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Public Affairs : Kermit Roosevelt Lecture

Bucknall speaks at 66th annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture

Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood

Staff Writer

WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 6, 2013) — Lt. Gen. Sir James Jeffery C. Bucknall, commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and the Order of the British Empire, was the guest speaker at the 66th annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series attended by the Class of 2014 Feb. 27 at Robinson Auditorium.

Bucknall spoke on leadership and leadership qualities, especially for those who will be working with multinational partners.

“Here you have a role to play,” Bucknall said. “We all must understand our allies and have some understanding of their political context. Understand what the pressures are. Always remember they are Soldiers and not politicians. My first advice to you is to treat all like Soldiers.”

Leading a multinational force presents some challenges to leaders and leaders need to gain the respect of their Soldiers in any leadership situation.

“Match the capabilities of your Soldiers to the task,” he said. “Play to their strength and guard against weakness. Soldiers’ will not be 10 feet tall. Encourage and develop (your Soldiers.)”

Bucknall said platoon leaders should understand that not only are Soldiers in their hands, but also their families.

“Look after them and they will look after you,” he said. “People and personal relationships are vital.”

Another area in leadership is the Soldier’s relationship with noncommissioned officers. Bucknall said leaders should demonstrate professionalism, confidence and trust.

“There is no such thing as a bad Soldier, only bad officers,” he said. “The holy grail of leadership is that a platoon or troop wants you to succeed as much as you want each of them to succeed.”

Lt. Gen. Sir James Jeffrey C. Bucknall, commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and the Order of the British Empire, spoke at the 66th annual Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series. Bucknall is a 1978 graduate of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
The purpose of this lecture series is to foster better understanding between the U.S. military and the United Kingdom, and to educate cadets in international affairs and relations.

The lecture series started in 1947, and has been at West Point since 1997. The series is also held at the U.S. Army War College, Armed Forces Staff College and the Command and General Staff College. A lecturer from the U.S. speaks at the Military College of Sciences, the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, the Joint Services Defense College and the Ministry of Defense in the U.K.