Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Maj. William Freakley will be presented the Gen. George S. Patton Jr. Master Tactician Award during the Command and General Staff Officer Course graduation ceremony June 15 on Main Parade.
“It’s humbling,” Freakley said. “I know a lot of the people who participated in it and they’re all extremely strong and competent officers. The competition is so tight and any one of those guys is just as deserving.”
Established in 1983, the award “recognizes that the intricacies of modern warfare have reinforced the Army’s need for exceptional tacticians at all levels,” according to the Command and General Staff College Foundation official website.
The award was named for Patton because of his record for tactical brilliance during World War II, said Lt. Col. Russ Meyer, Master Tactician Award officer-in-charge.
“The competition is a great way for students to test their knowledge,” Meyer said. “It’s also a good test for the faculty to determine if there are gaps in what we instruct.”
“It’s a time intensive competition for all involved, especially the competitors, and participating in it demonstrates dedication to our craft,” he said.
The competition began on Jan. 5, when 119 CGSOC students competed in phase one, which was a written exam that covered basic tactical knowledge.
“The first round was very doctrinal heavy in terms of black and white,” Freakley said. “You know it or you don’t.”
Thirty-three competitors moved on to the second phase March 2 where they had to design solutions to three different tactical problems with only one hour per problem. During this phase, the faculty graded each competitor based on the use of sound doctrine, completeness and innovation.
“That was extremely challenging as a single individual to think through what was important at the right time and then making a decision and going with it,” Freakley said.
Five competitors advanced to the third phase in which they had a week, May 7-11, to take a brigade operations order and turn it into a battalion plan. Freakley said that while each phase had its own challenges, this was by far the most difficult.
“You really notice the absence of having strong peers to your left and right that kind of help pull their weight and integrate the whole staff together to get an actionable product on the other end,” he said.
Meyer said each of the competitors did well, but Freakley stood out.
“(He) stood out among the judges for his level of analysis and ability to discern greater tactical context for the plan he presented,” Meyer said. “He showed a tremendous ability to break down the various parts of each tactical problem and design a plan to achieve his aims.”
Freakley said his time in the CGSOC prepared him for the competition and, in turn, the competition prepared him for his position with the Special Troops Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Benning, Ga., following graduation.
“When I look back into what helped me, it was strong instruction throughout the year with my CGSC instructors, the peers that I worked with and learned from this year and there was an elective I took on decisive action which was extremely helpful for this competition,” he said.
“(The competition) forced me to really do a lot of preparation and self-study from a doctrinal and tactical perspective which is what I owe to the battalion I’m going to — the superiors, peers and subordinates alike. To be able to come in with a better doctrinal grounding is going to be absolutely beneficial.”
“There’s a self-awareness piece to it to know where I was weak going into it and take the opportunity to challenge myself and hopefully get better in those areas,” he said.