Today marks eight months since the Class of 2015 graduation last May 22, and it’s time to start checking in with our newest graduates. While I continue lining up First-Year Alumni updates, let’s hear from one of the student bloggers who completed the MALD last spring. Unlike many of his classmates who are still settling into their new jobs, Liam is in the U.S. Army, and his plans for this year were in place well before he graduated.
With everything going on in my life, it’s hard to believe that only a year ago I was in my last Fletcher semester, deep into my capstone. Since then, I’ve spent the past eight months as a student at the Command and General Staff College (CGSS), the U.S. Army’s professional education program for mid-career officers. Yet, despite being in the middle of Kansas, thousands of miles away from Medford, my Fletcher experience continues to shape my life daily.
First, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute recently published my Fletcher capstone. Focused on how the Army can improve at advising and assisting other nation’s militaries, the monograph was the culmination of work I did in Professor Shultz’s Internal Conflicts and War class and in an independent study I did with him. Although I’m thrilled the paper was published, what I’m more excited about is that it’s making its rounds through the Security Force Assistance community. I recently met with the Director of the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance to discuss the paper, and am in the process of consulting with the team that is re-writing Army doctrine on the topic. For me, it’s a great reward, after putting so much work into my capstone at Fletcher, to have it be read by a wider audience, and I’d encourage current and prospective students to attempt to do the same.
Second, what I learned at Fletcher has a direct impact on my studies here at CGSS. From the basis of national security strategy I gained in Professor Shultz’s classes to the ability think critically through history learned from Professor Khan, I find myself often going back over my Fletcher class notes and readings to gain a better understanding of topics we cover in class. My ability to address complex issues, from humanitarian relief operations to the roots of instability in Europe and everything in between, has been greatly enhanced by the breadth and depth of my Fletcher education. Additionally, last fall we had the pleasure of having Dean Stavridis come talk to all 1,300 officers in our CGSS class about how he sees the 21st century security environment, and it made me incredibly proud to be part of the Fletcher community when my classmates said they thought the Dean gave the best guest lecture we’ve heard. And Fletcher alumni gained a very visible face when General Joe Dunford was named the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last fall.
Last, and most importantly, I got married in December. My wife Christine is an Air Force pilot and we currently live apart while she’s in Colorado and I’m here, but the wedding gave us an opportunity to catch up with several classmates. Shockingly, Kansas is hardly the center of the Fletcher-sphere, so seeing friends after almost a year was great.
My Fletcher experience, from the education to the friendships made over my two years in Medford, sticks with me everyday. As my classmates make their way out into the world and start in their careers, I feel secure knowing that some of the most intelligent, caring, compassionate, and capable people the world has to offer are tackling the tough issues at hand. Also, as the Class Fund Agent for the class of 2015, it’s great to see donations back to the Fletcher Fund already coming from my peers and friends, helping the next generation of students succeed in their pursuit of making the world a better place. Looking back, I have to say that being a student at Fletcher was truly the most incredible experience of my Army career to date.