244 graduate from Air War College

by Lt. Col. Chris Karns
Air War College

6/4/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Air War College graduated 244 U.S. and international civilians and officers at it graduation ceremony May 22.

"Graduating from Air War College is a significant milestone," said Maj. Gen. Brian Bishop, commander of the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education and commandant of Air War College. "Graduates have demonstrated an ability to apply strategic thought to complex problems during a rigorous academic year. Each graduate carries forward the diverse thoughts encountered here. However, of most significance is the network of international and joint force relationships developed, which will serve the graduates and their respective nations' militaries well into the future."

Retired Gen. T. Michael Moseley, former chief of staff of the Air Force, served as the graduation's keynote speaker. Moseley focused on the complexities of today's world and the need to collectively work together to find solutions to complex global security problems.

"I would suggest that the world you are about ready to go back into is not 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,'" said Moseley. "It requires thinking. It requires some hard work. It requires some notions about the profession of arms and how we do business."

He stressed that fundamental to ensuring global security is the ability to function as a coalition team and remain ready to execute core missions.

"Your job is to be prepared to fight," said Moseley. "Your job is to be prepared to deploy and fight to defend the values you hold dear. ...This business is serious. The consequences of failure are high. The notion of being able to fight alongside coalition partners, to be able to fight within a joint community, is the way I would suggest you should think about the future."

To better understand strategic complexities, the core AWC curriculum focused on courses in strategy, leadership, national security and decision-making, warfighting, global security, and regional and cultural studies. In addition, students were required to complete a personal research project focused on areas of Department of Defense interest. Students also pursued elective courses of study across the spectrum of leadership and military activity in support of the AWC's stated mission of educating officers to serve as strategic national security leaders.

In his address, Moseley recognized the value of the AWC international fellows to the AWC curriculum and the importance of gaining their insight into the context of what is occurring in the world. He stressed how coming up with solutions relies on their perspective and, if military action is required, the ability to operate as a joint and coalition team.

"Thank you for being part of the process this year and for helping the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen of the U.S. military to better understand your country, your region, your challenges and how the world works from your view," said Moseley. "The ability to spend a year together at this school and get to know each other is an invaluable step in being able to work together, not just within the American military but on a coalition scale and across the globe."

During the academic year, students were exposed to alternate vantage points through seminar discussion, regional and cultural study, and during the 42 country presentations offered by international officers.

"This year has been about perspective," said Col. David Drichta, AWC class president. "The instructors and readings gave us a wealth and breadth of knowledge to draw from. Our classmates have enriched us with their diversity of thought and experience. Our international fellows have broadened us past the parochial and into the richness of their world views. The relationships and friendships fostered here will serve to inform our decisions and endure as we seek a lasting security for our nations and the world in the years to come."

International students also benefitted from the diversity of thought representative of the student body and faculty, providing unique insight into how to approach global security challenges.

"As an international officer, being exposed to the Air War College has been an extraordinary experience," said Italian Col. Marco Lant, AWC international fellow president. "The value of sharing vision and perspectives is definitely among the most precious outcomes of the school. The international environment and the interaction with the U.S. military provide a unique opportunity to establish relations both at the professional and personal level. Debates and lectures have provided all of us with a broader vision of current world events, and have prepared us to face the new challenges of today and complex scenarios."

The school's commandant stressed the importance of education to continuous leadership development and senior leader decision-making when addressing complex scenarios.

A significant investment has been made in each graduate, one that yields tremendous dividends for the Department of Defense, inter-agencies, and international partners in the areas of leadership enhancement and decision-making, said Bishop.

"From here, graduates will encounter many new opportunities and challenges," he said. "However, the education received at Air War College will serve them well and help their service or agency navigate through tough challenges. The school remains committed to continuing to provide alternate viewpoints, support and a reach back capability to its graduates and the nation they serve."

As the graduates prepared to take the walk across the stage to receive their diplomas and transition to new assignments, Moseley challenged each student to apply the critical thinking and AWC education to a complex global environment.

"You must be able to set the conditions and circumstances to out-think, outwit, out-train, and out-fight potential opponents," said Moseley. " ... The time is right for you to go and be creative. It is time to go out and use this education and embrace jointness, embrace coalition warfare and embrace the ability to conduct business with allies in air, space, maritime, land and in combat. You cannot flunk this. ... This is something you have to succeed in."

The AWC class of 2014 included 106 Airmen, nine Sailors, 39 Soldiers, 10 Marines and one Coast Guardsman. Additionally, there were eight from the Air Force Reserve, nine Air National Guard and 18 civilians. The class also hosted 43 international fellows from 42 countries.

Students who successfully completed master's degree requirements received a master's in strategic studies.