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Midshipmen Study Civil-Military Relations in Turkey

Posted on: August 22, 2013 08:00 EDT by MC1(AW/SW) Tony Spiker

Summer Training offers midshipmen the opportunity to experience what their life in the fleet will be like after graduation. This summer, three midshipmen were able to take their training in a different direction with a research trip to Turkey.

Through the Naval Academy’s International Programs Office, in conjunction with the ALLIES (Alliance Linking Leaders in Education and the Services) program, Midshipmen 2nd Class Drew Calcagno and Shannon Cuthbert and Midshipman 1st Class John Mackovjak, all members of the USNA ALLIES chapter, participated in a joint research project studying civilian and military affairs in Turkey.

The midshipmen worked with cadets from other service academies as well as students from Tufts University and Boston University.

“This trip really helped see the importance of having a strong civil-military relationship, and exposed us to many different points of view,” said Cuthbert.  “We were able to interview everyone from college professors to politicians to journalists, and came away with a much stronger understanding of their culture.” 

“One of the most interesting parts of the trip was visiting Galipoli,” said Calcagno.  “It exposed us to the Turkish side of the battle, their point of view.  To see that adds another level of information to think about and really helps our critical thinking skills.”

ALLIES is a national program designed by students to form strong bonds between students at service academies and civilian universities so that both groups will better understand the goals of the other as each moves to higher levels of responsibility in the military and government.

In the past the ALLIES summer research project was an out-of-pocket expense for the mids who participated.  However, this year they were able to fund it as part of their summer training through the International Programs Office’s Language Skills, Regional Expertise and Culture (LREC) program.

Recognizing that future leaders need a broader cultural understanding of the world, the LREC program coordinates immersion programs designed to expose midshipmen to different cultures and help them to understand how cultural influences affect international relationships.

 “The nexus between ALLIES and the IPO LREC really is about understanding other cultures,” said Cmdr. Arthur Gibb, officer representative for the USNA ALLIES chapter.  “While we were focused on civil-military relations, we could not begin to understand that dynamic without understanding their culture.”

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