“It is our professional obligation as leaders to give our Soldiers the best leadership possible by setting the example and having a resilient mindset with no excuses.” -Lt. Col. David Santos
Lt. Col. David Picar Santos Jr. is the Guam National Guard’s latest graduate of the prestigious U.S. Army War College. With one or two “slots” to attend this school each year, the Guam Guard sends only its most promising senior leaders to this exclusive school. Alongside Maj. Gen. (GU) Esther Aguigui, Lt. Col. Santos is the only currently serving graduate of the Army War College in the Guam National Guard. He takes some time from his busy schedule to talk about his accomplishment in an interview below.
Q: Congratulations on graduating from the U.S. Army War College. What is the War College, who attends it, and what are the classes like?
A: The War College is either a 10-month resident course, or what I did, which was a two-year distance learning course with resident portions. The course provides graduate-level instruction for senior military officers from all services, including military O6 and O5s, State Department civilians and others, to prepare them for senior leadership assignments and responsibilities. Students earn a master’s degree in strategic studies upon successful completion. Each class varies based on the instructor, but the reading and writing assignments are demanding. The war college requires you to manage your time to read, analyze, and write global and strategic level issues.
Q: You accomplished all this while you led an infantry battalion on a deployment, and dealt with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Now you’re a commander of a Troop Command, and the State J5/7. How did you manage to accomplish this simultaneously?
A: It was tough from the beginning because I was preparing my family, my unit, and myself for a deployment, redeployment, and taking another command upon return. First and foremost, I have to thank my family for their tireless support and sacrifices. Taking care of the home front, putting up with daddy being gone or writing papers until midnight – I would never have made it if not for them.
A lot of the credit also goes to my teammates: my staff, commanders, and noncommissioned officers, all of whom I trusted. Trusting the team makes my job easy, because it empowers and inspires them to get the mission done. All I have to do is give them my intent, and they take it from there.
Q: Now that you’re a War College graduate, what does this mean for the Guam National Guard overall? What additional skills can you bring to the table, and what do you hope to accomplish?
A: It basically means that I have the institutional knowledge to share and give back to the organization, our Soldiers, and families. I hope to accomplish a sense of giving back and sharing of knowledge and experience that I’ve learned. Not just from the War College, but my operational experiences, and past and current command tours. It’s all about making the organization better than I received it. It is our professional obligation as leaders to give our Soldiers the best leadership possible by setting the example and having a resilient mindset with no excuses.
Q: I’m a young Soldier thinking about going for a college degree. How do I get from where I am, to where you are?
A: Don’t give up. When you think things are difficult, remember they could always be worse. It will all pay off in the end if you just continue to work hard, learn, and build good relationships.
Q: Anything you else you’d like to say?
Thank you to everyone in the Guard for your service, for your commitment to our Soldiers, Airmen, and organization, and always looking at making things better than you received it.