Army War College Students Speak at Mount Union

March 29, 2012

Members of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) spoke on national security issue topics during a panel discussion at the University of Mount Union on Wednesday evening.

The event, held for the second consecutive year as part of the Eisenhower Series College Program, was co-sponsored by Mount Union’s Ralph and Mary Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement and the Department of Political Science and International Studies. Panelists spent the day on Wednesday interacting with students and faculty members before presenting the panel discussion. While on campus, panelists discussed topics of war, national security, nuclear energy and public policy.

According to carlisle.army.mil, the USAWC is the Army’s ultimate professional development institution that prepares selected military, civilian and international leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational environment. USAWC students are, for the most part, military officers who range in rank from senior captains with 8-10 years of experience through lieutenant generals with 30-35 years of experience.

According to Dr. Larry D. Miller, Alliance native and director of communicative arts at the USAWC, the purpose of the panel discussion is to give USAWC participants an opportunity to meet with the American public and share their views, experiences and opinions.

“Officers need to be accountable to the American public,” Miller said.

Panelists for the event included USAWC students Col. Michael Marti of Ohio; Col. Jon Neumann of Montana and Col. Scotty Patton of Oklahoma. During the presentation, panelists each spoke on their own experiences in the military and issues facing the United States military today. Patton, an artillery officer for 23 years, spent time in Iraq, South Korea, Europe and Hungary, and spoke on the crisis in North Korea. Neumann, who has 23 years of service in the infantry, spoke on examples of leadership in the face of adversity during his recent deployment to Afghanistan. Marti, who has been in the Army for 22 years in various tactical and strategic military intelligence assignments, spoke about the issues facing Iran.

Patton spoke of concerns with the transition in leadership to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after the death of his father.

“He has inherited the bomb,” Patton said, adding that it takes the same type of technology to launch a missile as it does to launch a satellite.

“Why does it matter?” Patton asked. “We get about 25% of our exports from this part of the world. What happens if this regime collapses?”

Neumann gave examples of times when he had to lead in the face of adversity. After being deployed to Afghanistan in the support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009, his battalion suffered casualties almost immediately.  

“In our first 100 days in combat, we encountered 300 significant incidents of enemy contact,” Neumann said. “Twenty-one times we had to grieve, mourn and get right back out into the fight. The Army prepared me for that but not as well as it should have.”

As his battalion got past the fighting and casualties, Neumann said they started having a lot of success — but that success was hard to put into words for the average soldier.

“It’s hard to identify the need to explain how soldiers’ activities were successful,” he said. “It was up to me to better identify what success looked like. Young men see tough days — you owe it to them to share success when it isn’t so obvious.”

As his battalion readied to go home, Neumann said they learned that their job wasn’t over until their last day of deployment. While the battalion was working to switch control to a new battalion, the Taliban was gearing up for a fight. “Operation Blowfish” was launched in an effort to make the American forces look as fierce as possible. However, the Taliban continued to fight anyway. U.S. forces overmatched the Taliban with firepower.

“The challenge was to make sure the soldiers stayed focused until we went home,” Neumann said. “The lesson is that your job isn’t done until you fly out of there.”

Marti, speaking on Iran, said one objective for the country is to maintain regime stability.

“Regime stability and survival is number one,” he said.

Marti said people need to be prepared to live in a world and accept that Iran is going to gain nuclear weapon capability. He noted the importance of the United States keeping open communication with Iran so the country doesn’t become paranoid of the U.S.

Following the presentation, panelists answered questions and interacted with the audience. The program is an academic outreach initiative offered by the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Each year, a team of students and a faculty moderator from the War College travel to about a dozen universities to share dialogue on public policy issues and national security. The team is chosen based on experience, speaking ability, education and interest in national security issues.  

U.S. Army War College 2012

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