Archive for Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fort honors foreign leader

September 15, 2005

Monday was a red-letter day at Fort Leavenworth, and not just because a foreign head of state was visiting.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, was inducted into the International Hall of Fame at the Command and General Staff College at the fort in a short ceremony at the school's Eisenhower Auditorium in Bell Hall.

The occasion marked two firsts: It was the first visit by a foreign head of state to the base and the first induction of a sitting head of state to the hall of fame.

According to a document from the base's public affairs office, the International Hall of Fame was founded in 1972 to honor CGSC graduates who "have attained, through military merit, the highest positions in their nation's armed forces, or who have held an equivalent position by rank or responsibility in a multi-national military organization."

Lt. Gen. William Wallace, commander of Fort Leavenworth, introduced Yudhoyono to CGSC students and staff, who filled the auditorium to capacity, with a speech that began with a series of reminisces of world events and culture from the period Yudhoyono attended the college, from 1990 to 1991.

A representative of the Military Order of the World Wars, which cosponsors the hall, then presented Yudhoyono with a certificate of honor. The president also received honorary alumni certificate from the college's alumni organization.

Yudhoyono then spoke.

"I still remember when the students of CGSC would gather round and say, 'This is the best year of my life,'" he said.

Yudhoyono, who retired from military life as a general in 2000 and was elected president in October 2004, said his military schooling taught him lessons that also were applicable to his political career.

"I am proud to say my military training taught me restraint and prudence," he said.

Yudhoyono said the most important lesson he and his fellow students learned at the college, with so many officers from so many different countries, was to "respect each other as equals."

This year's class of 725 students includes 78 international officers from 68 countries.

Yudhoyono's education also includes a master's degree in management from Webster University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the Bogor Agricultural University in his homeland, which he earned just two days before his presidential victory.

Yudhoyono wondered aloud what future students would think when they see his portrait hanging on the wall with those of other hall of fame inductees: "Perhaps that if they go to Fort Leavenworth, they can be president," he joked.

The Indonesian president also spoke of the need for policy discussions about security to expand in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami his country suffered in December 2004 to include poverty, terrorism, the environment and natural disasters. Yudhoyono said the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami served as "the largest example of military cooperation and solidarity."

Yudhoyono's induction brings to 213 the number of international officers inducted to IHOF since its inception.

On Friday morning IHOF will induct three more international students: Lt. Gen. Papa Khalilou Fall, Chief of General Staff, Armed Forces of Senegal, Republic of Senegal; Lt. Gen. Hans-Otto Budde, Chief of Staff, German Army, Federal Republic of Germany; and General Jose Antonio Garcia Gonzales, Chief of the Army Staff, Spanish Army, Kingdom of Spain.

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