ROTC and West Point Cadets Have Opportunity To Learn, Ask Questions
by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command
May 21, 2019
Top ROTC and West Point Cadets from across the country recently
had the opportunity to learn from peers and Army leaders during the
2019 George C. Marshall Seminar at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas February
ROTC and West Point Cadets from across the country had the
opportunity to ask Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S.
Army Cadet Command, questions during the 2019 George C.
Marshall Seminar at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in February
11-13, 2019. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from photos by Michael Maddox, U.S. Army Cadet Command)
The week was highlighted by speakers, panel discussions and small
group sessions, but it began with a welcome by Maj. Gen. John Evans,
commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command.
“One of the true
highlights of my job is to participate in events like this where I
have the opportunity to engage with you – future Army officers. Your
presence here today signifies that you’re not only good at serving,
you are committed to leading from the front with an eye towards
excellence,” he said. “You’ve been selected from among your peers
because of your dedication and commitment to excellence.”
“Whether you are here as a cadet or cadre member, you’ll be
surrounded by some of our nation’s best and brightest leaders. I
encourage you, no matter your rank, to take advantage of the
opportunity to share and learn from your teammates,” he said. “We
crafted this conference with the thought of how to give you a little
something extra. What we want you focused on, whether you’re a West
Point Cadet or an ROTC cadet, is the basic blocking and tackling of
what leadership is, and what’s going to be expected of you when you
become second lieutenants.”
Evans said one of best ways to
grow and prepare for leadership is to learn from others.
most important take away from this symposium will be the
peer-to-peer sharing and interfacing with a multitude of leaders in
thought and practice,” he said. “The real takeaway should be how to
interact with leaders and how you as a second lieutenant must seek
to lead with confidence and wisdom. You must also seek others to
whom you can turn for guidance.”
He added, that drive to seek
guidance and advice shouldn’t stop at the end of the conference.
“I believe mentorship is a covenant between two people – a
person who is desiring an opportunity to grow and better themselves
and a person who wants to give back based on what they’ve learned
and what they’ve done,” Evans said. “Go out there and find someone
who is going to invest in you and take time to make sure you’re
providing feedback as well.”
Jacob Adel, from University of
Arkansas, said he feels more at ease with the responsibility of
being a new officer knowing he won’t be in it alone.
think this has better prepared me to be a competent and adaptable
leader for when I go into the Army,” he said. “I think the advice
about finding a mentor, both above and below you, was really useful.
I think it would be beneficial to find someone to be mentoring and
have someone who has been in your shoes mentoring you.”
matter how prepared a leader is, there will still be times they are
tested and it’s how they handle those tests that matter, Evans said.
“Bad things will happen to good leaders – always. If you think
being a good leader will keep bad things from happening to your
organization, you’re mistaken,” he shared. “You won’t be judged by
the fact that bad things happen, you will be evaluated on how you
respond to that. You’ll be evaluated by your chain of command and
you’ll be evaluated by your Soldiers.
“If you create an
environment where people who are doing the right thing can go out
and make honest mistakes and work with that, then I think you’ll
have a great organization,” Evans added. “If you have an
organization where mistakes aren’t tolerated, I think you’ll
During his welcome, Evans also took questions from
Cadets about various topics like diversity in the Army.
will tell you that we have work to do. It’s very important for each
and every one of you – as young officers who understand what the
Army is and who understand intrinsically the value of selfless
service and serving the nation – to go out there and find people of
color, people of different genders, people of different beliefs.
That’s what enriches our Army,” he said. “If we get into this group
think that we all have to look the same and think the same, we are
short selling ourselves. We have to make sure the Army looks as much
like America as we can make it.”
He was also asked how to
best deal with perceived toxic leadership.
“You’re going to
work with someone you don’t really agree with; that’s just going to
happen. The bottom line is he or she is the boss and you’re a new
lieutenant. That doesn’t mean they’re a toxic leader,” Evans
advised. “They may not be as malleable as you would like them to be.
They may not do as much group hugging as you would like to have.
They may be able to hear your ideas on some things. But the bottom
line is that isn’t toxic leadership. If you’re under toxic
leadership it will be apparent in the morale of the unit, in the way
the people address the boss, the way the boss addresses the
subordinates, and I think we have done a pretty good job of holding
people accountable in the Army.”
Cadets in the audience were
very interested in guidance on how to be successful leaders. Evans
shared several tips with them.
“You have to develop your own
leadership style as you develop in the Army. You have to determine
what you think works best for you,” he said. “That’s one of the hard
parts of leadership, you have to sort of feel that out. I always
thought a more open approach worked well for me.”
senior you become, you’ll be able to pick out the good leaders. They
are the ones taking care of their folks, doing the right thing,
working through the process, bringing the unit together,” Evans
added. “It comes down to figuring out who is doing things for the
team and who is kind of a spotlight ranger. To me, a leader is the
person who is quietly and humbly bringing the team together, lifting
everyone up, who carries the commander’s intent forward and makes it
Evans closed out his time by reminding the cadets
they will not be alone as leaders, they will have a platoon sergeant
to help them along.
“You’re going to have a member of your
leadership team who knows your formation, knows your Soldiers, and
knows your squad leaders. They’re someone you can talk to when
making decisions. Ultimately, you’re going to be the leader and they
expect you to lead,” Evans said. “The challenge is you may feel a
little overwhelmed because you don’t have a lot of experience and
that’s understandable. But look at this as an advantage: here you
have someone who has been in the Army 11, 12, 13 years, who is going
to be able to coach you as to what this team is like. So lean on
Grace Lawrence, from the University of Kansas, said
the advice Evans provided gave her a better grasp of what to expect
once she graduates and is sent to her first unit.
given me a broader perspective on what I am actually here for rather
than just focusing on my tasks and the things I will be doing each
day,” she said. “I have a better understanding on who I will be
working for and what I will be doing.”
U.S. Army Cadet
Command oversees the Army’s senior and Junior ROTC programs. The
Army ROTC program provides more college scholarships than any other
program in America, with merit-based benefits going to about 15K
students each year. The total amount of scholarship benefits paid
this year currently stands at over $370M. It commissions more than
70 percent of the Army’s new officers each year through host ROTC
programs at 274 host universities at nearly 1,000 affiliated
programs at other colleges across the nation.
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