Military general offers praise to Cougar cadets

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    BY ANNA ZIMMERMAN

    Over 100 impeccably uniformed Cougar Battalion cadets answered the call of their lieutenant colonel as he addressed them at the annual military ball Saturday night, April 10.

    Keynote speaker Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, TRADOC Commander, spoke offering praise to BYU’s program and its cadets.

    “This is a tremendous university nationally ranked for a number of things, but the ROTC this university supports is top notch,” Byrnes said.

    As one of only 11 four star generals in the entire U.S. Army, Byrnes is the senior commander in charge of all training and programs that teach soldiers to be soldiers.

    “The last time BYU received a four-star army general was about 30 years ago,” said Cadet Captain Jared Jensen. “To have him visit even once is remarkable, twice in 30 years is amazing.”

    To mark the occasion, the ROTC presented Byrnes with BYU’s Helaman 2000 award, making him an honorary member of the BYU battalion.

    Byrnes commented on the war on terrorism and the position held by the United States.

    “The future of this nation has been put on the line many times in the past,” he said. “With each new conflict, the future is again at risk if we fail to act. We will not relent, and are deeply committed to taking care of this threat of terrorism.”

    With this new war of ideas and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the general called to arms a new type of soldier.

    “We need leaders in the future who are comfortable being uncomfortable, mentally agile and adept at handling massive amounts of information,” Byrnes said. “They must be technically savvy, be thinkers and see creative solutions us older soldiers cannot see.”

    A recruiting commercial the general brought showed the necessary and vital links between teamwork, power, speed and technology. Ranked fifth in the nation of ROTC programs, BYU’s program entrenches these principles into its cadets.

    Byrnes emphasized the importance of training and trust received and built by cadets preparing to enter the close, brutal and personal arena of battle.

    “Humans are far more important than hardware,” he said. “It’s not just about the army; it’s about the joint force. We all bring a lot to the fight and our troops are up to it.”

    The American Soldier, Time’s person of the year, is one of the most respected people in the United States according to a recent survey, Byrnes said.

    Cadet Joshua Aston, 23, from Burley, Idaho, said he was proud to be a part of something so big and appreciated the praised offered by such a highly ranked officer.

    “It’s an exciting time, and I’m proud to be a part of such a great army and national military,” he said.

    Cadet Major Justin Cuff, 24, from Fort Sill, Ok, welcomed the general’s message and said he chose BYU for its program and atmosphere.

    Cadet Dan Patterson, 23, from Alpine, agreed with Cuff.

    “I chose BYU for its outstanding program. Plus, it’s an ideal environment for any Mormon,” he said.

    As a member of the Ranger Challenge team, Patterson has competed against other ROTC programs and armed forces teams and understands the respect BYU’s program commands. BYU’s first appearance at the national Ranger Challenge, held at West Point, shattered all ROTC records for the competition

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