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IR/PS Faculty Members Orient Marines Readying for Asian Deployment

By Eeva Moore | November 20, 2006

Six scholars from the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), each an authority on the politics and culture of different countries in East and Southeast Asia, provided briefings at Camp Pendleton last week to a group of Marine officers and senior enlisted personnel preparing to depart for duty in the area.

“The Marines want to make sure their people have a good sense of the geopolitics of the region,” said Darla Wilson, director of the Global Leadership Institute, the IR/PS unit that developed the program with the Marine Corps.

IR/PS Professor Stephan Haggard, center, was one of six UCSD scholars providing Asian geopolitical and cultural background for Camp Pendleton Marines preparing to deploy in the region.

Professor Edmund Malesky kicked off the series with an overview of Southeast Asia. He was followed by professors Stephan Haggard, Miles Kahler, Barbara Walter, Susan Shirk, and Ellis Krauss. Topics covered a range of issues including terrorism, regional multilateralism and cooperation, and a focus on the Koreas, China, and Japan. The Marines, most of whom had completed at least one tour of duty in Iraq, said they benefited from the briefings, and expressed an interest in keeping in contact even while on assignment in Asia.

“They have an interest to continue deepening  their understanding of the environment where they will be working and we look forward to staying in touch.” said Stephan Haggard, a political scientist who specializes in Korea.

In comparing the Asian assignment with duty in the Middle East, Capt. Adam Potter, who initiated the cooperation with IR/PS said, “The deployment to Asia holds a much different, wider range of potential missions and the goal of the Marine Corps was to find instruction providing a solid education on the political context of the Pacific-Asia region.” There the units will serve as first responders for humanitarian crises, natural disasters or unexpected conflicts.

In addition to sharing  knowledge of the geopolitics of the region, the scholars provided an in-depth orientation to cultural issues, which was also of obvious interest to the Marines. “We won’t have the time to learn the languages of the region, but at least if we sit down over a meal with locals, we can show that we know and understand something of their politics and culture,” said Lt. Col. Frank Donovan, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines [Regiment], 1st Marine Division, the unit selected for the initial UCSD training.

The Marines are planning to continue contracting with IR/PS, perhaps twice yearly, prior to troop deployments.  “Our faculty has enjoyed this first program and they have all expressed willingness to help out in the future,” said program director Wilson.

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