April 7th, 2007 07:29 EST
Indian Army Officer Praises Defense Training, U.S. Culture
Quantico Marine Base, Virginia -- An Indian army officer on his first visit to the United States says his eyes were opened about its people and culture while he benefited from advanced education at the Marine Corps University.
Commenting on his graduate-degree-level course at the university's Command and Staff College, Lieutenant Colonel Manjit Singh told USINFO in a recent interview: "I would rate it as an exceptional experience."
But just as important, he said, was his social involvement with Americans, who invited him into their homes and enabled him to see that "the values we hold dear in India, like family, are also embedded in American culture."
The Marine Corps University student body comprises 3,500 officers, civilians and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) attending four professional schools and colleges as well as a number of NCO academies worldwide. The Quantico campus is home to 480 resident students, including 50 foreign military officers from 30 nations. (See related article.)
After seven months of his yearlong course, Singh rated it a "valuable experience." At the same time Singh said: "As an Indian and Sikh, I am an individual from a different culture who has come here not only to study but live with Americans. I have seen how they live and view the world, and this has also affected me."
Singh added: "What I appreciate about the Command and Staff College is that it includes international officers like myself. This is important because we are imbibing the same democratic values and professional lessons as the American officers. We are not treated like outsiders but partners in the same mission of providing security and stability in our regions."
In the Marine University's Command & Staff College class of 2006-2007, 26 of the 196 military students are from foreign nations, including India, Bahrain, Mexico and the Philippines.
In addition to offering a master’s degree in military studies, the university has a foreign language program for the current academic year that includes modern standard Arabic and sub-Saharan African French, according to the university catalog.
Case studies in the classroom of military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other conflicts, are "approached in a very broad-base, holistic manner and not in the myopic, one-sided way the press usually presents them," Singh said.
This is important, he explained: "We see the American officers studying these campaigns, in which nonbrute-force elements like civil/military relations and humanitarian operations are given top priorities and we see that the portrayal of U.S. forces, by the press and others, as aggressor or occupiers is not accurate."
Singh said he was grateful for his year at the Marine Corps University because "this chance of being a part of the American educational system is an opportunity which I'll definitely take back to India. It will not only influence me, but others I come into contact with."
By Jim Fisher-Thompson
USINFO Staff Writer