The 2021 National Defense University (NDU) graduation ceremonies were held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The four north campus college ceremonies were broadcast separately via Livestream on Thursday, June 10. The official video ceremonies are available on this page, in the left navigation menu.
The University's four north campus colleges conferred certificates and Masters degrees on approximately 700 students.
General John E. Hyten, USAF, the 11th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer, was this year's keynote speaker.
Degrees were conferred upon students by NDU President Lieutenant General Michael T. Plehn, USAF, NDU Provost Dr. Alan Drimmer, and the Commandants and Chancellors of the colleges:
In his introductory remarks, General Plehn told the graduates that, "While graduates of other schools might be measured by their contributions to profitability and shareholder value, your success will be judged by the peace, security, and stability you will help create and maintain around the globe."
Charging the NDU graduates with their future mission as senior leaders, General Hyten listed four concepts that support joint warfighting: information advantage, joint all-domain command and control, integrated fires, and contested logistics. "We have to figure out how to bring those things together into an integrated Joint Warfighting Concept that allows us to deal with any challenge that we have in the future," Hyten said. "This will be your challenge, because I will not be around to see the fruition of those events – of those structures. You have to do that."
General Hyten told the graduates that in taking on the mantle of strategic leadership, they must now "think differently ... about the strategic structure of your country, your nation, your service, your organization, your joint force," and to remember "... they don't serve you. You serve them."
National Defense University is a strategic national resource that prepares senior leaders to think and operate effectively at the highest levels of decision making in an increasingly dynamic, complex, and unpredictable international security environment. It does this by preparing students to understand, develop, and employ strategies that incorporate all elements of national power. This premiere senior leader development is made possible by the University's holistic approach and unique combination of curriculum, location, and student/faculty diversity. Graduates have developed an understanding of the canon of strategic theory and are able to apply and creatively adapt this knowledge to current and future security challenges.