2019 George C. Marshall conference – Cadet Williams

Each year the Golden Knight Battalion sends a Cadet to attend the George C. Marshall Conference. This year Cadet Garnett Williams represented us at this prestigious event. I asked him to write up a trip report about his experience and here it is.

From February 10-14 I had the opportunity of attending the George C. Marshall Leadership and Awards Seminar. Around 275 cadets representing every ROTC program across the country and a dozen from West Point met in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Here, we took part in seminars, round table discussions, and panels discussing geopolitical issues, the changing world of defense, and the future of the Army. These discussions were facilitated by Field Grade Officers, General Officers, Senior NCOs, and civilian defense experts.

            The firstday of the event we heard from the Cadet Command Commanding General, MajorGeneral Evans, and author P.W Singer. Major General Evans briefed on us whatthe week held for us and the importance of this for us as future warriorleaders. P.W Singer, author of Like War warned us of the collision of SocialMedia, cyber warfare, and politics. We also had a question and answer sessionwith two officers who appeared in the National Geographic documentary, Chain ofCommand. They spoke to us about the difficulties and benefits of working with aforeign military and being followed by a camera crew. The last speaker we hadthe last night of the conference was General Townsend, the Commanding Generalof Army Training and Doctrine Command. He spoke to us about our duty to beleaders and gave some advice about how to succeed as new Second Lieutenants.

            The bestpart of the conference was the round table discussions. Our room had around 15cadets and was facilitated by the professor of military science at the Universityof North Georgia, Colonel Wright. We discussed why countries went to war, whydemocracies don’t fight, and the two new battle domains; space and cyberspace.As a geology major I was able to offer insight regarding the importance ofstrategic mineral resources and the reasons Africa needs more attention andsupport from the U.S. It was great to discuss geopolitical issues with peoplewho were aware of world issues and enjoyed discussing ways to solve them.

            Thisconference was a huge learning opportunity for me. As a cadet back at Clarksonwe see when training begins to change, such as the removal of key leaderengagements (discussions with local leaders) and a greater emphasis on basicbattle drills, but never hear why it changes. This conference began to explainwhy it changed, and how we as an Army are moving away from counterinsurgencytraining to force on force, preparing to fight Great Power Competitors and NearPeer Adversaries if necessary. Beginning to understand the larger picture inwarfare is something that won’t be needed until we become Field Grade Officers,but it was great to have an insight into it. War is changing and it is up to usas Lieutenants to prepare for this by creating tough, relevant, and realistictraining. The George C. Marshall Seminar was a great experience that definitelyhelped me understand my role as a Second Lieutenant and the direction the Armyis taking in the years to come.

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