ARNSF recounts lessons learned from 2011 drawdown in Iraq
The CGSC Foundation’s Simons Center hosted an Arter-Rowland National Security Forum (ARNSF) luncheon event on March 8, 2023, at the Mission Hills Country Club in Kansas City.
Simons Center Director Bob Ulin welcomed the ARNSF members, some of whom also introduced their guests. As lunch was winding down Ulin introduced the guest speaker, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert L. Caslen, Jr., a former Fort Leavenworth commander/CGSC commandant. (See full bio below)
In this presentation of the Forum, Caslen conducted a presentation entitled “The Impossible Mission: The Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq and the 2011 U.S. Forces Drawdown in Iraq.” Caslen discussed the challenges and lessons learned in the mission in the early days after U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011. With no residual U.S. force left, Caslen, then serving as the chief of the OSC-I, and his 150 personnel were left holding the proverbial bag for a large-scale security assistance mission that a theater headquarters and more than 40,000 U.S. troops had been performing just weeks before. Complicating the situation were the Iraqi prime minister’s actions to purge Sunni leaders from his administration and other actions which all led to a new crisis and the rebirth of ISIS which forced the reintroduction of U.S. troops into the country a mere two and a half years later.
After the presentation and a question and answer period, Ulin closed out the luncheon with a short brief about the schedule for future gatherings of the Forum. Caslen remained on-hand to autograph some copies of his book The Character Edge – Leading and Winning with Integrity.
Caslen’s visit with the CGSC Foundation and the Simons Center began the day prior to the ARNSF. After his arrival on March 7, he was provided with an orientation briefing on the Simons Center by Simons Center Director Bob Ulin and Deputy Director John Nelson, along with CGSC Foundation Chair Bryan Wampler and President/CEO Rod Cox. Caslen was certainly familiar with the Simons Center as he was the Fort Leavenworth commander/CGSC Commandant who presided over the Center’s ribbon cutting ceremony on April 21, 2010. Additionally, he was brought on board as a Simons Center Fellow in 2022. After the briefing the Foundation leadership escorted him to a dinner in downtown Leavenworth with the current Fort Leavenworth Commander/CGSC Commandant Lt. Gen. Milford Beagle and CGSC Deputy Commandant Brig. Gen. David C. Foley.
On March 8, after his ARNSF presentation he conducted an informal discussion with members of the CGSC Foundation board of trustees who were in attendance. Immediately after his time with the ARNSF he was escorted to Park University to meet the Park University Shane Smeed, who is also a Foundation trustee. While at Park he toured the Global Warrior Center and the George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War and received an update on Park’s “Valor Medals Review Project.” Later in the evening he was the guest of honor at another dinner hosted by CGSC Foundation leadership.
On March 9, Caslen spent time in CGSC with the School for Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) and its Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program (ASLSP), participated in a podcast hosted by the Director of the CGSS Department of Command and Leadership Col. (Ret.) Andy Shoffner and Dr. Trent Lythgoe, received an overview briefing from the School for Command Preparation, and conducted an office call with CGSC Deputy Commandant Brig. Gen. Foley. Later that evening he attended a “Plato’s Cave” dinner event in downtown Leavenworth hosted by Dr. Andy Lowman with SAMS/ASLSP and CGSOC students, faculty, and selected retirees.
On March 10, prior to his departure, Caslen attended a Women’s History Month luncheon with the Kansas City Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army with guest speaker Norma Donlon, wife of Medal of Honor recipient and former CGSC Foundation trustee Col. (Ret.) Roger Donlon.
Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., was commissioned as an infantry officer in the United States Military Academy class of 1975. He served in the U.S. Army for 43 years retiring in 2018 as the 59th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Before becoming the West Point Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Caslen served as the chief of the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, and was commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth and commandant of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Caslen also commanded the 25th Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was chief of staff of both the 101st Airborne and the 10th Mountain Divisions, where he also served as chief of staff of Task Force Mountain during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He also served in combat and overseas deployments in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Honduras, and Operation Uphold Democracy and the United Nations Mission in Haiti. After his military retirement he served as the 29th president of the University of South Carolina.
Caslen holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Long Island University and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Kansas State University. In addition to his many military awards and accomplishments, Caslen is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy, a member of the Kansas State Engineering College Hall of Fame and co-authored the book, The Character Edge – Leading and Winning with Integrity. He was born in Connecticut, and grew up in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. He has been married to the former Michele Pastin, from Highland Falls, New York, for 45 years and has three adult sons and five grandchildren.
The Arter-Rowland National Security Forum (ARNSF) is led by the CGSC Foundation’s Simons Center and is an exclusive professional information sharing and networking forum for senior executives.
Members of the Forum and their guests meet periodically at guest speaker events in downtown Kansas City. National and regional guest speakers representing all elements of national power (Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic) highlight the meetings. The Forum is nonpartisan, but elected government officials may present from time to time.
The Forum is named after Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Arter, Founding Chairman of the CGSC Foundation, and Mr. Landon Rowland, the Foundation’s first major donor who was well-known in Kansas City for his keen interest in national security issues and his leadership in business and philanthropy.
ARNSF events are only open to ARNSF members and their guests. If you are not a member but are interested in joining, contact Bob Ulin at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Forum page on the Simons Center website for more information.
The Arter-Rowland National Security Forum is cohosted by the CGSC Foundation’s Simons Center and the Kansas City Chapter of the Association of the United States Army (KCAUSA).
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