Fort Leavenworth Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot has pledged $6.1 million to a private foundation to pay for programs at Fort Leavenworth’s Command and General Staff College.
Army majors spend 10 months at the school to prepare for unit command or staff positions. The college also has educated more than 7,100 international officers who have gone on to lead their militaries and, in some cases, nations.
Perot’s pledge will help the Army expand ethics training for officers and bolster communication and cooperation between the military and government agencies, such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and State Department. Several agency employees are currently enrolled in the 10-month course of instruction.
He made the pledge after visiting the college’s Lewis and Clark Center late last month and discussing history with a class of officers.
“That was the best part of the day,” Perot said in a telephone interview Friday from his office in Texas. “They’re doing a great job, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The money will go to the nonprofit Command and General Staff College Foundation, which is in midst of a five-year campaign to raise $10.5 million. Money raised will be matched with the proceeds from the sale of a commemorative coin series honoring the nation’s five-star generals. The coin program must be authorized by Congress and is expected to begin in 2013.
‘A whole new level’
Robert Ulin, the foundation’s chief executive and a retired Army colonel, said Friday that Perot’s pledge was “huge.”
“This creates enormous momentum for us,” Ulin said “It will afford us to fill all the gaps that exist at the college to ensure that the officers there receive the best possible education. It will take it to a whole new level.”
The money will go to the Col. Arthur D. Simons Center for the Study of Interagency Cooperation and the Gen. Hugh Shelton Chair in Ethics. Simons, a special forces officer, is noted for his rescue of prisoners in Vietnam in 1970 and two of Perot’s employees, who were held prisoner in Iran in 1979.
Shelton is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a close friend of Perot’s.
Perot, 79, graduated in 1953 from the U.S. Naval Academy and served four years before beginning his business career.
Brig. Gen. Edward Cardon, deputy commandant of the college, said the interagency center and ethics professor were two areas that the Army is focusing on in educating officers. The center will build on strides that the college has made in recent years to enroll more students from government agencies and improve those agencies’ cooperation with the military.
Ulin said the center would conduct research on improving interagency activities at the tactical and operational level, which will be helpful in current operations worldwide.
The foundation was established in 2005 to support the Army’s efforts to educate U.S. and international officers.
Ulin said the purpose is not to replace federal funding for the college, but to provide additional resources to enhance learning and research by the nation’s military officers.
The foundation raised more than $4 million in its first three years before Perot’s pledge, most of it coming from civilians with no military experience, Ulin said.
The foundation selected Perot to receive a distinguished leadership award in 2010 for his public service before the businessman made his pledge, Ulin said.