Story and photos by Mike Strasser
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 14, 2014) — Upon meeting the new cadet chain of command, Brig. Gen. John Thomson mentioned something he had in common with all of them.
“As commandant, there’s only one thing I owe the Corps, and that’s good leadership,” Thomson said. “That’s the same thing you all owe to the Corps.”
More than 30 Class of 2015 cadets gathered at Eisenhower Hall Aug. 9 for Key Leader Development Training where they discussed plans for the academic year.
Class of 2015 Cadet Austin Welch, having earned the highest rank in the Corps of Cadets as brigade commander, said the KLDT provided time to develop a shared vision and collaborate on ways they will lead the Corps.
“What we’re doing right now is brainstorming what we think is important heading into the new academic year—what our vision and mission are—together as a brigade team to include all our regiments,” Welch said. “The focus is on cohesion and team-building, learning how we’re going to work together with the most effective means for us to communicate, cooperate and collaborate moving forward.”
Welch said there’s an advantage to having worked with many of the same cadets before, especially during summer leadership details. Welch, as commander of the first iteration of Cadet Basic Training, worked closely with his CBT1 executive officer, Class of 2015 Cadet Cort Thompson, who now serves as the brigade’s honor captain. Class of 2015 Cadet Amy Saxton was the CBT1 regimental command sergeant major and now leads 3rd Regiment.
“There’s definitely a lot of familiar faces here, and what that means is that we know what makes each other tick,” Welch said. “Even if we hadn’t worked together in the same detail we’ve all seen similar challenges so that will allow us to work together more effectively.” Class of 2015 Cadet Melissa Yasnowski served as commander of Cadet Field Training this summer and is now the brigade executive officer. Class of 2015 Cadet Nicholas Pappas was on her command team as the CFT command sergeant major and is now the brigade’s CSM.Thomson spoke with them individually and as a group, leaving them with some advice. “Peer leadership has its own unique characteristics and challenges that you’re going to grapple with. That’s OK,” Thomson said. “Lead the way you want to be led and follow the same way you want to be followed and be a team player.” By the end of the weekend, they were tasked with creating a plan to present academy leadership with specific goals for the academic year. One of the themes developed during KLDT was transparent communication within the Corps. When cadets are given a task to perform they should also know why, and that’s what leadership should provide, Welch said. Other themes include the development of a winning spirit and creating a culture of respect.
Photos of the new chain of command on the USMA Flickr page: www.flickr.com/photos/west_point/sets/72157646404474186/