The Olmsted Vision - Shaping Future Leaders
The United States is one of the major forces in the world today. As a consequence, its military leaders come into contact with citizens and military leaders of many nations. Relationships between nations require a unique consideration of many factors including political, economic and military, among others. It is not enough to know one’s own strengths, weaknesses, and general characteristics. The solutions of difficulties that arise between nations require a knowledge and depth of understanding of the particular nations involved.
To this end, The George and Carol Olmsted Foundation established the Olmsted Scholar Program in 1959 in cooperation with, and support of, the Department of Defense and the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, with the first Scholars selected in that year for study overseas beginning in 1960.
With the passing years and additional funding from General Olmsted's estate, the Olmsted Scholar Program has been enlarged so that each year qualified officers from each service (As of 2007, the Foundation is authorized to support 10 officers each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force and three from the Marine Corps for a potential class size of 33 officers per year as a current goal) are tendered a grant to expand their total educational opportunities during two years of study overseas. The theme for the Program might well be ‘‘Know Your Neighbor.’’ Fundamental to the initial purpose of creating the scholarship program is the conviction that the greatest leaders must be educated broadly.
The concept encompasses the vision of young military officers and their families immersing themselves in a foreign culture while the officer studies in a foreign language in a liberal arts field of his or her choice. In the years following this period of foreign study a scholar may seek a graduate degree; although such action is not required by the Foundation, it is encouraged, in concert with the military departments. In later years, the background and experience gained by the officer should be highly beneficial to their performance on higher echelon staffs or in assignments requiring continuing contact with citizens of the nation in which they studied, in particular, and with citizens of other countries in general. A major bonus is the fact that the Scholar’s family shares this experience.
The interest of the Foundation extends beyond academic study. The Scholar is expected to become familiar with the institutions, characteristics, customs and mores of the people of the country in which the university is located. It is anticipated that warm and enduring friendships will be formed with individuals in the country in which he or she studies. To the extent that studies permit, a scholar is expected to travel extensively and acquire a familiarity with the region of which the country of study is a part.
All of these activities and relationships combine to form a program of broad scope and substantial depth. The benefits to the individuals undergoing the educational experience are self-evident. The benefits to the country and to the Armed Forces of the United States are equally great in my judgment.
GEORGE H. OLMSTED
Major General, USAR, Retired
U.S. Military Academy Class of 1922