By: Madison Thompson
FORT KNOX, Ky. – 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp, and 7th Regiment, Basic Camp, Cadets welcomed Ambassador John Limbert at Olive Theater, August 3, during Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox. Ambassador John Limbert was invited to speak to Cadets about a variety of topics including advice for Cadets when they commission as second lieutenants as well as opening the floor for questions.
In his opening statements, Ambassador Limbert thanked Cadets.
“Let me thank you today for choosing a career of public service. There are rewards, frustrations and dangers, but it’s something I did … and it was never boring and the satisfaction and the honor of serving your country and your people is massive. So, thanks for doing that,” stated Ambassador Limbert.
He talked about adversary versus enemy. According to Limbert, an adversary is someone or a group of people who you might not get along with, but there are some matters of common interest.
Limbert spoke about Cadets receiving advice all throughout their training.
“You’ve probably been getting lots of advice during this time, but I have just a few. One is remember the oath that we take as officers, as officials. Article two, section one of the U.S. Constitution specifies the oath for the President of the United States. By extension, all officials of the executive branch, both civilian and military, we swear the same oath,” said Limbert.
Limbert continued to explain, “That oath is to the U.S. Constitution. In the 18th century, when our founding fathers wrote the Constitution, they specified ‘oath’. People knew what an oath was. There were oaths of loyalty, oaths of fealty, but they were to a king or to a prince or to a church or something like that. But, an oath to a Constitution and through that, by extension, to entire people, that was new. That was different. When you are commissioned, think about the words. Think about what you’re saying, because our oath is not to a leader, not to a party, not to an ideology. It is to the Constitution and all that it represents.”
Limbert also said, “to always welcome the unexpected. Welcome what you, perhaps, thought what you didn’t want. You may find that you might not always get the assignment or the posting that you want, but value what you get. I rarely got the posting I wanted, but the postings I got were always fascinating, always interesting, I was never bored … Learn to live with rejection and welcome the posting and assignments you get.”
He also spoke about the people the Cadets would lead one day and how they must learn to take responsibility as well as blame and to not worry about credit. He told the story of Capt. Asoh and how Cadets should, in a way, take that defense and take the blame if something goes wrong.
“Take all blame onto yourself. I found this, in my career, to be a very powerful message. Things always go wrong. We’re human beings. We screw up. By definition, we are fallible. We make the wrong decisions. We do things that are, perhaps, not the best. When things go wrong, the question is not why did you screw up, but what did I do wrong. What did I miss? Did I fail to do something I should have? … Don’t worry about who gets the credit or something. It’s amazing how easy things become when you don’t have to worry about that … Life becomes much simpler,” stated Limbert.
Another topic discussed involved relying on trusted others who have good judgment and to prepare for the unknowns in their future.
“Use the abilities and the expertise wherever you can find it. Don’t worry so much about title or rank or job description. You will find, among your colleagues and comrades, amazing skills,” said Limbert. “Be prepared for the unexpected and, what I call, strategic moments in your career and in your life. When a decision that you take will have consequences and effect events beyond your personal near, immediate vision … Such events come with no warning with flags. There’s no announcement that says to you, ‘Lt. Jones, this is a strategic moment’. They just come on you.”
After providing these words of advice, Ambassador Limbert opened the floor for discussion and questions from the Cadets in the theater. Cadets inquired on an assortment of topics including personal examples of strategic moments in his career, how he suggested bridging cultural divides as well as geopolitics and its significance in modern warfare.
Another topic raised for discussion was his time in captivity during the Iran hostage crisis. In response, Limbert discussed methods of dealing with captivity that he noticed at the time.
“Basically, there were three strategies of coping. One was the hibernator. ‘I’m going to go in a corner and sleep. Wake me up when it’s over’. The other was the abuser. The abuser was the person who called them every name in the book and screamed at them. The other is getting under their skin … I used what I knew against them,” said Limbert.
He also told Cadets what does not work in these situations, one being to not “should’ve” yourself. He said you should never allow yourself to think, “I should’ve done this,” or “I should’ve done that”, and that in that moment you made the best decision you could at the time.
Ambassador Limbert, then, was asked a question by Marguerite Hughes.
“I would like to thank you for coming and speaking to us. This is a huge treat for the few of us who lived during that time in the 70s during the Iranian hostage crisis, because that was one of the first times when an international crisis was brought into our homes on a daily basis … What did you take from that experience … Do you still agree with that, the role of diplomacy and could you give us your thoughts of what you have learned today from your experience during the Iran hostage crisis,” asked Marguerite Hughes.
Limbert stated that he did still agree with diplomacy and recalled a special occasion that he took away during his time as a captive.
“I remember one letter I got saying, ‘I’m real sorry you are a prisoner. I know how you feel. I’m in the third grade’. That’s the kind of thing. You can’t overestimate what that does for morale knowing there’s a normal world going on out there with normal children saying the wonderful things that children say. What could be better than that,” said Limbert.
At the end, Ambassador congratulated Cadets and thanked them again for choosing a career of public service, hoping that they took something away from their experience and as they move forward into their careers.
Cadet Summer Training brings 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