Brigadier General Sean MacFarland changed the fate of Iraq when he implemented the unprecedented Sunni Tribal Engagement strategy. In less than a year he helped turn the most hostile province of Al Anbar into the most peaceful, which was then replicated across the country. General MacFarland was the catalyst in the Iraqi "Awakening Council" that changed the course of the country... and history (here is an impressive account.)
"In a crisis, the president always asks, 'where are the aircraft carriers?' In the Army, leaders ask, 'Where are the SAMS graduates?' Just as the aircraft carrier was a game changer in naval warfare, SAMS graduates and practitioners of operational art have been game changers in land warfare." General MacFarland
As a graduate of the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) and the School for the Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) himself, I see his point. General MacFarland is now the Deputy Command General of the Combined Arms Center (CAC) and Deputy Commandant of the CGSC. He is responsible for the education of our future military leaders at the CGSC, SAMS, School for Command Preparation, and Defense Language Institute.
I spent the day at a National Security Roundtable with General MacFarland and some SAMS students at the CGSC recently (picture above with General Farland, myself, and former CGSC Commander General Arter) and wanted to share some of the experience with you. Thanks to the CGSC Foundation for hosting the event. Brigadier General MacFarland discusses this CGSC institute which has greatly impacted world history (today's topic,) how the military has changed from the Vietnam era, and the leadership strategies used by the CGSC, in our three part interview series.
Gabrielle Reilly: What is the role of the US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas?
General Sean MacFarland: The US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) educates officers in the values and attitudes of the profession of arms and in the conduct of military operations in peace and war. It prepares officers for duty as field grade commanders and staff officers, primarily at brigade, division, and corps echelons.
Gabrielle Reilly: Who are some of the more well known graduates?
General Sean MacFarland: Generals of the Army George Marshall, 1908; Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1926; Omar Bradley, 1929; and General of the Air Force Henry Arnold, 1929 graduated from CGSC. Other notable graduates include Generals Matthew Ridgeway, 1935; Creighton Abrams, 1949; Colin Powell, 1968; H. Norman Schwarzkopf, 1968; and David Petraeus, 1983.
In addition to the several distinguished US graduates, there are a number of international graduates of renown. The current King of Bahrain (Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa), current President of Indonesia (Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono), and current Prime Minister of Singapore (Lee Hsein Loong) are graduates; and the current President of Rwanda (Paul Kagame) attended the college (as a Ugandan Army officer) before being recalled to support operational requirements. On 5 May 2011, he became the first African president to be interviewed on YouTube Worldview: https://www.youtube.com/worldview.
Gabrielle Reilly: Can you tell our readers about the School for Advanced Military Strategy (SAMS)?
General Sean MacFarland: SAMS educates members of our Armed Forces, our Allies, and other government agencies to become agile and adaptive leaders who are critical and creative thinkers that produce viable options to solve operational and strategic problems. SAMS conducts two education programs: the Advanced Operational Arts Studies Fellowship (AOASF) and the Advanced Military Studies Program (AMSP). Both programs result in the award of a Master's degree.
The AOASF is an Army Senior Service College Fellowship with a mission to educate the future leaders of our Armed Forces, our Allies, and other federal agencies. This program is designed to develop theater level senior leaders and general staff officers as well as prepare AMSP faculty.
The AMSP mission is to educate members of our Armed Forces, our Allies, and the other federal agencies at the graduate level to become agile and adaptive leaders. The AMSP is a course for field grade officers, generally at the rank of major. All are volunteers who compete for selection during a rigorous screening process. Upon graduation, the officers will serve in key positions across the Army.
The first SAMS class graduated on May 24, 1984, with 13 students. Since then, the Army has grown the program to a potential total of 144 students each year. The AOASF is a single seminar of 16 student officers and runs during the summer. Each course is structured to have a student mix of US Army, other US Armed Services, International Military Students, and as available Inter-Agency personnel.
Gabrielle Reilly: After completing SAMS, what is the role and responsibility of SAMS Officers within the military?
General Sean MacFarland: Graduates are generally assigned to key staff positions in division, corps, Army Service Component Commands, or equivalent type headquarters in the other Services, International Military HQs, or other government agencies. Graduates play a key role in these organizations to help the leaders of the various commands solve operational problems and develop the plans for the chosen solution. Fundamentally, we expect our graduates to be good leaders, competent operational planners, and great teammates.
Gabrielle Reilly: Tell us about the International Military Officer program you provide at the CGSC and the ways it has impacted international affairs.
General Sean MacFarland: International Military Student participation in cooperative military studies in the United States originated at Fort Leavenworth with the arrival of Swiss Lieutenant Henri Le Comte in 1894. Since then, international students have become an integral part of the "Fort Leavenworth Experience" and close to 7,500 international officers have studied alongside their U.S. counterparts. These talented military officers and their families (representing 157 countries to date) make an incalculable contribution to a professional military and cultural exchange environment we believe to be unmatched anywhere in the world. In addition to the notable international participants mentioned earlier - at any given time there are (on average) 10 or more international graduates serving as heads of their respective national army or military. These senior leaders are the product of a significant investment by their respective governments, in their development as flexible, adaptive leaders who possess critical skill sets refined at CGSC. Equally important is the fact that these leaders and their families lived with us, here in the "Heartland" - residing in the Army's Best Hometown. As a result, they come to know us as friends and neighbors - something that cannot be achieved in any other way. We know that the type of relationships built here often span lifetimes - and we are convinced that they positively contribute to increased understanding, conflict prevention, and an increased respective for individual human rights.
Continue on for Part 2 of General MacFarland's interview on the ways the military has changed since the Vietnam era.