MIT students visit major commands at Fort Bragg

10th Press Camp Headquarters
Story by Sgt. Ferdinand Detres

Date: 03.27.2013
Posted: 03.27.2013 17:21
News ID: 104187
MIT Ph.D. candidates visit Fort Bragg

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Doctorate students attending the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a two-day visit to Fort Bragg, N.C., March 25-26, visiting all three major commands on post.

During their visit to the U.S. Army Forces Command, 18th Airborne Corps, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, students were briefed by subject matter experts on the Army’s current challenges and roles in providing global combatant commanders with request for forces.

Among the students were faculty members Dr. Barry R. Posen, director of the MIT Security Studies Program, Dr. Cindy Williams, principal research scientist of the MIT SSP, and four military fellows: Col. Kirk Dorr, Army War College, SSP, Col. David Pendall, Army War College, SSP, Col. John Christopher, Marine Corps, and Lt. Col. Stephen Russell, U.S. Air Force.

The purpose of the visit was to provide MIT Security Studies Program Ph.D. candidates with an appreciation of joint military organizations and their contribution to national security. Once the students graduate from the SSP, many go on to work in national security policy forums, think tanks, the Office of Secretary of Defense and other national security related agencies.

The students are also provided the opportunity to have the expertise of Military Fellows whom accompany them through a 10-month cycle at MIT.

“We are exposed to some of the greatest minds in the country,” said Dorr. “Some of the students and faculty in the Ph.D. program have served in high level positions shaping policy. As military fellows we are able to provide the students tangible on the ground experience to theory. Providing our experience on how defense policy gets implemented to the Soldier is powerful.”

The 18th Airborne Corps took students on a tour of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. A vehicle designed to help protect Soldiers during improvised explosives device attacks and ambushes.

“I was working on a project involving the MRAP but had never seen one in person,” said Lena Andrews, a Ph.D. student in international relations and security studies. “Being able to see and get in an MRAP was a great experience!”

The Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer also gave the students hands on experience of what it feels like in a combat environment. Some of the students drove the virtual HUMVEEs while their counterparts experienced shooting a virtual 50-caliber machine gun.

“For our students the opportunity was phenomenal,” said Williams. “Fifty percent of our students never set foot on a military base. They got the opportunity to use equipment they might go an entire academic career without touching and see what soldiers do without the danger.”