SALDANHA South Africa—Maj. General Anthony German, the adjutant general of New York, spent 90 minutes fielding questions from 50 students at the Military Academy of South Africa here during a May 8 visit to the school.
German spoke about the role of the National Guard in the homeland defense of the United States and also about the importance of collaborating with other services and agencies, as well as the nation's role in World War I.
German's remarks were part of the opening session of the African Center for Strategic Studies and Security Institute for Governance and Leadership at Stellenbosch University. The institute focuses on leadership and land and maritime security in Africa.
German's visit was made as part of the partnership between the New York National Guard and the South African National Defense Force that was established in 2003 as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program.
The State Partnership Program pairs state National Guards with militaries in former Warsaw Pact nations and the developing world to create better understanding and strategic partnerships.
German and New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major David Piwowarski visited South Africa from May 6 to 10. During the visit they toured South Africa's Parliament and met with the Consul General for the US Consulate in Cape Town.
Prior to German's speech they toured the grounds of the academy and met with students and faculty members.
Unlike a U.S military academy, the students are comprised of both enlisted and officers. The South African Military Academy is not a source for commissioning officers like West Point, but rather an academic degree-granting program taught by the faculty of military science, which is a full-fledged part of Stellenbosch University.
For the past semester, students at the academy have been studying and examining World War I and the contributions to modern warfare.
German spoke about World War I and the role the New York National Guard played in the war before opening the session to questions from the students.
We Americans don't realize how the rest of the world sees things, but the rest of the world also doesn't realize how Americans see things, German said.
"It is both an honor and an opportunity to receive a visiting general or flag officer and particularly one to speak on a subject that informs our curriculum, " said Professor Ian van der Waag, the school's chair of Security and Africa Studies. "I enjoyed Maj. Gen. German's approach. He has a way of not only addressing the topic but getting the students involved."
German discussed the particulars of warfare from a political and economic standpoint.
Questions ranged from the U.S involvement in conflict for self-interest to technological advances achieved for society such as medical advances and the development of the tank, air power and other weapon advances.
"The general answered every one of my questions and I appreciate that no matter where my stance occurred he presented different views which are exactly what is needed in academic discourse and I hope he visits the academy again," said second year student, Capt. Z. Manona.