International faculty add depth of experience to Regional Studies

By Elena Patton, Public Affairs Office    20 April 2021

Col. Alejandro Amigo, a Chilean Army officer who joined the war college faculty in January 2021, co-teaches the course on the Americas.

Three international officers on faculty add depth to the Regional Studies Program, a core course of the US Army War College. Students examine a region of choice—and some enjoy the additional benefit of first-hand experiences and knowledge thanks to international faculty.

Col. Alejandro Amigo, a Chilean Army officer who joined the war college faculty in January 2021, co-teaches the course on the Americas. He is one of three international faculty whose military and academic expertise enrich the students’ experience.

“My military experience allows me to understand U.S. military officers, the environment, their ideas, and how they act,” said Amigo. “My academic experience has shown me how one should conduct a class in this level of studies.”

Like the students he instructs, Amigo has more than 25 years of experience in his military. His military career began in 1990 when he entered Chile’s military academy. Amigo became an army officer in 1993, serving in the Signals Corps. He served as the Future Operations Officer, Joint Argentinian Task Force for the United Nations Forces in Cyprus, 2003. He was the Chief of the Strategic Planning Group in the Chilean Army H.Q., 2015-2017.

He graduated from Chile’s war college and earned a master’s degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University in 2014.

In class, Amigo worked to challenge some of the biases, misconceptions, and ideas students had about the Americas by sharing his own experiences, he said.

By challenging the students, Amigo hoped to foster a sense of strategic empathy among the students and their interactions with those from different regions. “It is being put in the other’s place, trying to think of yourself as the other,” said Amigo.

“... [L]ook at your neighbor and try to understand them in a better way,” said Amigo, explaining why it is important to learn not only about U.S. national security interests but other those of other countries. Students learn to understand how the U.S and other countries can be better partners.

One needs to know the environment in order to execute the strategic mission, said Col. Barbara Fick, director of Americas Studies. The course teaches students how to scan their environment, a crucial aspect to understanding how partner nations can best work together.

“[S]tudents gain a deeper appreciation of strategic issues in a given region of the world,” said Danielle Spinard, a student who took the Americas course. “The program offers a more nuanced perspective of the history, motivations, and socio-economic realities of different countries.”

“This information is invaluable to better understand the operational environment … making strategic decisions involving global alliances,” said Spinard.

International faculty draw on their military and academic experiences, teaching students about their region’s culture, economics, military structure, and relationships with surrounding regions. At the same time, this is a tremendous opportunity to learn from interactions with students and fellow faculty members, said Amigo.

“The U.S. military is always on the groundbreaking in the military doctrine and technology. If you want to learn and see how the future war fighting will be, always look to the U.S. Army,” said Amigo. In turn, the international faculty can apply that knowledge to the military forces in their home country, he added.

War college students consider their professional and personal interests in selecting a region for an in-depth study: East Asia, South Asia, Europe, Eurasia, Africa, Middle East, and the Americas.

Amigo is one of three international officers on USAWC faculty this year, along with Col. Julio Toledo from Brazil and Col. Felipe Quero from Spain.