JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Thirty-six international military officers attending the U.S. Army War College met with senior I Corps leadership and toured the installation Feb. 26 to 27 to gain a better understanding of both the strategic vision and operational elements of the U.S. military.
The International Fellows were brought up to speed on current U.S. Military trends and actions by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, deputy commanding general, who briefed the International Fellows on the I Corps’ role in the Pacific Rim rebalance, and by the brigade commanders from 2nd and 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who updated them on current operations in Afghanistan.
The Fellows were also treated to rides in Stryker vehicles by 4th Brigade, 2nd ID. They also had the opportunity to tour a brand new C-17 Globemaster III aircraft with airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing. The stop at JBLM represents the best and often, only opportunity for the students to see first-hand what the U.S. Military is all about and to interact with junior service members.
“In these times of diminishing resources we are going to depend more and more on our international partnerships. The officers at the Army War College represent the future of international military leadership,” explained U.S. Army Col. John Burbank, director of the U.S. Army War College Fellowship Program. The students are all either general officers or poised to make the rank of general within their own nations. Approximately ten percent of the students go on to become the chief of their army or defense program.
Many of the students come to the course with preconceived notions of the United States derived from popular media sources, said Burbank. Bringing them here and allowing them to interact with service members helps to correct misunderstandings and creates a positive impression they can take back to their nations.
“This is a hugely formative experience. Not only do we want them to be strategic thinkers and future military leaders, but we also want them to be experts on America,” said Burbank.
Interacting with the service members during the Stryker ride and C-17 tour proved to be the highlight of the visit for many of the Fellows, including Australian Army Col. Shane Gabriel, who joked he was probably improperly dressed for a ride in the back of a Stryker, and it was far more fun to tour a C-17 on the ground. He enjoyed getting the soldiers’ perspectives and seeing their pride in discussing their personal duties and their assigned equipment.
“It’s always a great experience to come out and see wider parts of the U.S. military,” said Gabriel, who previously visited JBLM for training more than a decade ago. “Back at Carlisle Barracks, we have talked about all sorts of strategic and high-level issues, but it’s important to remember those discussions and actions are linked to real people -- the people who are here every day at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”
Gabriel acknowledged that while many of the nations had worked with U.S. Forces during previous engagements or exercises, visiting the installation helped complete the broader picture for them.