Developing Leaders

Chickamauga Staff Ride Opens Eyes to International Implications


By Assistant Professor Ruben D. Colon, History and Leadership SPME

U.S. Army Maj. Abram Flores, a student in the Command & General Staff Officer Course at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, Georgia, conducts the first group presentation, a discussion of the first day of battle at Chickamauga. (Photo by Asst. Prof. Ruben Colon, History and Leadership SPME)

Fort Benning, Ga (Aug 29, 2017)— Forty-nine students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) who went on a staff ride to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in early August learned a lot more than the details of a Civil War battle fought there more than 150 years ago.

The students studied on operational leadership during the United States Civil War to refine their own leadership capabilities, aiding their professional judgment and understanding of combat operations. They used the historical analogies found during the battle at Chickamauga to analyze, explain, and comprehend contemporary events and relate them to future issues during military operations.

In addition to the American students, the class also had field-grade officers from Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, and Panama. As a result, the staff ride also functioned as a team-building exercise, bringing the members of the multi-cultural institute’s Command & General Staff Officer Course (CGSOC) Class of 2018 closer together.

The course is designed to educate intermediate-level Army, sister-service, interagency, and partner-nation officers to be prepared to operate in complex Army, joint, interagency, and multinational environments as field grade commanders and staff officers.

Peruvian navy Capt. Miguel Barrios, an instructor at WHINSEC, steered students through their learning objectives with the U.S. Army Infantry Branch Historian David S. Stieghan and Chickamauga Park Ranger James Ogden who added their expertise and knowledge of the battle at areas of strategic importance.

This staff ride caused Ogden to consider a broader meaning for his park.

“Working with you all has also caused me to think more extensively about interpreting the United States Civil War more broadly; more specifically internationally,” Ogden explained. “I still have a lot to learn in this regard, particularly to then be able to relate it to others, but working with you all has made me aware that, as important as the Civil War is to United States History, that we usually have forgotten it’s much broader context relative to the rise of representative governments.”

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