By Lee Rials, Public Affairs officer, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation /
FORT BENNING, Ga. – The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation Command & General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) Class of 2016-2017 graduated 66 students May 23 in Marshall Auditorium.
Students in the course represented 13 nations: Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the United States.
The thirty-two U.S. students came from the four military branches and from both active duty and reserve components. The international contingent included military and law enforcement leaders.
Brig. Gen. Miguel Alfonso, commanding general of the VI Division, Chilean Army, gave the commencement address.
Alfonso has led units at all levels, taught in several military schools, and from August 1994 to February 1995 was a student at Fort Benning–not at the School of the Americas, but taking the Officer Advanced Course at the U.S. Army Infantry School.
U.S. Army Maj. Sergio Romero earned honors as the top U.S. student, and Uruguayan Army Maj. Oscar F. Chaine Escobar was the top international student.
U.S. Army Maj. Carlos A. Calderon, the class leader, received the John J. Pershing Spirit of Cooperation Award, and U.S. Army Maj. Sergio Romero received the Matthew B. Ridgway Leadership Award.
Thirteen students completed requirements for the Master of Military Art and Science degree, and five more received diplomas for Master’s degrees earned at Troy University during the academic year.
Dr. Jack Kem, Supervisory Professor at the Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., conferred the MMAS diplomas during the ceremony, and Dr. Douglas Davis of Troy University presented diplomas to those who earned Master’s degrees at Troy.
The graduation culminated a year of study designed to educate intermediate-level Army, sister-service, and partner-nation officers to be prepared to operate in full-spectrum Army, joint, interagency, and multinational environments as field-grade commanders and staff officers.
U.S. military students attending the course received Military Education Level-4 (MEL-4) and Joint Military Professional Education (JMPE) Phase 1 designation upon graduation.
The CGSOC is the Army’s middle-management course, taught in its entirety in Spanish at WHINSEC.
The Institute course mirrors the course taught at the Command & General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., which issues the diplomas for the Institute students.
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation opened in 2001 to provide professional education and training to eligible persons of the nations of the Western Hemisphere within the context of the democratic principles set forth in the Charter of the Organization of American States. A Department of Defense institute run by the U.S. Army, it excels in fostering mutual knowledge, transparency, confidence, and cooperation and in promoting democratic values, respect for human rights, and an understanding of U.S. customs and traditions. The institute has the most extensive democracy, ethics and human rights training in all of DoD.
For more information on WHINSEC, please visit www.benning.army.mil/tenant/whinsec.