Tag Archives: Department of Defense

Taylor Hart-McGonigle, African Affairs at DOD

During the course of the fall semester, I worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense- Policy (OSD (P)) in the African Affairs

office. African Affairs office informs the Department of Defense’s (DoD) policy and positions for the countries included in the Africa Combatant Command’s (AFRICOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR). The office is led by an appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and works with the interagency, the Joint Staff, and international partners, among others in executing DoD policy priorities in Africa. The office draws upon the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy to inform its policy recommendations and priorities and applies these documents to the African context when executing policy and programs.

In my position as a policy intern, I worked with the regional directors, action officers, and leadership to fulfill the office’s mission set. While I assisted in each African region where needed, my primary focus was on the Magreb, Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and the Horn of Africa because I have prior experience with northern Africa. On a weekly basis, I assisted in drafting policy briefs that communicate the office’s activities for leadership with a focus on our activities related to the National Defense Strategy. Additionally, I worked on a few meetings where I was responsible for contributing to my principal’s preparation and read materials and working level engagements prior to the meetings.

The DoD was completely foreign to me at the start of my internship, and I am now better aware of its mission and function. In particular, I learned how DoD collaborates and connects across the combatant commands, Joint Staff, Security Cooperation, Policy, and the interagency. While I learned about Africa, I also learned how to be adaptable and get the information you need when you are not an expert. Overall, I really wanted to better understand how Policy contributed to the national security enterprise, and I feel that my experience with OSD (P) has given me invaluable insight into how national security policy is created and executed.

Taylor Hart-McGonigle in front of a Qiam-1 SRBM missile at the Iranian Material Display in Washington, DC.

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Jacob Wisenbaker, National Security Innovations at MD5

Tucked away amid the hustle and bustle of Crystal City, Virginia is a small team of men and women who are working to completely transform the Department of Defense. Created in October of 2016, MD5 is a program office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense tasked with creating new communities of innovators to solve national security problems. We do this by partnering with those individuals who are typically not associated with the DoD. These include students, entrepreneurs, university professors, startup companies, venture capital communities, city governments, and private accelerators/incubators. We collaborate with our above partners to bring solutions to the national security problems of our customer, the DoD.MD5 is organized into three distinct yet integrated portfolios: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. The Education portfolio is tasked with building a DoD workforce that has strong innovation skills and an improved problem framing capacity. The Collaboration portfolio helps to develop the novel solutions that are put forth by our partners in addition to creating new communities of innovators. Lastly, the Acceleration portfolio works to improve the viability of dual-use ventures and solutions for defense market entry.

As an Innovation Fellow with MD5 I have had the opportunity to work at the headquarters located in Crystal City. My tasks over the summer have ranged from writing policy recommendations for how the program conducts itself to meeting with various DoD entities to better understand the problems they face. I have been tasked with constantly seeking more innovative and streamlined ways in which MD5 can complete its mission. By enabling better communication processes, developing publications, consolidating and distributing workflows, and optimizing MD5’s vast troves of data, I am helping MD5 team members to better serve our customer.

Before coming to work for MD5 I had little understanding as to what innovation truly meant. Many times the word is used as a buzzword that few people efficiently know how to employ. MD5 actualizes this abstract concept by teaching hard skills relating to Human Centered Design (HCD), Lean Launch Pad (LLP), Mission Model Canvas (MMC), and Minimum Viable Product (MVP). With these skills the DoD will undoubtedly hold its competitive edge in the 21st century.

Jacob Wisenbaker is a recent graduate of the MAIR program.

Jacob Wisenbaker

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

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Chris Tonsmeire, Peace Operations Initiative at DOD

The U.S. Department of Defense’s USINDOPACOM headquarters is located on Camp HM Smith, Oahu, Hawaii.  It was recently renamed from USPACOM to reflect the importance of India in USINDOPACOM’s Area of Responsibility.  USINDOPACOM is unique among the Global Combatant Commands (GCC) because it is the only GCC with its subordinate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Commands co-located in the same state and island.  Additionally, the island of Oahu is home to Joint Interagency Task Force – West (JIATF-W), the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Asia-Pacific Security Studies (APCSS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research facility.  An internship with USINDOPACOM offers an amazing opportunity to learn about all of these organizations.

Seal of USINDOPACOM

My position was as a Visiting Fellow in the J372 office.  The J372 is a sub-category of the J3 Operations directorate.  The J372 office consists of Multinational Programs and Theater Security Cooperation Exercises.   Multinational Programs, where I interned, consists of two programs: the Multinational Planning Augmentation Team (MPAT) and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI).  While my internship was officially with GPOI, I was also able to work extensively with the MPAT.  GPOI was created in 2004 as the U.S. contribution to the broader G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations because of the strategic importance of international peace operations to US national security.  Increasing the capability of partner nations to conduct international peace operations was seen as a cost-effective way of increasing world stability and sharing the burden of conducting peace operations. To meet this objective, GPOI funds training, equipment, and facilities building capabilities worldwide for USINDOPACOM’s twelve regional partners. GPOI is unique in that it is a US State Department program that is executed by the US Department of Defense to build capacity of partners to train and sustain peacekeepers who deploy to United Nations missions around the world.

Like the GPOI team, the MPAT works to improve the capabilities of multinational partner forces.  Unlike the GPOI team the MPAT is regionally focused and was an initiative developed by the regional Chiefs of Defense in 2000 with the goal to facilitate the rapid and effective establishment and/or augmentation of a multinational force headquarters (MNF HQ) and/or other multinational military and civil-military coordination mechanisms.  In order to improve the ability of regional multinational response to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and any other operation in USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility that fall short of war, they have developed the Multinational Forces Standing Operating Procedures (MNF SOP) and conduct the TEMPEST EXPRESS exercise.  The MNF SOP is a living document that collects best practices, compiles and defines new terminology, and standardizes methods for all of these operations.  Yearly MNF SOP conferences are conducted to update the document as well as create relationships between military planners and civilian organization leaders active in the region.  These relationships are seen as added benefits that decrease response time when different organizations arrive to deal with a real-world crisis.  The TEMPEST EXPRESS and other theater security cooperation exercises are where the planners try to “break” the MNF SOP.  It is a scenario-based exercise that allows the planners to work together using the MNF SOP to deal with a simulated crisis.  Flaws exposed by the TE exercise and from real world use are then compiled into the MNF SOP at the next conference.

Getting to attend the MNF SOP 20 conference in Wellington, New Zealand was undoubtedly the highlight of my internship.  The conference sought to update and complete sections on Defensive Cyberspace Operations, Protections of Civilians, Logistics, Inter-agency Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response, and the Glossary.  I was assigned to the Glossary section which compiles new terminology, acronyms, and definitions from the other working group.  This allowed me a great opportunity to see what every section was working on as well as meet experts from foreign governments, USAID, the IFRC and other NGOs, and different directorates of the US military. I was also asked to research options for a regional case study to include in the Inter-agency Cooperation section.  This greatly increased my familiarity with multinational operations in USINDOPACOMs area of responsibility.

USINDOPACOM Area of Command

My background as a Special Forces Communications Sergeant has given me exposure to planning on the tactical level and this internship expanded that planning knowledge to include the operational and strategic level.  My main projects working for the GPOI team was to create a spreadsheet that compiled the GPOI partner nations’ military force pledges to United Nations peacekeeping and identified the priorities for training programs location and subject.  Creating the pledge tracker required research into all of the different types of military units that are sent to support UN missions.  These included infantry, engineering, force headquarters support, medical, military police, reconnaissance, riverine, special forces, transportation and logistics units.  For the MPAT I was assigned the task of incorporating the changes to the MNF SOP from the conference in New Zealand.

Oahu is a great place for recreation as well as professional development.  The close relationship with my office was increased with participation in the MPAT fencing club and attendance of the MNF SOP 20 workshop.  There are numerous hikes, beaches, and coral reefs that are great to explore with other interns in the program.  The food is also unique due to the many cultural influences from Hawaii’s diverse immigrant population.  Hawaiian poke is a personal favorite.  Getting to know all of the great people in the office: Tak, Dan, Bernie, Joe, Bob, Bobby Ray, Murray, John, and Scott was a lot of fun.  Additionally, getting to know all of the other interns from Texas A&M, University of San Diego, University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and other schools was great as well.  I want to especially thank Steven “Tak” Takekoshi, Crysti Woods, Dr. John Wood, Professor Robert Murrett, the Global Programs Coordinator at Maxwell, and Gerald B., and Daphna Cramer for their support during this experience.

Chris Tonsmeire completed his MAIR degree in December 2018.

Chris Tonsmeire in Hawaii

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Libby Kokemoor Receives Crash Course in Defense Strategy in Hawaii

In June 2018, I arrived on Oahu to begin my internship as a Summer Fellow at the headquarters of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or USINDOPACOM. One of six geographic combatant commands under the Department of Defense, USINDOPACOM had recently assumed a new name (formerly, U.S. Pacific Command) as well as a new Commander, Admiral Phil Davidson, less than two weeks before I arrived. USINDOPACOM’s area of responsibility covers nearly half the earth’s surface and stretches from the west coast of the U.S. to the west coast of India, bringing with it a set of challenges as diverse as the region itself and encompassing several of America’s most steadfast allies. The dynamism of the Indo-Pacific was highlighted when my first week coincided with President Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

As part of the Strategy and Policy branch, which develops strategy and plans for the command’s area of responsibility in accordance with national guidance such as the National Defense Strategy, I grappled with a new language – Department of Defense acronyms – but received support and encouragement, and a crash course in the Napoleonic military staff structure, from those around me. As a joint command, USINDOPACOM’s staff includes personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, as well as Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and liaison officers from other federal agencies, each bringing different perspectives to the work of the command.

One of the highlights of the summer was observing the 2018 Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest international naval exercise, which takes place every two years in Honolulu. In addition to improving interoperability between forces of different countries (such as Vietnam, participating this year for the first time), RIMPAC is an opportunity for building international trust and cultural exchange. This was on full display during open ship tours, as vessels from the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, the Philippines and other countries welcomed visitors aboard (with the Peruvian sailors offering samples of RIMPAC pisco aboard their ship!).

Working at USINDOPACOM throughout an eventful summer gave me an unparalleled opportunity to apply my academic work at Maxwell in national security and Asia-Pacific affairs to thorny strategic questions in a rapidly evolving environment – with just enough time to enjoy the beauty of Hawai’i as well.

Libby Kokemoor is a joint MPA/MAIR student in her final semester. She is also a Robertson Fellow. During her second Fall Semester, she also interned at the U.S. Department of State.

Libby Kokemoor in front of the naval hospital ship USNS Mercy during RIMPAC ship tours

MPA/MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

Sarah Buell, How DOD Does International Cooperation

Sarah Buell came into the MAIR degree as a Fast Track student directly from Maxwell’s BA International Relations program.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern for the Department of Defense, in the Office of the Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, in the International Cooperation Directorate. Essentially, International Cooperation (IC) works to form long-term armaments and military partnerships with our allies and friendly countries. It creates agreements with these countries on weapons and communications systems, vehicles, aircraft and other technologies. It is almost like the diplomatic component of acquisition at the Pentagon.

I gained a lot of experience with prepping our Undersecretary and our International Cooperation director with preparing to engage with an international counterpart. On one occasion, I was able to write all of the briefing materials for a meeting the IC director had with an ambassador. I then got to attend the meeting and watch the director use the talking points that I had come up with. It was extremely satisfying to see that the work I had done could actually be used.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon

Interestingly enough, this internship taught me about a lot of coordination, and showed me that I had more backbone than I thought I did. Among other things, I was put in charge of handling reservations for a trip that the Undersecretary was supposed to take. When the trip got cancelled, I was then in charge of cancelling all of them. When a cancellation did not go through, I spent a long time on the phone calmly with the hotel explaining why we should not be charged. I got a partial refund. Everyone in my office said that they were impressed that I was able to assert myself like that. It gave me the confidence I needed to be able to handle more difficult tasks in the future.

This internship introduced me to how the Department of Defense interacts with our allies. I learned that diplomacy and long-standing relationships are important, even for our defense interests. I also learned how to assert myself in an effective manner. In short, I learned policy and practical skills while increasing confidence in my professional self.

Sarah Buell at the Pentagon Visitor’s Center while assisting with escorting around the building

MAIR Program at the Maxwell School

International Relations Undergraduate Program

  • For more about the Fast Track BA/MA program, contact the Director of Admissions, Christine Omolino,  at comolino@syr.edu

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Jena Daggett, Humanitarian Assistance at DOD

Jena Daggett is a recent alumni of the joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree between the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools.

Jena Daggett

For my Spring 2018 semester, I interned in Colorado Springs at the headquarters for NORAD and the United States Northern Command . I was placed within the J9 Interagency Directorate in the Civil-Military Cooperation Division. My role was as a Humanitarian Assistance Analyst working with Mexico and The Bahamas.

In this role, I worked directly with different partners, especially the consulates and embassies, to facilitate humanitarian assistance projects in under served communities. My role as an action officer began in the conceptualization phase (discussing and researching needs in different communities across the two countries) and continued through the evaluation phase, with many steps in between necessary for success.

My first project concerned a prosthetics oven in Tijuana; the donation ceremony included several Mexican and American leaders and has already helped to impact individuals with physical disabilities in that state, who previously did not have access to medical prosthetics for missing limbs. A later project heavily utilized my second degree for Public Diplomacy, in that the press release I drafted was used in several Mexican outlets following collaboration between the Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Department of State, and local non-governmental organizations in Mexico.

The experience I gained throughout this semester has truly been eye-opening and exceptional. I did not have a strong understanding of this component of the DoD’s work and am thrilled I was able to apply the skills I gained at Maxwell and Newhouse to help improve our nation’s strategic relationships.

NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Joint MAIR/MSPR degree from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Alexcia Chambers, Civil Support Planning at NORAD & USNORTHCOM

Alexcia Chambers completed her joint MA International Relations and MS Public Relations (MAIR/MSPR) degree  in Spring 2018. During the program she was also a virtual intern with the U.S. Department of State and an intern at ProDialogo, a Peruvian peace NGO in Lima.

Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado hosts several important Headquarters for the Department of Defense (DOD). From January to May, I had the privilege of interning at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) & U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), a bi-national Headquarters with the United States and Canada that is tasked with homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation.

The headquarters is divided in nine directorates and numerous special offices. During my time at N&NC, I worked in the Strategy, Policy and Plans Directorate (J-5). The J-5 develops strategy, doctrine, policy, plans, and security cooperation activities within the Interagency, and with multi-national allies like The Bahamas, Canada and Mexico.

The Civil Support Plans branch of the J-5—where I worked—focuses specifically on planning for incidences within the U.S. and its territories that require the DOD to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as it coordinates national-level responses in the homeland.

As a Joint Operations Planner, I led the development, coordination, and briefing of the Mission Analysis for the FY19 priority-focus planning scenario, the New Madrid Seismic Zone catastrophic earthquake. This project brought me to Franklin, Tennessee where I briefed the plan at Joint Exercise Life Cycle (JELC) meetings for Ardent Sentry exercise development.

Separately, I also worked on an effort to improve the way the critical transportation community conducts assessment during a response. The template I created was adopted by FEMA Headquarters and will be exercised in the 2018 National Level Exercise, with the intention of later incorporating it into all future FEMA responses.

Before coming to NORAD & USNORTHCOM, I had no idea about strategic planning. Four months later, gaining employment as a strategist is my main goal. Planning encompasses so many important skills championed by the Syracuse Public Diplomacy program—strategic thinking, crisis management, building bridges between entities, breaking down complex problems into smaller pieces, etc.—and channels that energy into improving the way our government works for the people. The work is extremely fulfilling, and I am grateful to this internship for guiding me in this direction.

Alexcia Chambers

Transforming Conflict in Peru by Alexcia Chambers

Joint MAIR/MSPR degree from the Maxwell and Newhouse Schools

The Newhouse School

The Maxwell School

Liad Roytfarb Works in Technology Accelerator at DoD

Liad Roytfarb is a current student in the Atlantis Program, a unique dual degree MAIR/MPP program with the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. He participated in the Maxwell in Washington Program over the summer.

During the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to intern in Washington DC at MD-5, also known as the National Security Technology Accelerator. MD-5 is an emerging Department of Defense program which attempts to promote Civil-Military industry innovation, and seeks ways to spur innovation across the department. The program focuses on three broad fields: Education, Collaboration and Acceleration. It is situated at the National Defense University, which enables it to tackle all three fields effectively. The goal of the program is to maintain and promote the role of the United States as a global leader in defense; the initiators believe that this can be achieved by building bridges between the technology and security sectors.

Liad Roytfarb

As an international student, I found the internship a unique and challenging experience. The main obstacle was familiarizing myself with jargon from different spheres, such as technology and military, a task that proved to be difficult. Moreover, it had to be done effectively and swiftly in order to contribute to the diverse set of tasks handed out on a daily basis. Luckily, my boss and mentor, Mr. Justin Dunnincliff, is a Maxwell alumnus, who assisted me in every aspect and helped integrate me into the team since day one. This enabled me to learn quickly and, I hope, to contribute to a wide range of tasks and ventures. It was an interesting experience for me, because I got a close look at the Defense departments’ efforts to achieve a set of its vast organizational goals. The ability to implement methods and ideas from my own country and past experience was very rewarding; altogether this was a huge lesson I will take with me.

I would recommend this internship for any graduate student interested in private-public partnerships, working relations in the US government and DOD programs in particular. The organization and the internship have a very clear ‘on the go’ nature, which should suit any candidate who likes fast paced and ever-changing tasks. I enjoyed learning from the deep knowledge and practical experience of all senior staff in the program, as its small size enables close knit working relations.  Since the program was launched just a year ago there is much place for growth and implementation of ideas by interns and staff alike. This constitutes a great opportunity for any Maxwell student in DC and, in my opinion, would be an unforgettable experience.

Liad Roytfarb Gains European Experience in Berlin

MAIR at Maxwell

Atlantis Program

Maxwell in Washington

Christie Gingras, Pacific Command in Hawaii

Christie Gingras is a joint MPA/MAIR student with one more semester of studies remaining. She is a Robertson Fellow and a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to intern at United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) in Hawaii. Within PACOM, I interned for the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative, a State Department program implemented by Department of Defense. In support of the program, I conducted feasibility and trend analyses, wrote case studies, implemented a new monitoring system, and provided recommendations for a new course evaluation system. Additionally, I was able to attend the Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centers Conference in Sri Lanka as part of the GPOI team.

This internship was an incredible experience, but three aspects of the internship stood out as being particularly advantageous to my future career.  First, I was able to observe civilian-military as well as interagency cooperation, both within the federal government and abroad. Learning how the military and DoD operates will be invaluable in a future career in post conflict reconstruction, where they will be involved in reconstruction efforts. Next, I was able to build on my ground-level experience in the Peace Corps and appreciate how, at the higher, operational level, programs are managed in support of the strategic policy for the region. Finally, I was able to spend time networking with other individuals at the combatant command who connected me with colleagues in Washington, D.C.; I plan on leveraging these connections in the fall as I begin my job search for after graduation.

While not working, I took advantage of living in Hawaii. I hiked and enjoyed the beaches. I learned fencing from one colleague and krav maga from another. All in all, I had an incredible time and will be dreaming of O’ahu during Syracuse’s long winter!

Christie Gingras at her fencing class
Association of Asia-Pacific Peace Operations Training Centers Conference in Sri Lanka. Christie Gingras, back row, 17th from left

Mark Temnycky, Greetings From DOD

My name is Mark Temnycky. I am a Ukrainian-American pursuing a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations. I am also seeking a Certificate of Advanced Study in the European Union and Contemporary Europe, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in National Security Studies.

This fall I was fortunate to intern at the U.S. Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy (DoD: OSD), located at the Pentagon, where the duration of the internship lasted 16 weeks. During this period I assisted in developing U.S. and NATO strategy and policies; represented the DoD in interagency meetings, ensuring Department equities are protected while facilitating accomplishments of U.S. policy objects; prepared briefings, decision papers, and action memos for senior DoD officials; and interacted weekly with officials in the National Security Council, Department of State, Intelligence Agencies, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Mission to NATO.

During my days off, including the weekends, I was able to explore the numerous riches that Washington, D.C. has to offer. For example, I visited many of the memorials, visited the various Smithsonian museums throughout Washington, and attended numerous cultural events at embassies and festivals. I was also exposed to the sports culture in Washington, where I met some players from the U.S. men’s national soccer team; some friends and I attended the U.S. vs. New Zealand friendly at RFK Stadium, and we watched the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Washington Redskins in an NFC East division game at FedExField.

Overall I am very blessed and thankful for this experience. I learned more about the various administrative processes of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. NATO Policy, the various issues that NATO faces during the twenty first century, and the strength that the NATO Allies have in order to overcome these issues. The experience was simply surreal. Thank you Washington!

Mark Temnycky at the Pentagon.

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