By: Savoury Jacobson
FORT KNOX, KY. –On June 20, 2017, the Acting Secretary of the Army, Hon. Robert M. Speer visited Fort Knox and spent a day touring training sites and visiting with Cadets going through Cadet Summer Training.
Secretary Speer has served for twenty-eight years in the U.S. Army. Aside from serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, he also was the managing director for PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Services, heading their defense and military business. On January 20, 2017, he was appointed to Acting Secretary of the Army. Born in Fort Ord, California, Mr. Speer comes from a military family. Originally commissioning through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Accounting at the University of Notre Dame. He also has a Master of Business Administration and Management of Information Systems through Indiana University and a Master of Science, National Resource Strategy, through the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, DC.
Secretary Speer’s first stop at Fort Knox was to eat lunch with Cadets at a patrol base. When asked about what lesson he would want future army leaders to take away from Cadet Summer Training he replied that,
“I think coming out of here with confidence and understanding what their leadership capabilities are. They hopefully came in here and walked away learning a lot, but understanding how they have confidence to be the leader that they need to be in the army. ”
He also observed and engaged with Second Lieutenants at the rappel tower. In terms of the additional training Fort Knox has to offer during Cadet Summer Training, Secretary Speer said,
“I think it’s great; it’s been adaptive, it’s changed, it’s starting to get back to some of the basics. Our Army has fought in COIN [and] contingency operations for some time. They’re now getting back into some of the hands on stuff they need to do. They’re getting back to placing people in responsibility with mentorship and leadership. [….] You can see adaptive learning and training by the ROTC Cadets.”
When commenting on characters that would be vital to the success of newly commissioned Cadets and their future military careers, Secretary Speer added that,
“I think the biggest one is to be a leader, and leader by example. You need to listen. You need to trust. You also need to be the leader that provides the example on the way ahead. […] You have to have confidence and trust in the folks that work for you and empower them. And at the same time hold them to that standard.”
After the rappel tower, he went on to visit with Cadets at the Cross Cultural Competencies Site.
“We always talk about change and the rapid pace of change. Things are changing more quickly than ever now. So [Cadets] are going to have to be adaptive leaders, very agile leaders, ones that can stay with true core values of what we are ethically. But they’re going to have to live with different things that we never had…when I was coming up.”
Secretary of the Army’s last stop was the George Blair Range to shoot and qualify. While there, he also engaged with Cadets and spoke to media about his thoughts about being back at Fort Knox and observing Cadet Summer Training.
“I’ve seen confidence courses today. I’ve seen the obstacles. They’ve changed somewhat, but they put me right back there in saying ‘wow’. I remember coming here and saying ‘I can’t do that’ and then coming out with the confidence and I did achieve… I was able to do the road marches, I was able to fire and qualify. I was able to complete the land navigation courses. So it brought all that back. And I remember that time as hot [and thinking,] ‘I’m never going to get through this’. But it goes very quickly. I still, as a matter of fact, have friends today…from ROTC forty years ago.”
When commenting again on leadership, Mr. Secretary added that,
“It’s part of the whole. It’s part of being the individual who lives the values, that lives the ethics, that provides that example, who can inspire other people. So there’s a whole bunch that brings it together and they’re interrelated. If you’re one who tries to tell people what to do, but you at the same time don’t do it yourself…they won’t follow through. You can be a great inspiration, but if you don’t know how to set the mission and motivate others to do it, that’s not […] the leader we need either. So it’s a combination of attributes.”
The Secretary of the Army ended up spending several hours at the range, before leaving for Washington, DC. Both cadre and Cadets alike got a chance to interact with him while on post. He left, leaving a bolstered Fort Knox behind and encouragement for future cadets’ training and goals as laid out by the Cadet Summer Training program.
Cadet Summer Training will bring 8,200 Cadets through Basic and Advanced Camp this summer on Fort Knox. These camps are designed to help challenge, grow and improve various skills and leadership qualities within the Cadets. If you think you have what it takes to be a Cadet or if you are interested in a job after college click the following link: https://my.goarmy.com/info/rotc1/index.jsp?iom=IP08-AUTO-R1NA-BR-XXX-XX-XXX-MO-XX-X-BRCMAC:IP08