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Keane Delivers Convocation Speech

by Douglass Gore

The US Naval Postgraduate School’s MBA School invited Michael Keane to be the convocation speaker at its commencement ceremonies in Monterey, CA, on December 16. He spoke on the interrelationship of business and warfare throughout history, remarking on the role of business in conflicts from the Pelopponesian War to the War in Iraq.

A financial strategist who teaches mergers and acquisitions classes at the USC Marshall School of Business, Michael Keane is also an expert on military strategy and the history of warfare. In 2004, he was invited to advise the U.S. occupation in Iraq and soon will embark on a consulting engagement for U.S. interests in Afghanistan.

The division that we create between the worlds of politics, business, and the military, are often completely artificial Keane posited to Naval graduates. “The worlds of business and the military have been intertwined since the beginning of organized conflicts,” he said. “President Harry Truman noted that economic and military security were two halves of the same walnut. That statement succinctly captures the essence of the strategy that successfully concluded the Cold War.”

Keane cited how an entrepreneurially minded Ulysses S. Grant won the Civil war at the Battle of Vicksburg by relying on his prior business experience, not his military education at West Point. In Halliburton-like fashion, Grant orchestrated a program to outsource his supplies to the local community, collecting cotton and corn abandoned on plantations as his troops advanced, shipping the surplus North at a profit and employing thousand of liberated slaves. The enterprising strategy deprived The South of supplies of food and labor and ultimately secured Grant’s victory.

Two years ago, the Navy introduced the MBA studies at its prestigious postgraduate school, which exclusively educates qualified US military officers as well as some international military personnel.

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