Commodore Errington Shurland, Chief of Staff, induction into the USA CSGC International Hall of Fame

Media Release: BDF Media and Communications| 31 October 2023

The Chief of Staff, Commodore Errington Shurland was inducted into the United States Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) International Hall of Fame, for his contributions to fields of military education, leadership and national security. The ceremony was held at the Lewis and Clark Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Established since 1973, the US CGSC Hall of Fame honours international military officers who have distinguished themselves in their careers and made significant contributions; and by merit, attained the position of leader of their nation’s security and defence forces. The induction into the CGSC Hall of Fame is a prestigious recognition, and those selected have characteristically demonstrated outstanding leadership and have had a lasting impact on the military.

During his remarks Commodore Shurland reminisced on tenure at the College when he attended in 2001. He credits this time as the most impactful and significant professional development programmes in his military career. In his own words, Cdre shared that “the military is not just a job (I am sure that you will all agree); it is a calling, a way of life. It demands dedication, discipline, and a willingness to put others before oneself. It is an honour to serve alongside the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the Barbados Defence Force, and I share this recognition with each and every one of them.” Cdre Shurland noted that his experiences at the College have been instrumental in allowing him to more effectively develop and lead the Barbados Defence Force and the Regional Security System.

As he concluded, Cdre Shurland mentioned that the receipt of this military award is not just an acknowledgment of his individual achievements, but it is a testament to the resilience and dedication of our armed forces as a whole. He encouraged the audience to “let us continue to stand united and strong, protecting the values we hold dear and pursuing a better world for all.”

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Main Lessons Learnt (Commodore Shurland’s Words)

The Commandant General during my time here was General James C Riley. Perfect is the enemy of good enough was a phrase that he used during an introductory speech to jus back in 2001. It was not an original quote (The origins of the phrase are actually from a French proverb by Volatire, which says l’ennemi du bien est le bien) … but that phrase provided me and I am sure several of my class mates some critical guidance.

It was essentially saying not to get caught up in making things perfect and — as a result — never get anything done! Working for a perfectionist often comes with punishing micromanagement, a demand for perfect answers, decision and action paralysis, procrastination, and demoralisation of subordinates and colleagues. Nothing is ever good enough for the perfectionist. So, I can safely say that I am not a perfectionist and never will be.

The second lesson learn was one in dispute resolution and mediation moreso and also diplomacy.

The class of 2002 had 91 international students from 79 countries from Albania to Yemen among the 1200 students. It is not the number of countries that is important…. it was the event that occurred on 11 September 2001. On that fateful morning we were the old Eisenhower Auditorium, nicknamed the “Big Blue Bedroom” for the tendency for students to fall asleep during briefings there. But none of us were asleep as the lecture was interrupted and events of that morning were shown on the big screen.

The tension in the room was palpable eventually turned to anger and accusations in some instances…… given the diversity of nations, religions, political and diplomatic differences in the class of 2002. The Deputy Commandant General was General David Huntoon. He had the responsibility to manage the situation. He did so with a calm assurance utilising tools to manage and resolve concerns, disagreement, and conflict in a constructive manner. He encouraged creative tension and for differences of opinions to be shared. An environment was created allowing all to express their views and the leaders in the International Officer grouping assisted by taking steps to prevent counter-productive confrontations. It allowed for dialogue to facilitate future discussion during the crisis. It ended up with us writing a letter to the leadership of the College which was addressed to General Huntoon. The last paragraph I will cite for you.. “Regardless of nationality, faith or culture, the international officers wholeheartedly and unanimously condemn this terrorist attack against innocent people, freedom, prosperity, and human dignity. We condemn this attack against the United States of America!”

The lesson learnt there was not only dispute resolution and conflict management but also diplomacy and engaging the strength of partnerships.