DMI hosts British Military Attaché on visit to West Point

Story and photo by Capt. Tom Rylands Department of Military Instruction

December 6th, 2018 | News, News and Features

On Friday, Nov. 16, the Department of Military Instruction hosted Brig.James Carr-Smith, the British Military Attaché and Head of the British Army Staff in the United States.
Carr-Smith visited West Point to deliver a presentation entitled “Interoperability – Why we have no choice.”
While primarily an opportunity for staff and faculty development, the visit also served as an opportunity to help broaden Carr-Smith’s understanding of how West Point cadets are trained and educated before he takes over as Commander Sandhurst Group, the UK equivalent of the Commandant of Cadets.
Having endured a torrid journey through inclement weather, Carr-Smith was briefed on the military training progression that cadets receive during their 47-month West Point experience with a focus on Cadet Summer Training. He met with a number of department heads and discussed potential U.S.-UK collaborative opportunities.
Although West Point is very different from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) commissioning model, the opportunities and benefits of increased collaboration between the two foremost military academies is obvious and was an enduring theme during the visit. Carr-Smith took part in a defense and strategic studies lesson as they studied the AirLand, AirSea and Multi-Domain Battle and was given a tour of the West Point Simulation Centre to see how simulation technologies complement USMA’s Military Education and Training program.
Following lunch with cadets in the Cadet Mess Hall, Carr-Smith spoke to DMI personnel about the long history of interoperability between the U.S. and UK and how today’s global security environment demands the highest levels of integrated action between partners and allies.
Interoperability is the ability to routinely act together coherently, effectively and efficiently to achieve shared objectives.
He cited the Battle of St. Quentin Canal, a pivotal battle during the First World War, where British, American, Australian and French forces worked in concert to establish the first full breach of the Hindenburg Line as an example of interoperability at its finest. He stressed the importance of being able to share critical information with ones’ Allies and described how Britain plans to increase bilateral activity with its priority partners, of which the U.S. is of primary concern.
Carr-Smith’s visit concluded appropriately with an overview of the Sandhurst Competition; the annual military skills competition held at West Point every April that brings together military academy cadets from across the globe. The aim of the competition is to develop understanding and build trust between the cadets from different nations while inspiring them to achieve military excellence; a prime example of West Point driving interoperability.
The next international Sandhurst competition will be April 12-13, 2019 and will include two teams from the RMAS.