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    Army Civil Affairs Officer Lectures at Yale Law School on Cultural Preservation in Ukraine

    Army Civil Affairs Officer Lectures Yale Law Students on Cultural Preservation in Ukraine

    Photo By Lt. Col. Brett Walker | On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, Capt. Blake Ruehrwein of the U.S. Army’s 353rd Civil...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Brett Walker 

    353d Civil Affairs Command

    New Haven, CT – When Yale Law School needed an expert to discuss cultural heritage preservation amidst the combat in Ukraine, it contacted Capt. Blake Ruehrwein of the U.S. Army’s 353rd Civil Affairs Command. On Tuesday, March 26, 2024, Ruehrwein lectured at Yale Law on the unique considerations for identifying, recording, protecting and preserving artifacts of culture significance in a war zone.

    Ruehrwein is an Army Civil Affairs officer. The Civil Affairs mission involves using expertise in governance and other specialty disciplines to enhance global stability and counter threats to U.S. interests. Individuals like Ruehrwein, who have considerable education and experience in a unique field of study, are ideal for such service.

    Attorney Margaret Donovan, a visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School, invited Ruehrwein to present to a class that is studying the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Ruehrwein presented some prepared material and lead a two-hour structured conversation on the topic of cultural heritage preservation in Ukraine. Approximately a dozen students participated.

    “Speaking to graduate students at one of our country’s leading law schools is a great honor,” said Ruehrwein. “Monuments Men who served in WWII included a distinguished group from Yale University. It's a humbling experience to follow in their footsteps, yet incredibly inspiring, and it's exciting to show the students and faculty what this work entails.”

    Student questions suggested they were particularly interested in the challenges of enforcing international treaties and balancing representation in mixed cultures. Earlier in the semester, the class heard from a number of speakers who described the war in Ukraine as a colonial war and why targeting the Ukrainian identity has been a central component of Russia’s war strategy.

    “We were grateful Captain Ruehrwein was able to join us,” said Donovan, who is a veteran herself. “His work is indispensable to those on the ground in Ukraine. Although it can often be an afterthought of war, cultural preservation in this conflict is inextricably linked with Ukraine’s response to Russian aggression.”

    Ruehrwein direct commissioned into the Army as a captain two years ago in 2022. Direct commissions, especially in the advanced rank of captain, are a perk somewhat unique to the Civil Affairs 38G program. The 38G program consists of Army officers with extensive expertise in 18 specialty fields ranging from economics to judicial systems. These officers provide analysis, insights and guidance to military and civilian leaders all over the world in support of U.S. interests and worldwide security. A recent article on 38G agricultural experts appears here:

    Nearly all 38G soldiers serve in a part-time capacity. In his fulltime civilian career, Ruehrwein is the Director of Education and Public Outreach at the Naval War College Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. He has been working there since 2019. Prior to that, he taught art history at his undergraduate alma mater – Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

    Civil Affairs soldiers are experts in complex socio-political issues and serve as advisors to U.S. leaders as well as foreign nations. They are required to demonstrate advanced education and experiential credentials. After graduating from Bridgewater State University in 2007, Ruehrwein earned a Master’s Degree from City College of New York in 2012.

    Ruehrwein drew upon those qualifications as well as his military training when presenting at Yale Law School on Tuesday. Among other subjects, Ruehrwein addressed the 1954 Hague Convention, the history of cultural property protection in the Army, the investigation of war crimes against cultural heritage, and cultural property protection capabilities in the militaries of allied nations.

    “I joined the Army Reserve because it was an opportunity that seemed tailor-made for me,” said Ruehrwein. “It is a challenging role, but the learning and growth I've gained have been rewarding.”

    Last year, Ruehrwein and his Civil Affairs team completed in-depth training at the New York Metropolitan Art Museum ( Later this year Ruehrwein and his Civil Affairs team will be traveling to England and Italy to perform joint training with foreign militaries.

    The 353rd CACOM is principally comprised of senior soldiers and officers with particular expertise in a broad range of skills in civil-military matters used for furthering global stability. For more information, visit

    Story by Army Lt. Col. Brett Walker, Public Affairs Officer, 353d CACOM


    Date Taken: 03.27.2024
    Date Posted: 03.27.2024 23:39
    Story ID: 467208

    Web Views: 273
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