News | June 13, 2014

Joint Forces Staff College Holds Combined Graduation


Norfolk, Va. -- The Joint Forces Staff College held a combined graduation ceremony for two of its four Schools today.  The Joint Advanced Warfighting School conferred a Master of Science Degree in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy to 38 graduates, including four international students. The Joint and Combined Warfighting School graduated 243 students, including 10 international students.  U.S. Navy Admiral Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, was the keynote speaker.

Admiral Gortney challenged the graduates to find the “yes.” “What makes a good staff?” he asked. “Find the ‘yes.’"

“If you don’t do that detailed planning, you can get hurt. You find the’ yes’, you develop the courses of action that leadership can use and choose from. You find that ‘yes,’ so that you have the ability and the facts to say no when you need to say no. I challenge you all to go out there and find that ‘yes,’” Gortney said.

“Leadership doesn't want to make a decision until the time is right….And you’re the one who develops those courses of action to finding the ‘yes’ to get to the right decision. Absolutely critical work,” he said.

The admiral also stressed the importance of teamwork. “You can’t do it alone; you have to do it with your shipmates, your wingman -- your battle buddy. When you go to staff, it’s important to remember that team work is absolutely critical as well,” he said.

Gortney also encouraged the graduates to remember to strike the right work-life balance. He listed five attributes: work, family, and physical, mental and spiritual health. “You have to put those five attributes in proper order, but you don’t get to control what order they’re in,” he said. Sometimes, he said, there may be a crisis at work that you would need to put work at the top; or there may be a family emergency where family is on top.

“You as leadership need to make sure everybody put the right priority in the right spot to deal with those particular challenges, and then when that particular challenge is over, to reorder those priorities,” he said.  “You have to make sure that the people who work for you keep track of those attributes and put them in the right order. And then you personally have to do it, because if you don’t follow or put those attributes in the right order, the people who work for you won’t do it as well.”

“I look out (in the audience) and I see the youth of America. I see my relief out there. I’m excited about our future and I’m excited about what I see out there,” he said.