The United States Naval Institute held its 6th Annual History Conference at the U.S. Naval Academy Oct. 14.
This year’s theme “Actions Shaping History” focused on the U.S. Marine Corps. Speakers included retired Gen. John Allen; retired Gen James F. Amos; Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey; and retired Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr.
The institute’s aim was to tie the Marine Corps’ past with its present and educate midshipmen through experiences of former and current leaders.
“We wanted to take a close look at the Marine Corps’ leadership and history,” said April Parrico, USNI director of conferences and events. “We try to look at it like an applied history conference. In the morning we started with history and throughout the day, the topics became more current, eventually looking toward the future.”
The speakers used personal experiences while in command and performing their duties to give the audience insight into leadership qualities.
“Remember that people are the center of gravity in our organization,” said Bailey. “When you take care of your people, they will take care of you. That is essential to my leadership philosophy.”
Midshipmen and other audience members heard leadership perspectives from wartime scenarios dating from Vietnam to current conflicts with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“When I commanded our forces in Afghanistan, that was a mature coalition in a mature theater of war," said Allen. "We relied on our authorities to wage conflict. We relied for international recognition on a United Nations security council to be able to wage war.
“We didn’t have time for either of those when the ISIL emergency broke this time last year,” Allen continued. “We quickly formed the 60-nation coalition, bound together with a common set of values and a common sense of purpose to confront the danger at hand.”
For the hundreds of midshipmen who attended the conference throughout the day, the opportunity to engage with senior military leaders provided a valuable experience.
“To be able to interact with this level of leadership personally really helps me see what characteristics I should continue to develop and hone,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Benjamin Machen. “It’s a great opportunity, and I hope we can continue to have these types of events.”
The Naval Institute plans to continue its yearly conference to help educate and inform midshipmen through a historical and speaker-based forum.
“We already talking about next year’s conference and celebrating women in the military services,” said Parrico. “I feel like these events can be so inspiring and really help the midshipmen during their years here at USNA.”
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