10th Regiment, Advanced Camp (CLC) Cadets attend the Commitment and Army Profession Seminar (CAPS) at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) in Elizabethtown, Ky., August 12, to listen to Gen. David G. Perkins, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
Perkins spoke with the Cadets about the Army doctrine and leader development, stressing the importance of personal development as well.
“I recommend that early on you figure out how you can continuously develop yourself,” Perkins said, “you have to think about the big ideas and you have to think about the Army vision before you start whatever it is you need to do.”
Cadet Mark Von Cappeln, Rutgers University – Newark, said he felt the personal development points stuck out to him the most.
“It was awesome to hear a four-star general talk to us about our futures and expectations from us as leaders,” Cappeln said. “He talked to us about being doers and how to develop as leaders personally. You need to be on the same level with your soldiers to show them that you are able to do the same things that you are expecting them to do as well.”
After his keynote speech, Perkins took questions from the Cadets in the audience on leadership, challenges he foresees for the future, and dependency on the doctrine.
“My experience is if you have great subordinates that make a great team, what happens is they exploit the initiative without you having to correct them.” “If you exploit the initiative then you are able to problem-solve to find a position of advantage that you did not have before.”
Perkins explained that other militaries believe the U.S. Army is too dependent on its chain of command.
“The United States Army is a concept based doctrine driven organization. Not all other militaries are, but we are,” Perkins advised. “What we have seen throughout the world is that it has been like-skill against like-skill conflict, but now what we are seeing lately is that the enemy is trying to find our weaknesses and pull it apart, especially with what we are dependent on.”
In a surprising move that left the Cadets in the audience speechless, Perkins removed his velcro rank from his chest and placed it on a Cadet beside him.
“I would return to the bottom again,” Perkins said when discussing the importance of leadership development in the chain of command. “The Army was formed soldier to soldier, sergeant to sergeant, and lieutenant to lieutenant to become what it is today and it can be destroyed the same way.”
Cadet Easton Haslam, Virginia Military Institute, was the lucky Cadet who was able to wear Perkins’ four-star rank.
“I really did enjoy the speech, I liked being able to hear from Gen. Perkins. I wasn’t expecting him to place his rank on my chest, it was a really cool feeling,” Haslam said.
Haslam said he felt humbled by the experience and appreciated hearing more about the importance of trust between a Soldier and Officer from Perkins.
“Gen. Perkins talked about trust being the keystone to everything we do and that really stuck out to me. I think that if people trust you as a leader then they will follow you and do what needs to be done effectively.”