New challenges await graduating cadets, XVIII ABN Corps CG tells cadets
Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 4, 2013) — Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C., and a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, visited West Point Nov. 21, attended classes and lectured the Class of 2014 in Robinson Auditorium.
Anderson participated and spoke with the Class of 2017 in Maj. Mike Erwin’s PL100, General Psychology for Leaders class. The subject for this class was prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping. In keeping with the subject matter, Anderson spoke to the class about women and combat.
“How do you think we got to where women are going into combat arms,” Anderson asked. “How do we think we got to where we are today?
“This is a modular Army, and an all-volunteer Army, but it’s more because they (women) proved they are capable,” he said.
Anderson explained that having a modular Army means a Soldier will not necessarily deploy with the unit they were assigned.
“You’re taken from someplace or unit—of whatever size, company, detachment or brigade—so now you have an asymmetric battlefield,” Anderson said. “You have people all over the place. So now there is no front line, so all of a sudden you had women in engineering, in artillery and as military police.
“I had an MP detachment from Fort Bragg, N.C.,” Anderson added. “One was a female. She was tough, capable and qualified, and she taught me a lot. I was in the Army 20-plus years before I had a woman in my formation. You’re brought up in an all-male society, and now you have to make that adjustment that will require you to readjust your head.”
Anderson asked the class, both male and female cadets, about what they think about women leading an Infantry battalion.
“How do you think Soldiers underneath her will respond,” Anderson asked. “She will have to prove herself, lead by example and follow those leadership principles of not asking someone to do something you won’t do.”
Anderson spoke about how male Soldiers think about women as Soldiers and asked cadets what differences they see. One male cadet said that emotions are different, while another said hormones are also different.
“How do you take care of yourself in the field? Let’s say you are in an Infantry platoon. There are solar showers, or you are in the jungle, what do you think you do in the jungle? You get naked and get in the stream,” Anderson said, elliciting laughter in the classroom.
Other possible issues with women Anderson spoke about was the possibility of another Soldier getting close to a female or attached to her, and if a situation gets dangerous, will that be a distraction?
Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, spoke with cadets in two forums Nov. 21.
"It's a real issue," Anderson said.
Later that afternoon, Anderson spoke to the Class of 2014 at Robinson Auditorium about what to expect when they face the Army of the future.
“You are going to be second lieutenants and you have to know the big picture, and I want you to know what you want to know about the Army,” Anderson said. “Understand what you are going to see in the Army. It is criminals, it is terrorism and it is corruption. The fight will be transitional and the threat is migratory.”Anderson said it might start with the Muslim brotherhood in Libya and Egypt and start to spread, which is what he is seeing now in Syria.
“Understand what you are going to see is important to you,” he said. “You will see terrorism; the rise in power of failing states will always be an issue. Resources are going to be challenging for every country out there. It is important for you to see what is going on. Understand what you are going to walk into politically through sequestration, which you will probably see for the first couple of years of your lieutenancy.”
Anderson said that there will be other conflicts and the way the Army fights will be different.
There is going to be increased disparity in many countries. And how the Army fights in that country depends on what kind of outfit a Soldier is in. It will be a small force, attack, defense and support operations.
“You won’t just be putting down insurgency, like what we have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan these last 12 years,” Anderson said. “Many brigades will be associated with geography, you understand languages, and you understand cultures, geography and association of forces that could be in Africa, Europe or the Pacific.”
Anderson said despite sequestrations, it is the officer’s duty to keep his or her head above all of that and take care of his or her people, which will impact resources.
“Depending on what division you go to, when you graduate here, not everyone will be funded, equipped or trained at the same level based on what your forecasted mission is, career rotations and the global response force,” Anderson said.