More than 1,000 complete ‘Best Year’ of their careers at Command and General Staff Officer Course Graduation

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – The 10-month Command and General Staff Officer Course at Command and General Staff College is often referred to as “the best year” of a student’s life.

One thousand and sixty students representing each branch of the armed forces, plus government agencies can now share stories of the best year of their careers after graduating in a ceremony June 7, 2024, at the Lewis and Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth.

Of the 1,060, 120 of those were international military students representing 93 different countries.

Those 120 students were honored in a Badge Ceremony prior to graduation where they were presented with their exclusive CGSC International Military Student pin, only given to graduates of the program. More than 8,700 international students have graduated CGSC.

“As your countries confront the challenges of the 21st Century, your mental agility and adaptability, honed through this institution’s educational process, will prove indispensable in securing your nations’ futures,” Dr. Dave Cotter, dean of academics, CGSC, said.

Guest speaker, Gen. Gary Brito, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, also a CGSOC graduate, explained how “the best year of his life” looked a little different.

Brito was one of the final CGSOC classes to complete their course at Bell Hall, the previous home to CGSC, 25 years ago.

He explained the location was not the only thing changed since he was a student.

“You benefitted from CGSC’s innovative and adaptive approach towards teaching and learning,” he said. “You have the benefit of thinking through a way to fight in a modern environment on terrain unlike any we’ve encountered in almost 80 years.”

As the Army’s newest “iron majors” expectations of the graduates are much different than their peers, Brito explained.

He encouraged the Class of 2024 to lean into using their new skills to set their units, who are looking to them to lead, for success through key character traits like selflessness, trust, mastery of their trade, and competence.

“You must set conditions for success, to ensure troops are brilliant at the basics, and your leaders have space to think, decide, and be agile enough to adapt to an ever-changing environment,” Brito said. “…But most importantly, go out there and be the professional leader our service members deserve. At the end of the day, there is no substitution for good leadership, and competence in your skill set at your grade, and level of responsibility.”

The 10-month Command and General Staff Officer Course develops war-fighting and adaptive leadership skills necessary for military officers to be proficient in Unified Land Operations. The College is an educational center of excellence renowned in the study of leadership, the conduct of joint and combined land warfare, and the application of Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational organizations to synchronize all elements of power to achieve national objectives.

A testament to the professional leaders the CGSOC graduates represent, 53 were recognized for completing their Master of Military Arts and Science degrees.

Students earn this master’s degree by successful completion of the Command and General Staff Officer Course, successful completion of an oral comprehensive exam, and writing and orally defending a thesis based on original research.

The remaining students were conferred Master in Operational Studies degrees.

More than a dozen students were recognized for various awards from best MMAS thesis to best physical fitness scores.

The distinguished graduates recognized on stage during the graduation ceremony were:

Maj. Marc Beaudoin; General George C. Marshall Award and Arter-Doniphan Award

Maj. Nicholas Barber (Australia): Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower Award and Brig. Gen. Benjamin H. Grierson Award

Maj. William Happel (United Kingdom: Gen. Douglas MacArthur Military Leadership Writing Award

Maj. Alex Gordon: Arter-Darby Military History Writing Award

Lt. Col. Wilfredo Velez-Rodriguez: Gen. John J. Pershing Award

Maj. John Bergman and Maj. Kaitlyn Hernandez: Iron Major Awards

Maj. Lauren Ward: Women, Peace, and Security Award

Lt. Col. Dallas Cheatam, Dr. Tony Carlson, Mr. Allan Boyce: Military and Civilian Educators of the Year

Maj. Michael Zequeira: Excellence in Information Warfare Writing Award

Maj. Hannah Smith: Lt. Col. Boyd McCanna Harris Leadership Award

Maj. Catherine Deeter: Birrer-Brookes Award for Outstanding MMAS Thesis

Lt. Col. Mofareh Alsubaei (Saudi Arabia): Maj. Gen. Hans Schlup Award

Maj. Jerry Randolph: Maj. Gen. James Wright Award

Maj. Alexander Alpert: Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. Award

Maj. James Kovell: Homeland Security Studies Award

Maj. Jason Stewart (USAF): Excellence in Joint Service Warfare Award

Maj. Kenneth Russell: Father Donald W. Smythe Military History Award

Maj. Collin Hayward: Simons Center Interagency Writing Award

Additional photos of the Badge and CGSOC Graduation ceremonies can be found on CGSC’s Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacgsc/albums