Article by Kate Oliver; Photos by MC1 Leonardo Carrillo
Seven professors from the School of International Graduate Studies (SIGS) received the Defense Civilian Medal for the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The award is given to civilian Department of Defense employees who have worked in a region impacted by GWOT operations.
Research professor Thomas Johnson and lecturer Kenneth Dombroski, from the National Security Affairs (NSA) department worked in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Associate professor Diana Angelis, assistant professor Jomana Amara, senior lecturers Stephen Hurst and Allan Polley, and Lecturer Luis Morales, all of the Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI), spent time in a number of different countries, including Iraq, Jordan, Tajikistan, Egypt and Sierra Leone.
Professors Johnson, Dombrowski and Amara all spent time in GWOT countries conducting academic research that has been shared with the Department of Defense through various reports and with the academic community through journal articles and conferences.
“Being in the field allows us great liberty in research – we can collect data that would not be available otherwise and we can ask the research questions that would have been impossible to answer if we are sitting in the office,” said Amara, who has worked extensively in Jordan. “As a researcher, being closer to the data allows for better questions to be asked and I hope it makes for a richer product.”
“My field research in Afghanistan especially at the Afghan village level allows me to pulse the rural hinterland population that are absolutely critical to understanding the Afghan rural-based insurgency,” said Johnson, a renowned researcher on Afghanistan.
Not all faculty conduct research while abroad; many participate in educational programs with partner nations. This is particularly true of DRMI faculty, who focus on teaching professional education programs in analytical decision making and research management.
“One of the keys to success of DRMI’s resources management workshops in Iraq was building strong and lasting relationships with various Iraqi security ministries and in particular the Ministry of Interior,” said Morales. “Since these workshops were funded by the U.S., conducting them in Iraq gave the U.S. more ‘bang for the buck’ by significantly increasing the number of Iraqi personnel that could attend the workshops, thus reducing the unit cost of teaching best practices on resources management to Iraqi participants.”
Polley concurred with Morales: “It was not critical that I conduct classes in the various countries I have visited. It was mostly a practical matter. It is cheaper to send one or two faculty to a distant site than to bring ten to twenty participants to Monterey, and we can make use of local interpreters to communicate with people.”
The leadership at SIGS is proud of all of its faculty members’ commitment to service.
“Academics are often viewed as removed from the real world, preoccupied with esoteric research. This couldn’t be farther from the truth at SIGS,” said Jim Wirtz, Dean of SIGS. “Our faculty analyze current and looming threats and identify solutions that promote global security. I am proud of the real-world research and instruction that SIGS faculty carry out on a daily basis.”