Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Future Looks Bright - An Emerging Generation of Leaders

Over the course of the past few days, I have been privileged to have several opportunities to gaze into the soul of the next generation of our military leadership, and I am encouraged by what I see.

On Tuesday evening, I attended an extraordinary event at MIT. MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology (ISN) was sponsoring the second annual Soldier Design Competition. This competition, modeled after MIT's legendary $50K business plan competition, pitted teams of engineering students from MIT and West Point against one another in trying to solve practical problems that soldiers face on the battlefield - from dealing with the desert heat while wearing body armor, to solving the problem of evacuating battlefield casualties in the most efficient manner. I was astounded at the creativity and brilliance of the teams from both schools. During the course of the evening, we were presented with innovative and elegant solutions to a myriad of problems. This year, a West Point team won the top prize for their solution to salvaging residual power from depleted batteries and reusing that power in rechargable batteries. Thus, West Point won the team trophy. (Here is the URL For the ISN Website:)

During the time made available to intract with the team members from both schools, I was impressed with the depth of character in evidence from the men and women I met. They are clearly committed to channeling their impressive intellectual horsepower into making the battlefield environment as safe as possible for our troops.

Speaking of making the battlefield as safe as possible for our troops, at this event at MIT, I was pleasantly surprised to run into my friend, US Marine Corps officer Christopher "Buster" O'Brien. Buster is an Annapolis graduate, President of the USNA Class of '99, who is currently serving in the USMC Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, VA - applying real time lessons from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan and using those lessons to train the trainers of Marines before they deploy to the Gulf.

FYI - Buster will be finishing his commitment to the USMC this spring, and is entertaining opportunities for employment in the private sector in the Boston area. If you know of a firm that could use an outstanding leader for a business development or sales role, please contact me about Buster's availability.

During one of the breaks, I spent time with one of the competing teams - made up of three West Point "firsties" ("Seniors" in normal academic parlance). During our conversation I learned that one member of the team will not be able to be commissioned with his classmates. Shortly after learning that he would be "branching" aviation and eventually earning his wings as an Army aviator, he was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition that will prevent him from continuing his military career. This bright young engineering student will be able to function normally in a non-military environment, and will be looking for private sector opportunities after graduation from West Point in June. I would like to be able to use my network of contacts to help this fine young man, so if you have have ideas of companies that would welcome the opportunity to recruit an entry-level engineer with strong leadership credentials, please let me know.

* * * * *

Early this morning, I had a phone conversation with my friend, Captain Kevin Stacy, whose unit leaves this evening from Ft. Carson, Colorado for deployment in the Gulf. Kevin, a 2001 graduate of West Point, and a helicopter pilot, will be among those working to make Baghdad safe for those involved in the long challenge of nation building. This Renaissance Man has created a Blog that will allow him to communicate with family and friends back home his experiences over the course of the next twelve months while he and his team will be serving in Iraq. Today's posting - his final thoughts before deploying to the Middle East are poignant and worth sharing with you.

Please keep in your prayers Kevin, his wife Shannon, his team members and all who willingly put themselves in harm's way to answer the call of Duty, Honor, Country.

Here is the URL to Kevin's Blog:
The SALT Reports

Al Chase

No comments: