The library is long-gone to a larger, more modern facility, and Sept. 29, the west wing was renamed Powell Hall in honor of that lieutenant colonel who went on to become the National Security Advisor, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.
Powell and his wife, Alma, cut the ribbon, opening the hall, after a short ceremony in Arnold Hall. Inside Powell Hall, there is a snippet from a speech the general gave about his time at the National War College -- a part of the National Defense University.
“I came here to study war, and while I learned about war, I learned even more about the importance of finding peace,” he said.
During the ceremony, the first African-American general to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that when he arrived at the college he knew everything he needed to know about being an infantryman and how to run infantry battalions and brigades.
“When selected, I had done everything that a young infantry officer should have done in his career -- two years in Vietnam, a year in Korea, Leavenworth, Fort Benning, Airborne, Ranger, Pathfinder -- all those things,” he said. “I had checked all the boxes, but I didn’t realize what was yet to come.”
The college, he said, took him to the next level.
“It was at the War College that I realized that there was a bigger world out there than an infantry battalion or the brigade that I was about to get,” he said. “There was a bigger world out there that I had to prepare myself for, if I was going to keep making a contribution to the Army and to national defense.”
The war college, Powell said, showed him there was more to defense than being a Ranger or jumping out of aircraft. The war college, he said, taught him what the other elements of national power are, and how they fit together -- or didn’t -- to operate.
“I had to learn how politics worked,” Powell said. “I had to learn the classical studies that went before. … I worked hard at it.”
That is what is unique about the National War College, and the National Defense University, Powell said. The institution, he said, gives leaders the chance to learn and think, and read and write about national defense and its implications in all fields.
Learning From Fellow Students
His attendance at the War College also provided an opportunity to learn from his fellow students, Powell said. He said it was safe to say that the team that launched Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990 to 1991 was formed at the war college. They knew each other well by the time it came to apply military force, and it was seamless, he said.
“This place is special to me and it always will be,” Powell said. “And, I cannot tell you how proud I am to cut the ribbon and go into the hall. I thank this wonderful country for giving me the opportunity.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)