Sandhurst competitors come together at West Point: MWI hosts fourth annual Sandhurst Conference

By Sgt. Quentin Johnson 205th Theater Public Affairs Support Element

April 11th, 2019 | In Focus, News
  Army Gen. Robert Brown, commander, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), speaks to hundreds of U.S. Military Academy, ROTC and foreign military cadets during Modern War Institute’s USMA Class of 1999 Sandhurst Conference Monday at Robinson Auditorium. Brown spoke on leadership qualities needed from future leaders such as trust, humility and proper training. The conference serves as the intellectual counterpart to West Point’s 51st Sandhurst Competition—a premier international military academy competition that began in 1967.
  A team passes a baton during a relay race before the 51st annual Sandhurst Military Skills Competition at the U.S. Military Academy Monday. The outcome of the race determined the order of march for the 49 teams representing four U.S. service academies, 14 international military academies and 16 ROTC programs, competing in the competition.
 Participants in the Sandhurst competition, including from Chile, sit down to listen to a lecture by Army Gen. Robert Brown, commander, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), during Modern War Institute’s USMA Class of 1999 Sandhurst Conference Monday at Robinson Auditorium.   Photo by Michelle Eberhart/USMA PAO

Hundreds of U.S. and foreign military academy cadets gathered together Monday for the Modern War Institute’s USMA Class of 1999 Sandhurst Conference.
This year’s conference was led by three guest speakers and included five break-out sessions, each focused on a specific area of leadership development and led by subject matter experts, said MWI executive officer Maj. Jake Miraldi, who organized the conference.
The conference is designed to test the mental agility of each cadet and serve as the intellectual counterpart to West Point’s 51st Sandhurst Military Skills Competition, he said.
Sandhurst, a premier international military academy competition that began in 1967, is a two-day, approximately 30-mile course filled with individual- and squad-based events designed to promote military excellence of future leaders across the world and will take place Friday and Saturday.
This year, 49 teams will compete in hopes of building relationships with allies and partners, but most importantly serving each other, said USMA Class of 2011 graduate Capt. Nicholas Dockery, commander of Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha, who gave the opening talk at the conference.
“You’re in the people business … building a team and taking care of those to your left and right,” Dockery said.
Dockery commented on many aspects of the lessons learned throughout his career including every cadet’s obligation to be a leader, which he describes as “a continuous process.”
Another piece of guidance was based on the importance of training, whether it’s based on a competition or as a leader.
“It’s the value you put on your own training,” Dockery said. “The fact that you are here to compete in this competition says a lot … sacrificing your time to compete in a competition that is focused on realistic training.”
The second guest speaker, Gen. Robert Brown, commander, U.S. Army Pacific, expanded on Dockery’s thought on training saying a good leader needs to train to thrive in ambiguity and chaos to ensure subordinates know leaders care for them.
“Soldiers don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” he said.
Brown went on to link how caring and training of others builds trust, which is something needed during the competition.
“You can’t take (trust) for granted. You have to work it every opportunity you have,” Brown said.
A good leader will always look to build trust whenever they can, which helps in future relationships between allies and different countries, Brown said.
Class of 2022 Cadet Cole Lindell, a member of USMA Gold, understands the value of trust between allies having participated in the Mexican Military “Chimaltlalli 2019” competition last month.
Lindell, a first-time participant in Sandhurst, said he hopes to build other relationships during the competition.
“It’s great to build partnerships,” Lindell said. “You get more exposure to the way other teams perform, which could be faster or more productive.”
Lindell was most pleased with Brown’s comments on caring for subordinates and improving himself as a future Army lieutenant.
Team competitor and U.S. ally from the Royal Military College of Canada Officer Cadet Gabriel Kemp said the conference has been helpful with Brown’s focus on trust being the most helpful.
Kemp’s team also competed in the Chimaltlalli 2019 and attributed their success to the trust they have between each other.
“Trust really made a difference in our ability to perform and led to us being rather successful” said Kemp, a second-year Sandhurst competitor.
Competition aside, Kemp said the camaraderie and friends developed during Sandhurst definitely take precedence until the competition beings.
“It’s so fun to take a step back and meet other people from different countries, but once the competition starts it’s game on … we are here to win,” Kemp said.
Despite Kemp’s optimism, Lindell said he believes his Gold Team will win.