Once in a lifetime experience…..

By: Cole Buergi, VP Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.
Thanks to my employer Susan Finco who nominated me, I recently experienced one of the greatest moments in my career by participating in the Army War College National Security Seminar (NSS). It was an opportunity to spend four days interacting and discussing national and global events with our military’s best and brightest. 
The Army War College is among our nation’s top military colleges and is designed to educate our best military officers to prepare them for new roles as strategic leaders of the military. Although it is called the Army War College with many of the students serving in the Army, all five branches of our military are represented as well as military officers from allied countries throughout the world.
The NSS is a capstone event and a culmination of 10 months of Master’s and doctorate level courses designed to prepare the students for their next military assignments. Upon graduation, many of them will be assigned to the Pentagon or strategic bases of command throughout the world helping to protect America’s national interests. The international students will return to their respective countries to help lead their militaries. This cooperative learning helps strengthen ties among our allies and opens doors to long lasting peace. Equally important, the students are learning how to become strategic thinkers, broadening their skills to evaluate issues from all sides and make informed decisions.
Past graduates include such great military leaders as General Omar Bradley, Admiral William Halsey, General George Patton and President Dwight Eisenhower.   
Only about 150 civilians are accepted to take part in the NSS each year and the goal is to embed us into the individual classroom setting and large group seminars to provide a broad perspective of what civilians in the United States are thinking, particularly on items of national security and global events. The civilian guests included men and women from all walks of life, who have achieved success in their career paths.
Our task was to challenge the students thinking by asking them questions they may not get from subordinates within the military. Equally, the officers were tasked with challenging us to think differently by challenging our assumptions and asking us to consider alternative solutions to truly evaluate problems from all sides.
The give and take was remarkable and the one-on-one interaction with my sponsor (i.e. student chaperone) was amazing. I will cherish those memories and I want to congratulate the college for having insight to allow civilians to participate. It’s a genius way of allowing military leaders to gain exposure to a broad spectrum of ideas.