Story and photo by MC3 John R. Fischer
Posted June 2, 2010
The Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI) hosted 33 members of Iraq’s government and military at NPS May 3rd through May 21 for an intensive three-week course tailored specifically to Iraqi Ministries.
Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense each had participants in the course, from unranked civilians through general officers, male and female, from economists to engineers.
“They want to implement their own ‘Train the Trainer’ style of education and training,” said Steve Hurst, a Senior Lecturer for DRMI. “Nothing’s simple. We’ve set in place a really comprehensive plan.”
All of the interaction between DRMI and Iraq’s government was due to the determination of Melissa Henton, who had been assigned as staff for the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Global Security during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hurst explained.
“A few years ahead of her time, Ms. Henton had the vision to see that our efforts in Iraq to bring a lasting peace would only be successful if we followed our mission to defeat terrorism with an equally determined program to introduce Iraqi government ministries to the latest and best international business practices,” he said.
In August of 2007, using funds obtained by Henton, DRMI conducted the first set of many resources management related workshops in the cities of Baghdad, Erbil and Basrah. Hurst calls the recently finished course the culmination of Henton’s work to bring graduate-level education to the government of Iraq.
While Iraq has allowed select members of its military to study at NPS before, DRMI’s Iraq Resources Management Course has been one of the first successful attempts to host a large number of Iraq’s government and military members for an extended period of training in the U.S.
“If you take them out of Baghdad, and they realize there’s not a checkpoint on every corner, maybe we’re exposing people to more than just textbook knowledge here,” said Hurst.
The textbook parts were definitely intense though, said other professors and lecturers from the course. Assistant Professor Jason K. Hansen, Ph.D., explained that the course structure ran almost eight straight hours per day with multiple lectures, each followed directly by roundtable discussions in groups. This process was then repeated for each additional topic.
“We tried to relate the lecture and discussion scenarios to how they would be effective in Iraq,” said Maj. Mike Nixon, the DRMI U.S. Army Lecturer. “The course isn’t about how things work in the U.S., it’s a culmination of best practices from countries around the world tailored to the specific reconstruction issues in Iraq. It was about a semester’s worth of material crammed into three weeks – an enormous amount of information.”
Even with the intensity of the academic schedule there was some time scheduled in for relaxation, assured Charlie Orsburn, the Field Studies Program Manager for DRMI. There were visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco, affording the participants a chance to become accustomed to life and business in the U.S., and offering interactions with people from all walks of life.
“San Francisco’s 809,000 people probably still seemed small to the group when compared to Baghdad’s population of 9 million,” Orsburn said. “I’m sure they have enjoyed their experience and look forward to returning home to implement their new knowledge.”
The three weeks in Monterey represented only a small portion of DRMI’s interaction with the Iraqi government. Since the beginning of DRMI’s involvement, Hurst has made 10 different trips to Iraq on 10 different educational missions, with the rest of the team making similar commitments.
“With our work in-country and now with participants coming to our course here, we’ve been afforded the direct opportunity to make a difference in relationships for this and future generations,” Hansen said.
Hurst expressed his pride and dedication in DRMI’s involvement as well: “We could commit ourselves 24/7 to working directly with Iraq, but there are only so many of us here, and we only have so many resources. With what we’re doing, though, if everyone we touch goes back to work the next day and can see a problem differently, come up with an alternate solution, think about things in a new light – we’ve succeeded.”