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Monday 7 November 2011
Senior Course 119 Field Study II: Washington DC
The Transatlantic Field Study for NDC Senior Course 119 continued in Washington D.C., from 3-5 November 2011. Bus troubles and great weather combined to make the journey to America’s capital city a memorable one, and the rewarding itinerary in Washington enabled Course Members to visit Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, and the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks Washington.
On 3 November, the first briefing took place on Capitol Hill, where Course Members received an informative briefing from the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives, Mr. Matt WASNIEWSKI. Mr. WASNIEWSKI provided a fascinating history of the U.S. Congress and enabled a great intellectual atmosphere for the ensuing discussions.
The next series of briefings provided SC 119 with a full spectrum of Democratic and Republican perspectives, from both houses of Congress. First to brief was Mr. Bill MONAHAN, professional staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who works for Democratic Senator Carl LEVIN. He was followed by Mr. Paul ARCANGELI, minority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). Both staffers provided valuable insights into how the committees work and the broad portfolio of security issues they deal with.
Course Members were also privileged to meet Senator Lindsey GRAHAM (Republican- South Carolina) and the Honorable Michael GRIMM (Republican- New York). Both the Senator and the Congressman offered interesting perspectives on issues concerning NATO, U.S. foreign policy, and the impacts of the current financial climate on US and Allied governments and militaries. After the congressional briefings and an enlightening tour of the Capitol Building, the group moved to the White House compound.
NDC Spouses enjoyed a special White House tour, while Course Members, faculty and staff attended significant briefings by members of the Obama administration’s national security staff. The briefers, assigned to the National Security Council, were: Colonel Eric WESLEY (USA), Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Colonel Steven MISKA (USA), Director for Iraq; and Colonel Thomas GOFFUS (USAF), Director for European Security Affairs.
At the end of a long and productive day, the group attended a splendid reception at the “8th and I” Marine Corps Barracks Washington, hosted by U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Frank PANTER, Jr. (Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics). Several general officers and numerous Anciens attended the event, engaging NDC staff, Course Members and their spouses throughout the evening.
On Friday, 4 November, the group visited the Pentagon for several U.S. Joint Staff briefings. After an impressive tour of the enormous building, SC 119 was welcomed by Lieutenant General Robert NELLER (USMC), the Director for Operations (J-3, Joint Staff). Lieutenant General NELLER was followed by the Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5), Major General Salvatore “Sam” ANGELELLA. The two US generals provided interesting overviews of joint military operations and US strategic direction, respectively. The generals also engaged Course Members in informative discussion periods.
The next briefing was delivered by Ms. Julianne SMITH, Principal Director for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Ms. SMITH (an expert who frequently briefs NDC Senior Courses during field studies) covered numerous NATO-related issues, from Libya to the upcoming Chicago summit, and entertained an abundance of SC 119 questions.
The final Pentagon briefers were from the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell, and addressed US and ISAF Operations in Afghanistan. Colonel Steve PITT (USA) and Colonel Peter CONNELY (Australia) delivered a thorough overview of ongoing operations and offered their assessments for the road ahead in Afghanistan. Course Members actively questioned the briefers, culminating this highly instructive session at the Pentagon. The group finished the day with visits to the Pentagon Memorial to the victims of 9-11, and to Arlington National Ceremony for the changing of the guard ceremony, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
After the official events concluded, Course Members and staff visited the many monuments and museums that Washington D.C. has to offer, while 40 members of the group joined the Commandant for a tour of the famous Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The group enjoyed the historical reflections of the US Army War College’s Dr. John BONIN, who guided the group on an illuminating battlefield tour.
The Commandant of the NATO Defense College, Lieutenant General Arne Bård DALHAUG, thanked all of the participants for sharing time from their busy schedules with the NATO Defense College. He also thanked Lieutenant General WISSLER and the U.S. Marine Corps for organizing this highly beneficial leg of the Field Study.
For the next phase of the SC 119 Transatlantic Field Study, the group will visit Norfolk, Virginia and the Headquarters of Allied Command Transformation, prior to returning to Europe for the final phase - in Brussels.
More about the Field Study:
First stop - New York