Cadets prepare to lead in a global society

UNG partners with international universities and military academies to provide opportunities for military exchanges, internships and conferences that send UNG cadets around the world and bring international cadets to Dahlonega.

The nation’s military forces and security agencies are seeking leaders with a range of knowledge and experience who also understand an interconnected world. That makes UNG’s mission to produce leaders for a diverse and global society more vital than ever.

In the 2015 U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff report, “The National Military Strategy (NMS) of the United States of America,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, stressed the need for a globally engaged military.

“The 2015 NMS continues the call for greater agility, innovation and integration,” Dempsey wrote. “It reinforces the need for the U.S. military to remain globally engaged to shape the security environment and to preserve our network of alliances. It echoes previous documents in noting the imperative within our profession to develop leaders of competence, character and consequence.”

Keith Antonia, associate vice president for military programs at UNG, said the university is working to prepare graduates to lead soldiers in uncertain global environments.“As graduates of UNG, our commissioning cadets will have the knowledge and skills gained from their education and training to understand the strategic context in which they find themselves,” Antonia said. “Our cadets who elect not to commission may also find themselves leading in professions with multinational corporations or federal agencies where understanding the strategic context of their activity will be of critical importance.”

The 2015 NMS report also outlines how the U.S. military aims to address global threats by working with existing allies and forging new partnerships. Echoing the goal of the U.S. military, UNG’s growing number of international partnerships provide opportunities for military exchanges, internships and conferences.

New UNG partnerships in the past year include General Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces (MALF) in Poland, the National University for Public Service (NUPS) in Hungary, and Stellenbosch University and South African Military Academy. Other possible partnerships include schools or programs in Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Argentina, Brazil, and New Zealand.The international experiences facilitated through these partnerships allow students to elevate their global and military knowledge, said Tony Fritchle, associate director for the Center for Global Engagement at UNG.

“As a senior military college and the Military College of Georgia, we seek to partner with military academies that support UNG and its Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies strategic plans,” Fritchle said. “Our primary objectives are to foster the development of cadet global competencies, language and cultural immersion, and professional military education.”

Cadet Hite in the CULP program in Vietnam
Other new opportunities include internships with the NATO School in Germany, the NATO Defense College in Italy, the U.S. Army European Command in Germany, and the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii, and conferences in Germany, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. A $10,000 grant from the Olmsted Foundation also funds overseas travel and cultural immersion opportunities for commissioning cadets.

Morgan Greaves, majoring in international affairs, spent a semester at MALF in Poland.“As a leader you never know what situation you’ll have to adapt to, and by consistently pushing yourself past what you’re comfortable with, you grow,” Greaves said. “I’m excited to better understand how European militaries work together, and I hope the experience will positively impact my capabilities as a leader.”

Clay Carlton, also majoring in international affairs, studied at NUPS in Hungary.

“I hope to gain an understanding of Hungarian and European culture and its relation to the United States in the military,” Carlton said. “I am hoping with this new information, and the cultural experiences abroad, I can further improve myself as a leader and an Army officer.”

MOU Signing - South Africa - Stellenbosch University
UNG President Bonita Jacobs, left, shakes hands with Willem de Villiers, rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, after the two signed an agreement creating a new partnership between the two schools and the South African Military Academy.

Working with other militaries and understanding the local environment is an area the U.S. Army recognizes as a need. Sharon Hamilton, director of liaison and military operations for UNG’s Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies, said socio-cultural understanding is important.“It builds our understanding so that we make more informed decisions about the impacts of what we’re doing in Afghanistan or anywhere else,” Hamilton, who was with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command prior to joining UNG, said. “We need to understand people. We’re never going to get away from the basic premise that it’s always about people in relationships.”

Foreign militaries have similar goals, according to Maj. Marcin Bielewicz, vice dean for military affairs of MALF’s Faculty of Management.

“The platoon leader right now is a diplomat. It’s not only a commander taking care of the purely combat military tasks, but it’s a kind of diplomat or negotiator,” Bielewicz said. “The officer, who actually is representing the country, also needs to possess certain skills that are not purely military, such as social, psychological and interpersonal skills.”

The international experiences offered to UNG cadets supplement the university’s academic programs and nationally recognized ROTC program. UNG has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and a Chinese Language Flagship and recently started the Center for Cyber Operations Education and Institute for Strategic and Security Studies in efforts to coordinate cross-disciplinary programs.At UNG, the goal is to commission a complete officer who is ready to hit the ground running – whether in infantry or cyber operations.

“We’re preparing them to be agile, adaptive, innovative leaders of character able to succeed in a complex world so that they are prepared to lead as soon as they commission,” Antonia said.