25 Jun 2009
Mr. Ken Ferris, a staff officer from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) attending the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Ft. Leavenworth, was recently awarded the inaugural Interagency Award during CGSC’s 127th graduation ceremonies. Ferris became the first interagency student to receive the distinguished honor for, among many things considered, his outstanding academic and physical performance, demonstrated leadership in the classroom, and diverse strategic community engagements.
“The presence of interagency students enables traditional military students to compare and contrast organizational structures, career paths, and leader development models. Having a NGA representative in the classroom brings a refreshing, objective, and honest perspective to the course,” Ferris said.
Five other interagency students joined Ferris in graduating from CGSC. Represented in this year’s class are three students from the Department of State, Ferris from the NGA, and one each from the Defense of Intelligence Agency, and the Department Health and Human Services.
With growing emphasis on full-spectrum operations and a better collaboration between government agencies, military service branches, and allied partners, senior civilian and military leaders are encouraged by the influence these students are having on one another. Dr. Ralph Doughty, who serves as the Chair for Interagency and Multinational Studies, is pleased with the success of the program, but believes that more students are needed from our government agencies. “Yes, we’re very proud of the direction the program is heading in,” he adds, “but we have not yet reached our goal- we need more students, more exchange, from more agencies. Until we have interagency students represented in every student classroom, our work isn’t finished.”
The Interagency Exchange program, in its second year, has been aggressively pursuing improved partnerships with government departments and agencies to increase joint capabilities for successful whole-of-government operations. The program is designed under two basic components: interagency student participation in CGSC educational programs, and agency sponsorship of Army officers as CGSC Interagency Fellows. These exchanges provide a unique context in which military and interagency personnel can learn and appreciate the capabilities each brings to the problems at hand, and results in experiential learning gained by working issues side-by-side in an educational environment that is similar to the operational environment they will face together in stability operations, disaster response, or humanitarian assistance.
Graduating with the six interagency students were more than 900 other US and international officers. Each student completed a 10-month, intermediate level education program designed to develop field-grade officers who can think critically, and are adaptive leaders, able to operate across all environments. Most of the graduates will deploy to their new assignments after leaving Ft. Leavenworth, and once there, will face a very real opportunity to practically apply the theories and lessons learned in the classroom on the battlefield where this knowledge is needed most.