I am spending the summer between my first and second year of graduate school as an intern at the U.S. Army War College. The War College hosts colonels who have been specially selected for the 1 year masters program at the school, and it is necessary for advancement. There are also about 70 international fellows from militaries around the world, as well as a small number of students from civilian programs like Department of State and a few from the other services like the Navy. The War College is located on Carlisle Barracks, which is the nation’s second oldest active army base. It is located in Carlisle, PA, which is a very small town that unfortunately doesn’t have much to do, but does have a surprisingly good Belgian restaurant.
I am working with the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (http://pksoi.army.mil/). The institute serves as the US Army’s Center of Excellence for Stability and Peace Operations at the Strategic and Operational levels in order to improve military, civilian agency, international, and multinational capabilities and execution. One of the most interesting things for me has been working with people who are in the military, or people who have retired from the military. They have a different perspective, and frankness, than you can typically experience in a university setting.
One thing that PKSOI does is develop and review Army doctrine. To be honest, this aspect is dry. If you have ever read an Army field guide, you will understand what I mean. The doctrine is full of great ideas, but lacks descriptions of how to make these ideas work in practice. My project is looking at this doctrine and examining the underlying biases within it, especially as it concerns working with other governmental agencies. Before working on this project, I knew that there were problems between the Department of Defense and the Department of State, but I hadn’t realized how poorly they worked together.
One example comes from the planning of the Iraq War. The State Department came up with a project called the “Future of Iraq” where they gathered lots of experts and came out with a long document that detailed their views on Iraq and what a post conflict Iraq would look like. This document accurately described many things that ended up happening. Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at the time, sent two of the people in charge of the project to the Pentagon to discuss it, and Donald Rumsfeld actually kicked them out of the building.
I’ll be returning to give more details about this project later in the summer, and will give an update on how the internship is going later as well.