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An intellectual Ranger

JBLM reservist wins prestigious award

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Maj. Diana Ellerman, an Army Reserve officer who serves in a training battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, will receive the Army's coveted Pershing Award.

The recognition is bestowed on the most distinguished student from the Command and General Staff College Distance Learning Advanced Operations Course.

"The award recognizes academic rigor, critical thinking and written communications skills," wrote retired Lt. Col. Alex Hobbs, an assistant professor at the college, in an email.

The award consists of a gold Pershing Medallion engraved with the student's name and class and an engraved plate with the student's name added to the Gen. John J. Pershing Award Plaque on display at the Lewis & Clark Building at the Command & General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"Students must display Army officer leadership traits and orchestrate critical operational planning processes," Hobbs added.

The selection process is a significant intellectual accomplishment.

The Department of Distance Education nominates a student from any component or service for the Advanced Operations Course distance-learning (AOC-DL) program three times per year.

Candidates must have a track record of outstanding course performance that clearly sets them apart from the entire yearly number of students who begin the program.

"The AOC is like an intellectual Ranger course," explained retired Lt. Col. Scott Allen, another instructor at the college, during a telephone interview.

The AOC-DL is a yearlong course conducted in a synchronous and asynchronous distance-learning environment.

The course is conducted in small groups of 16 students with one faculty facilitator.

Students collaborate online one night every other week and participate in other collaborative exercises.  

"It is a tough year; the students put their lives on hold; they are fully mentally engaged," continued Allen.

The purpose of the AOC is to develop operational field-grade officers with a war-fighting focus for battalion and brigade commands that are capable of conducting full spectrum operations in joint, multinational and interagency environments.

"Major Ellerman is a dynamic and inspiring student," continued Hobbs. "Her overall student performance was brilliant in the institution of learning; she sets the standard for outstanding performance."

Allen could not have agreed more with Hobbs.

"She's bright -- very, very bright and a credit to the Army," he said.

Her performance will be honored Feb. 17 in an awards ceremony at the Fort Lewis Museum at 10 a.m.

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