Summer 2019: International Fellows prepare for year of study, relationship-building

By Robert Martin, USAWC Public Affairs Office    16 July 2019

Army War College Commandant Maj. Gen. John Kem speaks with the 79 International Fellows who will form an important core of the 380-person Class of 2019, alongside U.S military officers and civilian leaders and managers of U.S. federal agencies.

The USAWC journey is underway for 79 officers of allied and partner nations including first-time attendance from the countries of Liberia, Angola and of Azerbaijan. These International Fellows will first complete a six-week orientation, and then join their U.S. counterparts in the U.S. Army War College Resident Program Class of 2020, beginning Aug 1.

39 International officers completed the English language-focused Academic Preparatory Course

A milestone for 39 of those international officers took place June 21 as they completed the nine-week Academic Preparatory Course to hone their language skills for graduate-level reading, research, academic writing, and seminar discussions.

“The Academic Prep Course instructs students in the skills necessary to fully participate and accomplish the academic standards of the USAWC Resident Course,” said Jeremy Beussink, IF Writing and Research Skills Instructor. “The foundations of these skills are reading, writing, and research.”

“My class was filled with stellar students,” said Tom Marchi, one of four English teachers in APC. “They were very serious about doing well knowing that it will help them as they proceed toward their master’s level courses.

“One unique approach I used was to guide the International Fellows in leading many of the class discussions, challenging each other in complex thinking skills. The class then became more dynamic and cohesive as they learned from each other's unique perspective,” said Marchi.

All classroom instruction, reading, discussion and lecture is in English, to hone understanding, experience, and confidence in English-based national security studies.

“Some challenges I faced during the APC had to do with language,” said Lt. Col. Roland T. Murphy of the Liberian Army. “International Fellows come from different backgrounds and have different accents, which affects the way sentences are constructed and spoken. Understanding some of my course mates and having them understand me sometimes was a bit a challenge, but as the course progressed we overcame these challenges gradually.

“Sitting in class with representatives of almost every continent of the world was rewarding and exciting -- Sharing experiences on issues and how they might impact us as it relates to our respective countries,” said Murphy.

All 79 International officers will participate in the six-week orientation to the United States

The six-week orientation course for the international students and their families includes briefings and staff rides on American culture and society, history and government, and values.

All International Fellows live in the civilian communities around Carlisle Barracks; many will send children to Carlisle Area schools. The course’s introduction to American society includes with experiences ranging from a Harrisburg Senators baseball game to the birth-of-the-nation educational experience in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center and a sail on the Spirit of Philadelphia.Introduction to Americana is not complete with a day at HersheyPark.Funding for cultural experiences like HersheyPark and the Senators game has been donated through the Army War College Foundation.

Their understanding of American politics and government begins locally, with an introduction to local government by Carlisle Deputy Mayor Sean Shultz – followed by an introduction to the justice system in action at the Cumberland County Courthouse.

The Washington, D.C. staff ride includes office calls and briefings in the Pentagon and with the Army Congressional liaison office.Their families, meanwhile, visit the Washington Zoo and Library of Congress. Together, the officers and families take part in a memorable ceremony when Bangladeshi Brig. Gen. Ferdous Salim, of Bangladesh, lays a wreath at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. Salim was elected to represent the International Fellows as USAWC Class Vice President.

Orientation and sponsorship prepares International Fellows for full integration into war college studies

In between group experiences, these international officers from vastly different backgrounds across the globe are assisted by volunteer sponsors from the neighboring community and from the war college. The sponsors guide them through the driver’s license process, car purchases, U.S. banking practices, and generally guide the Fellows in mastering the everyday distinctions of American life so they can focus on studies as of August 1.

The first day of studies for the full Class of 2020 begins with seminar introductions and acculturation. The 79 foreign officers will be seated across the 25 student seminars, creating in each a forum for rich exchange of experiences and insights when the US military, US federal civilians, and International Fellows address case studies, exercises, and seminar discussion topics.

Their presence in the seminar brings greater diversity of viewpoints to the strategic thinking process and helps forge stronger ties of cooperation among future coalition partners.

The Chief of Staff of the Army invited the International Fellows to attend the Army War College in a State Department program executed by the Defense Department.

The 79 USAWC International Fellows in the Class of 2020 represent these 75 countries:Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan , Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Rep (2), Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia (Army, Air Force, National Guard), Senegal, Slovak Republic, South Africa (2), Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.