December 19th, 2006 11:59 EST
Top Iraq Reconstruction General Calls on NPS Grads to Achieve True Jointness
MONTEREY, CALIF. (NNS) -- During the Fall 2006 commencement ceremony Dec. 15 at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Army general who recently oversaw all reconstruction in Iraq urged the graduates to do everything they can to achieve true jointness.
In his keynote address, Maj. Gen. William H. McCoy, the top Army engineer called on officers from all four U.S. services and 20 allied nations to get serious about achieving genuine inter-service and coalition interoperability after leaving the nation’s premier security research university.
“You’ve just received a world class education from some of the best and brightest educators in the world, where you’ve learned how to think critically and creatively about how to really get ‘out of the box,’” McCoy said, “and now you need to apply those skills to doing what your nation needs most.
"And what we really need is to be better jointly, which requires real change," said McCoy, now the commander of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center and commandant of the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
"Though we’re the Army Corps of Engineers," he said, "we brought all four services together for reconstruction in Iraq and I’ve seen the tremendous synergy that happens when you bring in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps for that kind of truly joint effort.
"So when you get back in the field, I want you to drive that change...," he emphasized. "After 20 years of talking about it, I want you to put all that creativity to work getting to the simple solution that really solves the (jointness and interoperabilty) problem.”
More than 350 graduates received their diplomas from the Naval Postgraduate School during the ceremony.
As commandant of the Gulf Region Division of the Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad from Summer 2005 through October 2006, McCoy oversaw nearly 4,000 construction and reconstruction projects, from repairing oil, water, electricity and sewage systems to building hundreds of schools and medical centers.
Following his keynote address, McCoy remained on stage with NPS Acting President Air Force Col. David Smarsh, Dean of Students, and master of ceremonies Cmdr. Debbie Monroe and the platform party to present graduate diplomas to 105 Navy, 34 Marine Corps, 30 Army, 73 Air Force, one Army Reserve and six Naval Reserve officers; 62 Department of Defense civilians; and 71 international officers from 20 allied nations and coalition partners.
Awarded were five doctoral, 328 Master of Science, 44 Master of Arts, 12 Master of Business, one executive master of business, one mechanical engineer, three astronautical engineer, two Bachelor of Science, and 14 dual degrees. Of the 351 who crossed the stage, 87 also received diplomas in Joint Professional Military Education. Thirty one graduates received their degrees in absentia.
Lt. Laird-Philip Ryan Lewis, who earned an astronautical engineer degree and won the prestigious Monterey Council Navy League Award for Highest Academic Achievement as well as the Astronaut Michael J. Smith and Astronaut William C. McCool Astronautics Award, was given the honor of cutting the cake with McCoy and Smarsh at the reception after the ceremony, in Herrmann Hall.
“The greatest value of NPS for me has been the opportunity to receive graduate-level education and to mix with officers from other services and other countries,” Lewis said. “NPS is one of the grounds for getting to where Gen. McCoy says we need to go, to true jointness, because it’s already so joint and multi-cultural.”
New defense analysis graduate Shah M. Nazmul Karim of the Bangladesh Navy is the first military officer from his country to attend the Naval Postgraduate School. He was at the reception with his wife, Mehtab Jabreen, who served as the family chair of the International Executive Committee during their 18-months at the university.
“I hope many more officers from my country will come to NPS,” Nazmul Karim said. “Coming here changed my vision about everything – about the U.S., about U.S. students, about this country – all of it positive. This is invaluable for both of our countries.
"The academic standards here are so high that the curriculum forces you to learn so much," added Karim. The Bangladeshi officer has a background in intelligence and serves in special operations for his nation's navy. He hopes his studies at NPS will enable an understanding of terrorist financing operations and the culture and motives of terrorists to combat the threat.
“The Naval Postgraduate School is an extremely valuable asset to the national defense, because it’s so important that our officers be as skilled as possible,” McCoy said. “It’s such a great value, I would have liked to have come here myself.”
For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.
By Barbara Honegger, Senior Military Affairs Journalist