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Meet 1-2 SBCT’s new commander

Col. Kwenton Kuhlman and servant leadership

Col. Kwenton Kuhlman, commander, 1st Brigade, 2nd Stryker Combat Team, believes that integrity, trust and leadership development strengthens the brigade’s readiness to respond. Photo credit: JM Simpson

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The coffee cup with the Farmall tractor on the side reminded Col. Kwenton Kuhlman of his grandfather.

"That was the tractor he had on his farm, and I recall growing up as a kid going down and helping," began 1st Brigade, 2nd SBCT's new commander. "It taught me to be humble; that sometimes you are required to roll up your sleeves and do hard work."

He added that the service required of soldiers can be hard and as a leader he is willing to share hardship.

"Your soldiers may be doing something that is difficult, and if you are the leader you need to be at the point of friction," continued Kuhlman.

He also pointed out that his grandfather valued integrity and that this quality is important to him because it establishes trust.

"This is important to me. As officers, and NCOs and soldiers alike, when we tell each other something it must be the truth," he explained. "I have to be able to trust the soldiers and leaders, and they have to be able to trust me, that mutual trust is important, and I think trust is the bedrock of integrity."

This foundation of integrity informs Kuhlman's beliefs in servant leadership, which he views as a privilege.

"In the Ghost Brigade we are entrusted with about 4,800 sons and daughters, and we are to use our position - and in my case as brigade commander - for good, to help other people," he said.

Kuhlman's sense of servant leadership springs from a family background where public service is valued. His great uncle served in World War II; his uncle served in Vietnam; and parents served as public school teachers.

This family history led him to West Point. During his sophomore year, he decided to major in international relations after a thought-provoking conversation with a man from a different country and perspective.

"If I was going to be a leader, and if we're going to lead and carry out our nation's foreign policy, I thought that would be something I actually ought to know what I'm talking about," he explained.

Kuhlman also had the opportunity to travel to Africa to work in refugee camps and experience the difference between the classroom and the real world.

"It was no longer what was just in books; there was a world out there; there was a bigger world than I had been able to experience before."

After graduation and receiving his commission, Kuhlman's career path led to multiple commands as well as graduate education in international studies.

With his education and experience, he is now focused on building good leaders to lead cohesive teams by listening and learning while emphasizing selflessness and discipline.

"We live in a dangerous world, and this brigade ... has to be ready to respond to international events and be prepared to fight and win. We have to be ready for anything."

To meet the brigade's mission, Kuhlman's second goal is to oversee a modernization program and the training involved.

"We will come out the other end of that thing with the most modern Stryker brigade in the United States Army," he added.

Before closing, Kuhlman took the time to express his gratefulness to the surrounding municipal communities.

"The first day I was in command of the Ghost Brigade I was met by leaders from the Lacey community, and I look forward to continuing to build that relationship," he said.

"We are grateful for the community they provide."

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