By: Jake McCollum
Fort Knox (July 28, 2015) – Cadets rarely have the opportunity to speak with senior officers outside of their home battalions. These senior officers have the experience and knowledge that can greatly help both cadets and new 2nd Lt.’s in making career choices and on leadership techniques. 6th Regiment of Cadet Initial Entry Training got the rare opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, the Deputy Inspector General of the Army.
“I’m a graduation requirement,” Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith joked to the excited 6th Regiment after he walked into the Olive Theatre on Wednesday night. “You don’t blow by me, you don’t graduate.”
Maj. Gen. Smith has an impressive service record, including time spent as a chemical corps officer and then a field artillery officer, with awards including the expert parachutists’ badge, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf cluster, and the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. He enthusiastically addressed the cadets, asking them to state their name and ‘what they want to be when they grow up’ before asking their question.
“I want to change the world,” one cadet replied. “I thought the Army would be a good start, sir.”
A big part of the Maj. Gen.’s talk was allaying fears that the cadets may harbor about the responsibilities that they will eventually assume.
“[Imagine] you’re about to be a 2nd Lt,” Maj. Gen. Smith said. “Seems pretty daunting, doesn’t it? Don’t worry about it…the Army’s been around 240 years…I think we’ve got the technique down.”
What Smith did not do is give the cadets permission to be lax in their duties.
“Every day from the day you leave here to the day you commission to the day you take off this uniform, you need to think, have you done everything you can to prepare your unit…to execute its mission?” He adamantly reinforced his point. “Whatever your branch, kick butt…You gotta be all in in all that you do.”
Motivation was a large part of the event, and the Maj. Gen. made sure to motivate the cadets at every opportunity. Outside, thunder and rain shook the theater and even shut down the power to the building at one point, but both cadets and speaker remained energetic throughout the event.
“Trust the system, treat people with dignity and respect, and listen to your NCO’s,” Maj. Gen. Smith told 6th Regiment.
With only five days left at Fort Knox, 6th Regiment is excited to prepare for Family Day and Graduation. Soon they will be back at their home battalions and the ever-constant cycle of training will begin again, this time with a month of experience in Army Training under their belts. For some, it will be the first year in a program designed to change lives and forge Army officers.
For all, it will the beginning of another proud year as an ROTC cadet.