Currently viewing the tag: "ISSP"

Continuing to shamelessly take advantage of the rare summer when we have a student or recent graduate working in the office, I asked Rafael to tell us about his experience with the International Security Studies Program.  Here’s what he had to say.  (Note that we all use “international security studies” to refer, alternately and confusingly, to both the Field of Study and the program that offers out-of-class programming.)


Jessica asked me to write about security studies at Fletcher, and this is a great opportunity for me to reflect upon my 21 months as a MALD student.  One thing to note, though, is that I can provide only my own perspective, simply because there is so much to experience and learn here in security studies and related fields.

But first a little bit of history.

Though the study of peace and security had been part of the Fletcher curriculum since its founding in 1933, the International Security Studies Program (ISSP) was formally established only in 1971, at a time when the U.S. was deeply divided by the Vietnam War.  Since then, course offerings and research interests have evolved as the global political landscape has changed.  Professor Richard Shultz, Director of the ISSP, and Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff reflected on the ISSP’s history in a special edition of The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs on the School’s 80th anniversary back in 2013.

In 2000, under the leadership of then Dean John Galvin, who, like the current Dean James Stavridis, held the post of Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Fletcher founded the Institute for Human Security (IHS), currently led by Professor Eileen Babbitt.  IHS brings together students and faculty specializing in areas as diverse as law, politics, public health, psychology, and economics to conduct cutting edge research, education, and policy engagement on today’s global challenges, with an ultimate focus on the well-being of all human beings.

The most recent institutional addition to security studies at Fletcher is the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS).  Established just this year by Professor Monica Toft, CSS aims to generate cutting-edge scholarly analysis that broadens the U.S. foreign policy debate.  Having just graduated, I will sadly miss the great research and programming through which CSS will enrich the Fletcher community.  Fortunately, during my last semester, I had the pleasure of participating in Professor Toft’s half-semester seminar on Current Topics in International Relations and Security Policy.  Because the course allowed me to revisit many topics I had studied over the prior two years, it provided a nice conclusion to my career in security studies at Fletcher.

But as for so many ISSP folks, it all began on a Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. in The Role of Force in International Politics, the core course of the International Security Studies Field of Study taught by Professor Shultz, and a tour de force through the conceptual foundations and history of security studies as well as an introduction to U.S. security policy.  The following spring, I audited Policy and Strategy in the Origins, Conduct, and Termination of War (commonly known here as “Shultz II”), a history of war from Thucydides to Frederick C. Weyand.

To complete and complement my security studies curriculum, I took The Historian’s Art and Current Affairs, which teaches students empathy, detachment, and skepticism in their reading of historical events, Religion and Politics, and Nuclear Dossiers: U.S. Priorities, Dilemmas and Challenges in a Time of Nuclear Disorder.  I also took the opportunity to venture beyond Fletcher and cross-registered for several courses at Harvard.

While the above-mentioned courses fulfill International Security Studies Field requirements, others allowed me to tailor the curriculum to my interests.  In Gender Theory and Praxis, I researched masculinities and private military and security companies.  In The Art and Science of Statecraft, with a group of fellow students, I developed an index to predict state instability in light of refugee flows.

The extensive course offerings, however, reflect only one aspect of the Fletcher experience.  The ISSP, IHS, and soon, the CSS also provide opportunities for experiential learning and interaction with seasoned practitioners.  For example, Fletcher is home to an annual crisis simulation, SIMULEX, where student teams, mentored by senior military officers, manage various conflicts that compete for their attention.  ISSP also hosts several military fellows from throughout the U.S. armed forces, and organizes regular luncheons on all things security.  Students themselves run several organizations such as Fletcher Students in Security, Fletcher Veterans, the New England chapter of Women In International Security, and the Fletcher Security Review.  And finally, Fletcher is the home for the World Peace Foundation, which conducts research and offers programming of interest to security studies students.

Additionally, students may work with professors as research or teaching assistants.  I had the pleasure of supporting the ISSP as a research assistant throughout my time at Fletcher, examining conflict escalation and coalition management in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific-Asia region.  I also got to serve as a teaching assistant for Professors Shultz and Pfaltzgraff’s GMAP course on Security Studies and Crisis Management — a terrific opportunity to interact with senior-level practitioners from all over the world — and Professor Pfaltzgraff’s International Relations: Theory and Practice.  Though I was lucky to find a job at Fletcher right after arriving here, many students eventually, for a semester or two, work as research or teaching assistants.  Whether the positions are formally announced or informally arranged, if you are interested in working at Fletcher, be pro-active about it and ask.  Even if nothing is available at the time, at least professors will remember you and might get back to you when an opportunity arises.

When it came time for me to decide which graduate school I wanted to attend, Fletcher’s diverse and flexible curriculum, the School’s location, and the strong sense of community ultimately led me to Medford.  I believe that these aspects are equally reflected in security studies at Fletcher, with its close relationship with other schools in the area, and the friendships that emerge between students, faculty, administrators, and military fellows.

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Today I’m happy to turn back to the Faculty Spotlight feature.  Professor Robert Pfaltzgraff is the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School and President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, a research organization based in Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC.  Professor Pfaltzgraff currently teaches International Relations: Theory and Practice and Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies.  He also teaches the Security Studies course for Fletcher’s Global Master of Arts Program.

Because Fletcher encompasses the world of the theorist and the policymaker, the scholar and the practitioner, it is an ideal setting to bring the academic into sharper focus with the policy community and vice versa.  This is what has always shaped both my teaching at The Fletcher School and my work directly with the policy community as President of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.  We learn from the insights, wisdom, and experience of others and from our own successes and failures — from observing and from doing.  Both Fletcher and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis have given me great and unique opportunities in both communities to share with students and others.

pfaltzgraff-classroomAt Fletcher my teaching spans the Political Systems and Theories and International Security Studies fields.  My International Relations Theory course challenges students not only to understand the theories themselves but also to relate them to the world of today.  Through the lens of theory we may gain perspectives or ways of understanding, analyzing, and simply thinking about the policy issues and choices of the day, related to fundamentally important topics such as international conflict and cooperation, as well as war and peace.

My teaching in the International Securities Studies field is also designed to bridge theory and practice.  My Crisis Management seminar addresses such topics as the twenty-first-century crisis map contrasted with previous eras, including the Cold War, as well as the role of military force and diplomacy, to mention only several of the major topics that we study.  There is an extensive literature about crisis escalation, decision-making, strategizing, and lessons learned from past crises that we survey.  In addition to team presentations, we conduct an annual weekend crisis simulation that brings together up to 200 outside participants and other members of the Fletcher community.  This provides a great opportunity to test and fine-tune what we have (or should have) learned in class about how to manage international crises.  Here we have an opportunity to learn on the job, so to speak — to develop skills and ways of thinking that could be useful to the future crisis decision-makers that many of our students will become.  In this and other International Securities Studies activities, we draw heavily on practitioners and others from the military and policy communities both from outside Fletcher and our students, who, I should add, bring a rich set of experiences and backgrounds and therefore learn from each other.

There has also been a two-way street, a synergistic relationship, between my work at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and my Fletcher teaching experience.  Our many Institute conferences, seminars, and workshops, together with research on such topics as escalation, proliferation, military force structures, strategy, alliance relationships, technological innovation and military affairs, and regional security issues from NATO-Europe to the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific area have given me a wealth of information, insights, and greater understanding to share with my classes and others in the academic and policy communities.  By the same token, I have always learned much from my students, many of whom have achieved positions of senior political and military leadership in the United States and abroad.

My bottom line is that I know of no better educational setting than Fletcher in which to bring together the worlds of theory and practice — to learn how to think and to act, understanding of course that creative thought is the necessary prerequisite to successful action in and among all of the fields of our multidisciplinary curriculum.

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I was so wrapped up last week with responding to suggestions readers provided in my survey (additional suggestions will still be appreciated) that I neglected to make note of one of the biggest events at Fletcher each year: Simulex.  I realized my omission when I arrived at work this morning and was greeted with a sign, leftover from Saturday, saying that the entire School was booked for the day, leaving only Ginn Library for anyone not participating.

What is Simulex?  It’s a crisis management exercise, open to students with all curricular interests (that is, not limited to Security Studies).  The International Security Studies Program also invites alumni and others working in relevant fields to participate alongside students and to offer guidance and relevant information.  But before the event even starts, participants must prepare by reading the background scenario, which this year concerned a “Crisis in the Western Pacific/East Asia Region.”  Though the event has passed, I still recommend checking out the information and putting it into your mental calendar for the fall semester after you enroll.

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At Fletcher, we refer to International Security Studies in two ways.  First, as the Field of Study that is among the most commonly pursued by students.  Second, for the International Security Studies Program, which offers extremely robust programming throughout the year.  Despite the important place that Security Studies (in both its meanings) occupies at Fletcher, I have not always done my part in spreading the word.  Making up for that lapse is going to be a focus of my blog work for 2015-16, and there’s no time like the present to start.  To do so, I reached out to my old friends, Prof. Shultz and Prof. Pfaltzgraff to ask for information.  It happened they had just completed a report for one of the organizations that funds their work (and that of many master’s-level and PhD students).  Today, I’m going to share excerpts of that report.  This is a long post, but the extra length is needed to capture the broad scope of ISSP activites.

International Security Studies at The Fletcher School

With the beginning of 2015-16, the International Security Studies Program (ISSP) will enter its 45th year at The Fletcher School, and International Security Studies remains at the cutting edge of The Fletcher School’s multidisciplinary curriculum.  Through its many graduates and other efforts, ISSP has a major impact in shaping strategic thought and analysis in and beyond the political-military affairs community.  Many ISSP graduates have gone on to important positions of responsibility in the United States and abroad, including General Joseph Dunford, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and currently Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Course Offerings & Curriculum Development

ISSP offers a range of courses that examine conflict and war; strategy and statecraft; crisis management; regional security; intelligence; homeland security; proliferation; national security decision making; and terrorism.  Our courses are theoretical and policy-oriented, as well as historical and contemporary, and reflect and anticipate a rapidly changing security environment, while providing instruction on the basic and timeless issues of strategy, statecraft, conflict, and war.  During the 2014-2015 academic year, seventeen courses were offered in International Security Studies or closely related areas including: The Role of Force in International Politics, International Humanitarian Law; Internal Conflicts and War; Proliferation-Counterproliferation and Homeland Security Issues; The Evolution of Grand Strategy; Foundations of International Cybersecurity; The Strategic Dimensions of China’s Rise; Modern Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism; Peace Operations; Foreign Relations and National Security Law.  In support of our curriculum, ISSP sponsors a high-level guest lecture series, an annual conference, a colloquium series, a crisis simulation exercise, and occasional field trips.

ISSP Student Research Supervision

During the 2014-2015 academic year the Security Studies faculty supervised a large number of student research papers, including seven MA theses and 15 MALD Capstone Projects.  Currently 18 students are working on PhD dissertations under supervision of Security Studies faculty.  Between 1971 and 2015 a total of 201 dissertations in the ISSP were completed and the PhD awarded.  International Security Studies remains among the most popular fields as well as the largest Field of Study at Fletcher.

Military Fellows

During the 2014-2015 academic year nine mid-level officers were assigned to the ISSP in lieu of spending a year at one of the various service War Colleges.  This year’s group included two Air Force, one Navy, four Army, and one National Guard officer, and one senior official from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  The mid-career military fellows, who pursue special research projects at Fletcher, bring an unusual set of experiences, expertise, and knowledge that adds greatly to our curriculum.

“Outside the Classroom” Educational Programs

Beyond its course offerings, the ISSP sponsors various “outside-the-classroom” activities designed to enrich the education of our students by addressing the emerging issues of 21st century international security.

IFPA-Fletcher Conference Series

Central to our programmatic activities are high-level conferences.  These conferences help to publicize the Security Studies field in the broader national security/foreign policy communities.  This year the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA) and ISSP joined together to organize and facilitate “Symposium on New Dynamics in Japanese Security Policy,” a one-day symposium at Fletcher to promote an informed exchange of views on the new dynamics of Japan’s security policy and their implications for U.S.-Japanese strategic cooperation going forward.

The symposium provided a unique opportunity for a select group of Japanese and American policy experts, academics, business leaders, and officials to review and explain in some depth key aspects of the Abe administration’s defense and foreign policy reforms aimed at facilitating Japan’s emergence as a “proactive contributor to peace” at both the regional and global levels.  The Honorable Hideshi Tokuchi, F86, Vice Minister for International Affairs at Japan’s Ministry of Defense, was the keynote speaker for the luncheon.

Crisis Simulation Exercise (SIMULEX)

Simulex1Each year, as part of the seminar on Crisis Management and Complex Emergencies, ISSP includes a weekend crisis simulation exercise.  The 40th anniversary of SIMULEX event was held on November 7-8, 2014 and had more than 160 participants from The Fletcher School and the outside community.  The scenario was entitled “Baltic Crisis and a Chaotic Middle East.”

Speakers Program

Lectures by outside experts on topics related to international security remain an important dimension of ISSP.  These presentations, usually in a luncheon/lecture setting, take place throughout the academic year.  Our objective is to draw speakers from a broad cross-section of the professional civilian and military communities, and to design the lecture format in such a way as to give our students maximum opportunity to meet with such experts.  Among the speakers sponsored by the ISSP during the 2014-2015 academic year were:

Fall Semester:
Major General Yaakov Amidror, former Israeli National Security Advisor: Israel’s Security Challenge.
Dr. Daniel Fine, Research Associate at the Mining and Minerals Resources Institute, MIT: Geopolitics of Russian Oil and Gas: Limits of Sanctions and Counter-Sanctions.
Sigrid Kaag, former Special Coordinator of the joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and United Nations mission to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic: Effective Multilateralism, The Experience of Chemical Weapons Elimination in Syria.
VADM Frank C. Pandolfe, Director for Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5), Joint Staff: Global Trends and International Security.
A
DM Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations: The Future of Naval Operations.
Dr. David McKean, Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State: Foreign Policy Challenges in a Changing World.
Dr. Alexander Mirtchev, president of Krull Corp., USA: Rebalancing the Global Security Disequilibrium: Dealing with the Challenges to the Post-Cold War Order in the Universally-Securitized World.
Dr. Hassan Abbas, F02, F08, professor and chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies at National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs: Taliban and ISIS: A Comparative Analysis and Future Prospects.
Rebecca Ulam Weiner, Director of Intelligence Analysis for the NYPD Intelligence Bureau: Al Qa’eda and ISIS Messaging to the West.

Spring Semester:
Slobodan Djinovic and Srdja Popovic, Chairman and Executive Director respectively of CANVAS (the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies): Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in the 21st Century: Lessons Learned from the Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Hong Kong.
General Joseph Votel, Commanding General of the U.S. Special Operations Command: USSOCOM and the Challenges Associated with Russian Aggression.
General Knud Bartels, current Chairman of the NATO Military Committee: Security Challenges facing NATO.
General Frank Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau: The Modern Day Minuteman — The National Guard in the 21st Century.
Major General and Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, former Director of Defence R&D in the Israeli Ministry of Defence, and currently professor at the University of Tel-Aviv and Deputy Director of the Hartog School of Government and Policy: The Israeli Cyber Ecosystem: Combining Industry, Government, and Academia.
Lt. General John Nicholson, Commander of Allied Land Command (LANDCOM), NATO: An overview of NATO’s Land Command, its mission and priorities, and Russia’s Impact on NATO.
NATO Parliamentarians Conference, featuring:

Dr. Robert Legvold, Visiting Professor, The Fletcher School, and Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Columbia University: Perspectives on U.S.Russian Relations.
Dr. Kostas A. Lavdas is Professor of Hellenic and European Studies, The Fletcher School, and Professor of European Politics and Director of the Centre for Political Research and Documentation (KEPET) at the University of Crete: A Transatlantic Relationship for the 21st Century: Advancing Collective Security through Complementarity and Effective Burden Sharing.
Dr. Sung-yoon Lee, F94, F98, is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies, and Assistant Professor, The Fletcher School: Five Myths about North Korea.

Fellowships to ISSP Students

With support from several external foundations and fellowships, during the 2014-2015 academic year, ISSP granted tuition assistance and research support to a total of 39 master’s-level and PhD students, along with support for two student-organized academic activities.

Planned Activities (as of June 2015)

On November 13-14, 2015, ISSP will hold our annual weekend simulation, Simulex 2015.

In 2015-2016, ISSP will host one Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel, one Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, one Army Lieutenant Colonel, and one Army Colonel as senior research fellows, in lieu of their studies at the Army War College, along with one Navy Federal Executive Fellow.

Faculty

Prof. Shultz and Dean StavridisThe core ISSP faculty is comprised of three professors: Richard Shultz, Director of the ISSP and Professor of International Politics; Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of International Security Studies; and Antonia Chayes, Professor of Practice in International Politics and Law.  In addition, ISSP faculty includes two adjunct professors: Toshi Yoshihara, F04, John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies and professor of strategy in the Strategy and Policy Department at the U.S. Naval War College; and James Forest, Director and Professor of Security Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell.

ISSP has also added to its core faculty a new Professor of Practice, Michelle Malvesti, F00. Professor Malvesti worked for several years in the U.S. Intelligence Community as a Middle East terrorism analyst at the Joint Special Operations Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  More recently her government service included Senior Director for Combating Terrorism Strategy for the Directorate for Combating Terrorism in the National Security Council, where she advised President Bush and his administration on US counterterrorism policy and strategy.  During the Obama Administration she co-chaired the Presidential study review that reformed the White House organization for homeland security and counter terrorism.

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Launched only about a year ago, the Fletcher Security Review is the School’s newest student-run publication.  The Winter 2015 issue is now available.  Check it out, and keep up with the FSR commentary on Twitter.

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Liam, 2014-2Student blogger, Liam, is a current member of the military.  For his first blog of his second year in the MALD program, he describes Fletcher life for veterans and active duty officers — the perfect topic for today’s Veterans Day holiday.

Veterans at Fletcher, while always a portion of the student body (Dean Stavridis, after all, is both a Fletcher MALD/PhD and a retired Navy admiral), are a small community within the school that has nonetheless grown steadily in recent years.  While the incoming class of 2013 was relatively light on active duty officers, it included many veterans, some remaining in the reserves and others completely transitioned from military service.  The incoming class of 2014 had an even larger veteran (and active duty) contingent, and the presence of veterans — both U.S. and international — at Fletcher helps add to the diversity of an already incredible student body.

From real-world experience and operational background in both training and combat, to advanced leadership and organizational skills, to past experience traveling the world and working with many cultures, the contributions that veterans make at Fletcher are invaluable, especially when combined with all the other incredible members of the Fletcher student body.

When I first arrived at Fletcher, I personally felt that nothing I had done in the military was all that special; all of my peers in the Army had effectively the same experiences and I did not feel I was unique.  Coming to Fletcher, I was amazed by how interested other students were in my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I was even more amazed to hear other students’ stories of their pre-Fletcher lives in various places and jobs around the world.  I have been blown away by the breadth of conversations and class discussions that will naturally flow when you combine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in South Sudan, lawyers who worked for the UN, and medical doctors who worked in IDP camps.

Fletcher has a student veterans group, Fletcher Veterans.  The group meets regularly for both social events and also community service projects.  In recent years the group has gotten together for activities ranging from an annual trip to a polo match outside of Boston, to volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, to hosting student panels on the state of veterans in America.  This year, in conjunction with other groups at school, the group is looking to expand its presence at Fletcher into the realm of leadership development.  And Fletcher Vets also gets together from time to time for simple social gatherings to tell old war and sea stories over a few drinks.

For veterans or active duty members considering Fletcher, I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to focus on security studies; I would say the majority of veterans at Fletcher focus on other areas, including a very high concentration of MIB candidates.  The openness and diversity of Fletcher’s curriculum make it easy to combine your experience with an amazing breath of academic subjects on a variety of topics.  For those who are interested in security studies, the International Security Studies Program, chaired by Professor Shultz, is a great program and consistently brings in world-class speakers from around the world, as I described in a post last year.  The ISSP fellows — senior military officers attending Fletcher on a one-year fellowship, in lieu of the Army War College or their services’ respective professional military education — add a great deal to both the classroom and student body.  As senior field grade officers who have led operational units, they bring a wealth of knowledge to Fletcher and also serve as exceptional mentors for active duty officers and veterans alike.

Veterans contribute a great deal to the Fletcher community.  If you are a veteran interested in Fletcher and have questions regarding VA benefits, academics, student life, or pretty much anything, please contact me (Liam Walsh) or the co-leaders of Fletcher Veterans, Pat Devane and Joel Tolbirt.

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This week has really been packed with special events, and today and tomorrow there are two of the week’s highlights.

Today:  Many students with an interest in private sector or finance careers are currently in New York on a career trip sponsored by the International Business Club.  Sites to be visited include the Federal Reserve of New York, Global Impact Investing Network, Control Risks, Eurasia Group, Falconhead Capital, Google, Oliver Wyman, Citi, Blackstone Group, Major League Soccer, Morgan Stanley,  Monitor Deloitte, Scholastic, and others!  Some, but not all, of the meetings will be hosted by Fletcher grads.

Later today and tomorrow:  In another curricular area, Fletcher will be running Simulex, the annual international security exercise that this year will simulate a crisis in the Baltic region.  The ISSP organizers tell us:

In the past, there have been as many as 200 students and visitors in attendance.  Several of the Military War Colleges, The National Defense University, Military Service Academies and universities from around the country are represented.  Students are assigned to country teams that make policy decisions for their respective states and experience how these decisions influence future events.

These are those just a few of those opportunities Diane mentioned in her post earlier this week.

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The Spring 2014 issue of the Fletcher Security Review can now be found online.  This is the first full issue for the publication, which was launched only last fall and has been building content ever since.  Here’s the introduction that the editor, Haider Mullick, a Fletcher PhD candidate, shared with the community:

FSWWe are delighted to introduce our Spring 2014 issue!

Managed and edited by students at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Fletcher Security Review builds on the School’s strong traditions of combining scholarship with practice, fostering close interdisciplinary collaboration, and acting as a vehicle for groundbreaking discussion of international security.  We believe that by leveraging these strengths – seeking input from established and up-and-coming scholars, practitioners, and analysts from around the world on topics deserving greater attention – we can promote genuinely unique ways of looking at the future of security.

Each issue of FSR is centered around a broad theme.  In this issue, we chose to revisit the rich topic of “Proxy War.”  This volume explores the wide variety of ways in which international relations scholars and practitioners define, and understand the role of, proxies.  Our contributors consider “traditional” great power conflicts as well as examine the murky and misunderstood impact of sub-national actors such as Mexico’s cartels, Africa’s failing state watchmen and/or predators, and transnational jihadist groups.  They encourage us to learn from the proxy conflicts of the past, and they explore the future in their examination of the laws of war and their relevance to cyber clashes.

Also looking to the future of security are two renowned leaders in the field of security praxis.  David H. Petraeus discusses the importance of North American cooperation to minimize the impact of global insecurity, and Frances Townsend highlights, in her eyes, the reasons for America’s decline.

To learn more about Fletcher Security Review, you can contact the editors, or see what they and others are saying via FSR’s Twitter feed.

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Just before classes ended, Liam and I discussed possible topics for his next blog post.  He mentioned how much he has enjoyed the talks he has attended throughout the semester.  Since I never manage to join these special events during the busy fall, this seemed like the perfect subject for him.  Here are Liam’s observations.

As my first semester came to a close and I feverishly studied for finals and finish term papers, I took some time to think about my Fletcher experience to date and about the aspects that stood out for me.  What has really impressed me is the access I’ve been privileged to have to senior-level leaders from throughout the world and the remarkably candid remarks they’ve made in guest lectures at Fletcher.

Early in the year, I was privileged to sit in ASEAN auditorium and listen to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia give a remarkable talk about cyber security and his country’s experience when faced with a massive cyber attack in 2007.  President Ilves was incredibly engaging and straightforward, discussing what he sees as future security challenges for Europe, and I couldn’t help but be amazed that I was listening to a standing head of state give his incredibly honest opinions.  You can get a sense of his perspective from his interview with Dean Stavridis.

As someone focusing on security at Fletcher, another incredible opportunity has been the International Security Studies Program’s luncheon series.  I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, discuss the challenges facing the Army over the next several decades and how he sees the Army adapting to that uncertain future.  I heard Dr. David Chu, President of the Institute for Defense Analyses and former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, discuss his ideas for a responsible drawdown within the Department of Defense, based on history.  I’ve listened to General John Kelly, Commander of Southern Command, discuss the sphere and scope of his organization’s responsibility in Central and South America.  And I’ve been able to hear Major General Bennet Sacolick, Director of Force Management and Development for the Special Operations Command, discuss the Global Special Operations Forces Network and the role Special Operations units can play in the ambiguous security environment we face.  I might add that all of these events include an excellent free lunch (a must for busy graduate students) and truly invigorating discussions.

In addition to Fletcher events, I’ve attended some outstanding guest lectures within the greater Tufts community.  From former Congressman Robert Wexler discussing his vision for a two-state solution in the Middle East, to Colonel Steve Banach explaining the use of design methodology to manage complexity and change, to Colonel Bill Ostlund calling in on videoteleconference from Afghanistan to discuss his brigade’s actions in Zabul Province, I’ve been exposed to an amazing breadth and depth of speakers.

Last, due to the reputation and variety of the amazing faculty here at Fletcher, my classes have included some incredible guest lectures.  In one of the last weeks of the semester, we had a marvelous impromptu Skype session in my International Organizations class with Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu, permanent representative of Romania to the UN.  And I would be remiss if I left out the multiple opportunities that Dean Stavridis provides Fletcher students to hear him speak on a wide range of subjects, ranging from security threats to the strategic plan for the future of Fletcher and Tufts.

Simply put, it’s been an incredible experience to date, both in and out of the classroom, and I consider myself truly fortunate to have had this exposure to policy makers in all walks of life.

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Tomorrow and Saturday, many students will be participating in the International Security Studies Program’s Simulex event.  Not only students, in fact, but also experts from U.S. War Colleges, National Defense University, Military Service Academies, and several other local universities.  The flyer announcing Simulex invites students to, “Develop and put your negotiation and crisis management skills to practice and save the (simulated) world!  Test your wits against your fellow students, senior political-military officials, and U.S. Government war gaming experts.”

What to know what the simulation will involve?  You can check out the program details or read the background scenario.

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