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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Future of Your War

A group of senior United States Army leaders came to UMass unarmed and ready to engage students and faculty in discussion about the current challenges facing the country and its army. The reception, which was hosted by the William Joiner Center and took place in the Ryan Lounge in the McCormack building on May 3rd, was an opportunity for attendees to voice their opinions in front of decorated Army veterans who have fought in Iraq and other military operations around the world.

“My fear is not the protesting college students but the inert, indifferent college students,” said Dr. Paul Camacho, the introducing speaker. “The military and the civil community have got to mesh.”

Confirming the panel’s fears of lack of student interest, several seats were unoccupied while presenters displayed power point presentations and fielded questions from those who did show up. Prior to the event, Joiner Center members spread fliers and posters across campus in hopes of drawing attention, according to Sean Lunde.

The twelve panelists came as part of the Eisenhower Fellows of the U.S. Army War College. An assorted group of lieutenant colonels, faculty directors and Air Force and Navy officials travel across the country visiting campuses, and seeking open dialogue with students and faculty members. The aim in 2006 has been discussing “National Security For A New Era;” a hot topic in the local and national media.

The first presenter was Lt. Col. Phil Skuta. Skuta joined the Marine Corps (USMC) in 1984 and most recently served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Skuta’s presentation was centered on “Helping Partners Fight Terror,” which covered the important task of training Iraqi security forces. Skuta emphasized the necessity for organized protection within Iraq, as the country builds its own government.

“The strategy in Iraq, as our President has said, is ‘As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down,'” said Skuta. “It won’t be an easy fight and it won’t be a short fight.”

After Skuta’s presentation, Colonel Paul J. Wood stood to present his commentary on transformations in the armed forces. Wood graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1982, and has spent his last four years of service as a recruiting battalion commander and a professor of military science at the University of Washington. Wood’s history lesson depicted the growth of the armed forces during World War I and its subsequent decline after Vietnam.

“[The Army] attempted to apply our conventional methods in Vietnam,” said Wood. “We got stung, and now have to have an all volunteer force.”

Wood said that the success of the Gulf War eased the bruises lingering from the post-Vietnam War era for the United States armed services. According to Wood, there are currently volunteer troops serving all over the world, dealing with high intensity combat and humanitarian work.

“The all volunteer army works,” said Wood, “and that does not need to change.”

Despite Wood’s hopeful testimonial regarding the U.S. military, Dr. Camacho’s introductory words regarding indifference among young people remained strikingly apparent.

“If this were thirty years ago,” commented Dr. Camacho to Sean Lunde. “I would have had fifty students camped outside waiting for this event.”