Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series at West Point
Story and photo by Michelle Eberhart
WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 10, 2016) - Lt. Gen. James I. Bashall, CBE, The Adjutant-General to the Forces, British Army came to West Point on March 9-10 to speak during the 70th annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series. The purpose of the visit was to enhance the close relationship between the military forces of the United States and the United Kingdom.
Aside from fostering a better understanding between the two militaries, the annual series educates cadets in international affairs and relations.
Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, Jr. introduced the oration by explaining the history of the Kermit Roosevelt Lecture series to the audience of junior cadets.
The lecture series is named after Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Kermit Roosevelt, who began his military career during World War I with the British Army in Mesopotamia. Once the United States joined the war, he fought with the American Army. Roosevelt died in 1943 while on active duty in Alaska.
In 1944, his widow wrote to Gen. George Marshall, the Army Chief of Staff at the time, recommending an annual exchange of military lectures in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In her letter she explained that her late husband strongly believed, “a better understanding between military forces in the United States and United Kingdom would contribute in large measure to the preservation of world peace.”
This year was the 70th anniversary of the lecture series.
The British speaker visits the U.S. Army War College, Armed Forces Staff College, (in addition to the Command and General Staff College), and of course, the U.S. Military Academy.
The American speaker speaks at the Military College of Sciences, the Royal Military Academy, the Joint Services Defence College and the Ministry of Defence.
Lt. Gen. Bashall’s Lecture
The topic of Lt. Gen. Bashall’s lecture was, “Today’s Soldier—Dealing with the Moral and Ethical Challenges in times of Uncertainty.”
To break down the theme of uncertainty, Bashall addressed three truisms which he believes have the largest impact on modern day Soldiers: Expecting the unexpected, the military getting involved after an event, and wherever the Army goes, the world’s media will be there.
“I’ve worn this uniform for 34 years and during that time, a number of events have happened in the world,” Bashall said to begin his point. “In 1982, the Argentinians invaded the Falklands. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, the Warsaw pact collapsed. In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I probably don’t need to tell you what happened on 9/11. Then, in the spring of 2011, we had the start of the so-called Spring Uprising.”
Bashall insisted that the one thing that links these things together is that they’re unexpected, Bashall’s first truism, expect the unexpected.
“What happens after an event?” Bashall asked. “They look to the military to try to solve the problem.”
Bashall said the United States Army and the British Army work in tandem to form solutions to the unexpected problems.
“After an event, we are going to get involved,” Bashall proclaimed his second truism. “At readiness, we spend a lot of time thinking about equipment, doctrine and training,” Bashall mentioned. “And my proposition to you is that we do not spend enough time preparing our people for dealing with the uncertainty and short notice deployments, so I would contend we need to do more in terms of ethical preparation.”