After having completed two full weeks at the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the U.S. Army War College, I have begun to realize that this is not a typical 40-hour week. It is unlike any of the other full time jobs I have held in the past. Upon arriving on the first day and going through the orientation process, I immediately saw that PKSOI and the rest of the College was a very motivated and hard working group, despite the relaxed work environment that they maintain.
Prior to arriving, each of the interns was assigned a mentor to work under for the summer. However at PKSOI, the word “intern” does not carry the usual connotations that the word carries elsewhere. At PKSOI the interns are here to aid their mentors as research assistants, rather than brew coffee, make copies, run errands, etc. Therefore, the 24 interns at PKSOI this summer will be working on projects concerning very recent current events around the world.
My mentor’s name is Dwight Raymond and works for PKSOI as the military’s expert on mass atrocity and genocide prevention and/or response. After a long and illustrious career in the military (see http://pksoi.army.mil/staff/staff.cfm? positionID=38 for his biography), Mr. Raymond retired and entered civilian life where he has spent his time publishing three handbooks: Mass Atrocity Prevention Response Options (MAPRO), Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO) and the Protection of Civilians. Mr. Raymond makes regular trips to Washington D.C. and the United Nations in New York City to consult the U.S. military and international forces about how to respond to mass atrocity situations. Most recently, Mr. Raymond has traveled to South Sudan to observe an intervention training exercise and consult the intervention forces on the best way to protect civilians in the context of the South Sudan atrocity.
During these exercises there are numerous forces from different countries and backgrounds participating, that all have different levels of knowledge about the situation. According to Mr. Raymond, the South Sudan exercise showed how differing levels of knowledge about the situation facilitated inefficiency and miscommunication when conducting the exercise. To make sure that all parties involved have the same level of understanding regarding the situation, Mr. Raymond has tasked me with writing a situation assessment about the next international intervention in Mali. The assessment will be between 20 and 30 pages and include information about Mali such as operational environments (geographic, political, military/security, social, informational, infrastructure), actors involved (military forces, adversaries, vulnerable civilians), and the general background/profile of the country. Details about each of these subsections will follow in the next few blogs.