion of the common core curriculum and required career field, branch, and functional area training and education.
The 7th ILE DET, one of three U.S. Army Reserve ILE units, offers the common core portion of ILE every year in Grafenwoehr to promotable captains and majors from every Army component. This year’s class graduated officers from both the active duty and reserve component and one Army civilian.
The goal is to attract students who are deployed or are operating in Army Africa, Army Central and Army Europe areas of responsibility because it’s closer and it saves the Army a PCS, said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Michael Hiller, 7th ILE DET commander.
“It may be easier on the family or on someone’s particular situation,” said Hiller. “They can complete the common core here and then since they’re in the Department of Distance Education, they can then go do the Advanced Operations Course stateside, if necessary.”
Through the 7th ILE DET program, the typical four-month common core curriculum is spread out over the course of a year with both online distance learning and three phases of classroom instruction, strategically scheduled to avoid U.S. Army Europe major exercises. This helps increase student enrollment, said Hiller.
Phase I of the classroom instruction is two weeks in July at the start of each course. Phase II is divided into two nine-day sessions, one in November and one in February. Phase III is another two weeks in either May or June, ending with graduation.
“The phased nature of this curriculum allows you to iteratively take what you learn in the seminar and apply it to challenges in your commands or civilian endeavors,” said McCaffrey. “As graduates, you will continue to capitalize on both the educational aspects of this program and the real world application you’ve been able to see through the course phases,” he added.
Hiller said this particular class was unique because it had a diverse group across the Army career fields and the officer corps.
“We don’t train, we educate. We want to always remind our students of biases, to back up what they learn with facts and to do their own analysis of problems,” said Hiller. “This class did extremely well with going after our tactical and operational problems that we presented to them.”
“I enjoyed the opportunity to actually complete common core right here where I work,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Kevin Hovan, a course graduate and chaplain with USAG Bavaria. “One of the great things is just getting together with people from other branches and sharing knowledge, sharing experience and building bonds that we’re going to keep for probably the rest of our lives.”
The class instructors are all U.S. Army Reserve officers that serve up to five years with the 7th. Hiller, who instructed ILE stateside for five years before taking command, says they’re all managing talent at the field-grade level for the U.S. Army.
“My ILE experience was my first real exposure to working closely with my reserve component counterparts and the role our reserve component plays in the total Army,” said McCaffrey. “That exposure and insight has served me well ever since, to include my time commanding one of First Army’s two divisions.”
Hiller hopes to increase enrollment of the annual course to 64 students and transition to a joint, multi-national classroom.
“We want to provide our commanders more educated majors in theater,” said Hiller. “It’s a rewarding job and it’s giving back to the Army. And it’s the reserve component giving back to Army Europe.”