Graduation Speech by: Col(P) Patrick Roberson
“Joe, thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak today, first things first, I want to highlight the families in attendance. I’m glad to see so many of you here today; we all share in these men’s accomplishments, they would not be here without you, so be very proud. One more thing on family, our work requires a lot from us and our loved ones; don’t neglect them, this is a demanding lifestyle. Develop a plan, develop a strategy for how to stay connected and then execute it. That’s what we do, we plan and execute, do the same thing with your families and with a little luck you’ll have a fantastic future together in this business. Getting back to these great men seated to my front, there aren’t many like them, as a general rule of math it takes about eight candidates in the beginning to make one graduate. That is a tough cut and the vast majority of people either don’t have what it takes or they’re not interested in trying. So congratulations on a job well done, you have successfully navigated our training pipeline. I’m going to spend the rest of my time talking about what’s expected now, what comes next and what it means to wear a green beret.
I’ll start out by saying you’re a member of a profession, a very select cut from within the profession of arms. And just like other profession; doctors, lawyers, professors, we have gates, we have standards, we have governing bodies, we have continuing education requirements and the like. You’ve just passed through one of those significant gates within our profession. So remember, this isn’t just a job or just a career, it’s a profession and I would ask we think about it in that context. Right now your brothers that sat in these exact seats are fighting in places Kunduz and Ramadi, they’re supporting indigenous and partner forces in struggles throughout the world, and along with these exceptional Partners, we’re leading the fight at the tactical, operational and many times strategic level, simultaneously; that is the charter which you are entrusted with when you put on that Green Beret.
The second point I would offer is that you have learned much over the last year or two but the real learning starts when you get to your Groups. You’ll begin the journeyman phase of your service on your way to mastering our trade. However to be a master, you have to master yourself or in other words, you have to have incredible self-discipline and drive. One of the greatest indicators of success in selection and in the Q course is how well you do on the initial PT test, why is that? My guess is that it’s an event that tests your self-discipline. Those individuals that scored high on the APFT put in the extra time, by themselves, without someone prodding them on, they knew what was required and they did it. I’m sure that applies to the vast majority of individuals seated to my front, you possess that mastery of self. I would offer that need for self-discipline and initiative has just begun. We as leaders are looking for people who cannot just do PT on their own, but they put in the extra time to study and become proficient at their language, they put in the extra time and learn about their trade; the history, the technology and the current doctrine. They keep themselves educated and informed: they read the paper; multiple news outlets, differing perspectives, that is the type of person we’re bringing to the table. Those are the people that we’re looking for. You’re going to learn a lot from your teammates, but remember to leverage the qualities that brought you here, strive for excellence within your team, but also from within yourself.
I’m going to talk about one more thing that makes us special, unique and different. The nation trusts us; the nation has said, at every turn, if there is a difficult problem, messy with no answers, send in Special Forces. That statement is no exaggeration, read the paper, listen to the news, look at our footprint…the nation trusts us with its most difficult problems. For our part, there is an obligation that comes with this bond of trust. It’s the striving for excellence whether in training, on the battlefield or while you’re relaxing with friends and family, a level of personal and professional behavior that is above reproach. The nation, our military and our Army will be watching. And remember; don’t confuse this grant of trust with a right to be arrogant or egotistical. Embrace your charter with a calm yet relentless approach that landed you in the seats to my front.
In closing I’ll just say remember your Families, remember this is your profession, remember the commitment you have made to excellence and remember your obligation to the nation; the nation that will soon entrust you with its most challenging problems. Remember, what you represent and what you’re part of, something much bigger than yourself. Remember that when you put on that Green Beret.
Congratulations and Good Luck.”