On Thursday, April 6th, Dr. Buckley’s Institute of Policy and Politics inquiry course, along with a number of other Middle and Upper School classes, had the chance to Skype a friend and former classmate of Mr. George. Introduced to us as “Lt. Commander Dave” (for personal and safety reasons), he was kind enough to spend the long block answering an array of student questions ranging from his opinion on the current military operations in the Middle East to logistical questions such as “how did you cast your ballot while across seas in the recent election?” and “what did it take to become a Navy Seal?” Lt. Commander Dave graduated from Brown with Mr. George and retired from commission around 6 years ago, but remains as a reserve officer, which is why he is currently stationed in Baghdad. When asked about his current mission in Baghdad, the Lt. Commander took the time to explain the process of training local forces by providing basic military training and advising. Commander Dave also explained the importance of ensuring that the Iraqi military had the capabilities to fight ISIS without the help of the US or the UN coalition that was currently stationed in the region. When asked about the local opinion of the US he mentioned how although most locals understand that the US is there to help and are mostly grateful for their work, some politicians have grown increasingly critical of the United States’ presence in their country.
Towards the end of the talk the Lt. Commander offered some of his own opinions on the recent presidential election explaining that he believed Russia to be the number one threat to the US and its democracy based on the cyber attacks that occurred during the race. Additionally, he offered insight into how the US military changes under new presidential administrations, explaining that ultimately their mission does not deviate very much from president to president as it usually takes a year or two for a new commander-in-chief to cement his own foreign policy. Ultimately, the Lt. Commander offered a new and unique perspective on current events in the Middle East. Thanks to Mr. George for organizing this amazing opportunity for students to talk to an active military officer on the ground experiencing these events firsthand.