New commanding general takes over Fort
Fort Leavenworth — Through electronic warfare, military officials have been able to thwart improvised explosive devices.
But the electronic warfare also comes with challenges, according to Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., who assumed duties as commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth in early March.
“You press the button, nothing is going to happen,” Caslen said, referring to improvised explosive device operators. “But when you’re jamming IEDs, you’re also shutting down phone lines … also communication to (unmanned aerial vehicles) above and other things.”
Caslen met with media members Thursday morning to discuss his new post and his time in Iraq. He previously served as the commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division and commanding general of the Multi-National Division – North for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Caslen said of his time in Iraq: “It’s leadership ability to build relationships with foreign police.”
“It’s not based on brute force or intimidation,” he added, stressing the importance of understanding the culture. “Go into things, sit and listen.”
The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center oversees the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, as well as 17 other schools, centers and training programs throughout the United States.
In regards to education, Caslen said he was proud of the cooperative between the Army and Kansas University for the Wounded Soldiers program. The program allows wounded military to take KU graduate courses for free with the agreement to take a future position with the Army. Caslen pointed out that during his military career, he earned a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Kansas State University.
At the same time Caslen started his position at Fort Leavenworth, the Mission Command Center of Excellence was put in motion. Centers of excellence addressing other war-fighting functions have been established at other U.S. forts, but not one addressing mission command.
Caslen didn’t have a timeline for completion of the mission command center. He estimated hiring 20-40 military jobs at the center, but they would be drawn from other positions at the fort. He also anticipates the same number of civilian hires, which would be new hires.
“Let’s get this thing up and running as fast as we can,” Caslen said.
Asked about what qualities make a good leader, the commanding general said trust, competency and integrity were key. Trust especially was important with subordinates and senior leaders, he said.
Also during his discussion, Caslen, with his wife Shelly looking on, stressed the importance of the military family at the college and providing resources.
“When we’re on our death bed, we’re not wishing we spent more time in the office,” Caslen said. “We wished we had spent more time with our family.”
International Hall of Fame
Also Thursday, Caslen assisted in honoring the two newest inductees into the Command and General Staff College’s International Hall of Fame at Eisenhower Auditorium in the Lewis and Clark Center. Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Bin Abdallah Bin Hamad Al-Marshed, commander of the Royal Saudi Land Force in Saudi Arabia, and Brig. Gen. Dario Oscar Tapia, commander of the Belize Defense Force, were this year’s inductees. Inductees must be CGSC graduates at Fort Leavenworth and must attain one of the highest positions of military in their countries’ armed forces.
Al-Marshed was a 1984 CGSC graduate; Tapia graduated from the Fort Leavenworth college in 2005.
“June 2004 to June 2005 was the best year of my life, or so I was indoctrinated to believe,” Tapia joked during his acceptance speech.