GRAFENWOEHR, Germany –
Thirty-two field grade officers graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officers Course Common Core on June 26, coming together from behind computers in five different countries to celebrate their yearlong training that culminated under the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s class included students from U.S. Army Europe, Central and Africa and the U.S. Navy in the first-ever multi-service cohort with two Navy lieutenant commanders.
The 7th Intermediate Level Education Detachment, 7th Mission Support Command, hosted the all-virtual platform graduation ceremony that included a commencement address given by Maj. Gen. Todd B. McCaffrey, U.S. Africa Command chief of staff in his last official act on active duty.
“Your completion of the ILE common core marks your attainment of a capstone-level intermediate field grade education and sets you clearly onward toward emergence of the strategic leaders of our joint force in the coming decade,” 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 and the only ILE option in Europe, offers the common core portion of ILE every year in Grafenwoehr to promotable captains and majors. This year’s class graduated officers from every Army component along with the two Navy officers.
“While this course is an Army program, it relies on a joint framework and each of you from here on will find yourselves increasingly operating with sister services,” said McCaffrey. “The fact that this class has two officers representing the maritime component of military power is a testament to that fact.”
Being authorized to include two Navy students for a one-time exception to policy was a critical opportunity that allowed the 7th ILE DET to build two multi-service or joint staff groups essential to preparing the European theater, said U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Michael Hiller, 7th ILE DET commander.
“We must adjust our school quota system to create joint staff groups…our Army Service Component Commanders deserve field grade officers educated in joint and multinational staff groups,” said Hiller. “Our two Navy students educated their Army classmates on maritime doctrine and shared countless personal experiences at sea.”
Hiller says the 7th ILE DET is following the Army Strategy, published in 2018, to build intellectual capital and interoperability with sister services, allies, and partners to prepare field grade officers for great power competition.
“Your focus now, as many of you are veterans of the global war on terror, is on the reemergence of pure competitors and great power of competition,” said McCaffrey. “I would offer that you are well-prepared to confront those challenges with the skills you’ve acquired through this program.”
After a year of both distance learning and phases of classroom instruction, and culminating under a global pandemic, the 7th ILE DET-led virtual graduation went off without a hitch.
“Our instructors are non-resident adjunct faculty members and have years of experience delivering curriculum (online) so all we did was slightly adjust our delivery techniques and move from our physical classrooms to virtual classrooms,” said Hiller. “Very little changed for us.”
As Hiller looks to the future of ILE in Europe, which starts again this July, another major first is in the works as three international military students are scheduled for Phase I.
“Once again, 7th ILE DET is advancing the Army Strategy and Army Europe's lines of effort to prepare the theater and educate field grade officers in Joint and Army doctrine,” said Hiller.