Navy officers get cultural, political training

Tuesday - 8/31/2010, 9:40am EDT

Navy Capt. Mark Huber, the Associate Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies and Program Manager, Regional Security Education Program, Naval Postgraduate School

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By Vyomika Jairam
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Members of the military are deploying everyday to places around the world. The Navy is trying to make that transition a bit easier by giving crews an understanding of the cultural, economic, and political issues they will encounter when they reach their destinations.

Navy Captain Mark Huber is the Program Manager for the Regional Security Education Program at the Naval Postgraduate School. The program was started about 10 years ago as a response to the bombing of the USS Cole he said.

The Department of Defense looked into the bombing, and the situations that might have lead to it to prevent future such incidents. One of the report's recommendations to the Navy was that they provide senior officers with greater situational knowledge. Part of that, the Navy decided, is having an understanding of the region in which they're serving.

With that, Capt. Huber explained, the program was created to provide historical, political, and economic context for regional work. The emphasis is on providing a cultural understanding of where they'll be deployed, so the university places strong emphasis on experts with regional expertise.

The information is then relayed not just to senior officers but for all levels.

"There's also, as a matter of opportunity, a lot of engagement with sailors to provide them a cultural understanding of the areas in which they'll operate as well," Capt. Huber said.

The program provides three to five professors and experts when a crew is deployed, who then ride on the ship delivering lectures, seminars, and meeting and engaging with officers and sailors.

The program has grown dramatically, especially in recent years, Capt. Huber said. In the last five years, the number of teams the program has deployed has increased three-fold, and the audience the program has reached has doubled.

"We've gone from sort of proactively delivering these teams to the deploying units to a situation where they are contacting us themselves, in advance seeking out this service," Capt. Huber said.

The program now includes professors and experts from universities across the country, and the program has now developed separate similar service for the Army.

This interview was part of today's DoD Report. Check out all of Federal News Radio's coverage of Defense issues here.