Marines Get Geopolitical Crash Course At UC San Diego Before Deployment
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
SAN DIEGO About 100 enlisted and commissioned officers from Camp Pendleton’s 1st Battalion, 4th Marines spent one of the last days before their next deployment learning about the current political climate in places like Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Somalia at UC San Diego Monday.
Aired 8/13/13 on KPBS News.
UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies hosted officers from Camp Pendleton's 1st Battalion, 4th Marines Monday
It was easy to pick the neatly dressed officers, with their close-cropped hair out from the everyday students at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. Most college classes are full of students whispering to each other and checking email and Facebook while also taking notes on a lecture.
They sat silently through sessions on issues like the rise of Salafist Islamic movements in countries touched by the Arab Spring, asking questions only when the lecturer paused to prompt them.
The battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Bronzi said the day of lectures from academics from schools like Harvard and the Naval Postgraduate School was a rare opportunity to get deeper insight into the important regions they’ll be working in.
“So that if and when we’re involved in those regions, we can have a little bit of a broader perspective on how some of the issues have developed and then what part we can take in being part of the solution,” he said
The officers don't know exactly where their mission will take them, but Bronzi said the lectures also gave battalion leaders the resources to keep up to date on the countries they’ll be working in.
More than 500 officers have attended the briefings hosted by UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific studies since 2006. Dean Peter Cowhey said the sessions with the Marines also benefit his faculty.
“Because first they’re a very impressive group of people. But secondly, the questions they ask are often quite telling in order to think out some of the issues that perhaps doing armchair research wouldn’t reveal,” he said
The regions covered in the briefings depend on where deployments are headed. Monday’s session was the first hosted by the school that focused on North Africa and the Middle East.