Two Kentucky officers selected to participate in Solarium 2014

Commentary by Capt. Carla Getchell, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Solarium 2014

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno joins 100 Army captains at Solarium 2014 at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., July 11, 2014. The event was an initiative of Odierno to hear from junior officers across the Army and their thoughts on the issues affecting Soldiers. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Command and General Staff College)

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — One hundred senior captains from across the Army were selected to participate in Solarium 2014, an Army Chief of Staff (CSA) initiative at Fort Leavenworth, July 9-11. Among those selected were Capt. Jason Mendez and myself, two of just six National Guardsmen selected for the event which took place at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center.  The remaining 94 officers were active duty Army Soldiers. Divided into seven teams, the diverse group of captains set to work on developing topics to discuss with the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Solarium 2014 was held in an effort to inform and shape the future direction of the U.S. Army. This effort brings together 100 emerging leaders from across the Army to identify strategic issues that affect the Army of the future and leader development. It is the hope of the CSA that future solarium-type events will be held both in the U.S. and overseas to solicit insight that will continue to shape the Army for success in the future.

The consortium began several months ago with a web-based portion that allowed the captains to identify topics and issues of concern and develop those virtually within their groups. I was notified of my selection in May and selected training as the group I was most passionate about and was able to spend time studying the Army doctrine on training prior to the event.

Solarium Panel 2014

(Viewed from left to right) BG Joseph M. Martin, Dep. Cmd. Gen., U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC) – Training, Fort Leavenworth, KS; MG Thomas S. James, Jr., Dir. Mission Command Center of Excellence, Fort Leavenworth, KS; Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, Commanding General, CAC and Fort Leavenworth; CSM Jeffrey W. Wright, Command Sergeant Major, CAC and Fort Leavenworth, KS; BG Victor J. Braden, Dep. Cmd. Gen., Army National Guard, CAC, held a panel on 9 July 2014 in Marshall Hall of the Lewis and Clark Center to discuss Solarium 2014. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Command and General Staff College)

All of the captains discussed issues that included education, training, talent management, culture, mission command and vision and branding. The teams analyzed their issues for a month online and then two days at Fort Leavenworth before providing their findings to Odierno.

Each of the seven groups was assigned a facilitator from the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies who helped develop the topic prior to their arrival at Fort. Leavenworth.  Mendez, Assistant S3 and Battalion Training Officer for the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry said his Mission Command group’s facilitator, Col. (Ret) Kevin Benson, “did a great job placing perspective on this opportunity and the work that was ahead.”

“My greatest takeaway was the opportunity to dive into my group’s topic and, in the process, come away with a better understanding having learned from our readings, discussions, and experiences of my peers,” said Mendez.

Solarium not only provided the opportunity for the voices of current or post company commanders to be heard by the CSA, but also for those passionate and diverse captains to listen to each other after spending several weeks researching and engaging in their group’s topic.

“It was an eye opening experience,” said Mendez. “Having the opportunity to be one of the six National Guard officers to attend was truly an honor.”

It is also one that we both hope is repeated annually so National Guard officers continue to have a place at the table of such important and far reaching discussions.

It is a testament to the level of operational readiness the National Guard has achieved.

Click here to read more about Solarium 2014 from the U.S. Army.

And here from Army Times.

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