TALBOT / PERSONAL GLIMPSES
Activities in and out of the Studio
Participating in a National Security Seminar at
The U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA
that's me seated at the right hand end of the picture below (see inset).
When the mail brought me an invitation to participate in a National
Security Seminar at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania,
I thought someone must have made a mistake. I imagined the Department
of the Army had me confused with some other "Jonathan Talbot."
Why invite me? I had no military experience, knew little about national
security, and could not imagine what I could contribute to the dialogue.
But the opportunity seemed too good to be missed. I knew that if I
attended I would learn a lot. I didn't begin to imagine how rich an
experience it would be and how much I would learn.
How had it happened that I had been invited to this event? 'Though
I did not know it, it had all started back in the 1978 when I did
an etching titled "Through the Pass" which pictured a biplane
flying through some snow-covered mountains. I sold most of the signed
and numbered impressions of this etching to an art dealer in New York
and promptly put them out of my mind.
seems that the dealer in New York sold some of the impressions of
my etching to a dealer in Germany who was running art auctions at
U.S. Military installations in Europe. At one of those auctions a
young American officer purchased an impression of "Through the
Marsha and I arrived in Carlisle late Sunday night. Comfortable off-campus accomodations had been arranged by the Army and, as you would expect, everything ran smoothly. Monday morning we drove the few miles to the college where we received our "orientation kits" and each guest participant met his or her individual liason officer. Mine was Lieutenant Colonel Keith Armstrong.
|Keith explained to us that the day would begin with a keynote speaker followed by a series of discussions. He further explained that, because of space considerations, arrangements had been made for spouses who wished to watch the proceedings (instead of venturing off on guided sightseeing trips) to do so on closed circuit TV. Marsha choose this option and I arranged to meet her at the end of the afternoon. Then Keith took me up to our seminar group discussion room to meet the facilitator and other members of Seminar Group 4. Shortly thereafter we went to the auditorium to hear a welcome by MG R.R. Ivany, Commandant of the War College and then an address on Defense Issues by LTG K. P. Byrnes. General Byrnes remarks were followed by a question and answer period after which I followed Keith back to our seminar group discussion room where we got to know each other as we candidly discussed what we had heard.||
This was, as it turned out, the basic format of all our days at the seminar. First we gathered to hear a keynote speaker and then we returned to our discussion rooms for a day of discussions prompted by the remarks of the keynote speaker. There were also some optional lectures right after lunch for those of us who wished to attend them. The keynote speakers included Lieutenant General K. P. Byrnes, The Honorable John M. Simon, Dr. R. H. Kohn, The Honorable Lawrence S. Eagleburger, and Retired General Wesley K. Clark.
Fortunately it turned out that as long as there were empty seats at the back of the auditorium after everyone had been seated, Marsha could hear the keynote speakers in person. On four of the five days she was able to do that.
members of Seminar Group 4 had, with the exception of its seven guests,
been together for the entire year under the guidance of Professor Gabriel
Marcella. In addition to the sixteen "students" from the U.S.
and there were also a Colonel from France and a Brigadier General from
Bangladesh. The guests included a Federal Judge from Oklahoma, the Mayor
of a small town in Alaska, A State Government Official from the state
of Washington, two representatives of high-tech industry, a catfish
farmer from Arkansas, and myself.
Since I, like all seminar participants, agreed to abide by the Army's "non-attribution" and confidentiality policies, there is much that occurred during the week that I am not able to write about. I am, however, confident that in describing the following"artful" incident I will not be revealing any critical information about individuals other than myself.
Seminar group leader Professor Gabriel Marcella, in order to describe the relationship of the military to the government and the people, drew on the blackboard a diagram (reproduced as best I can remember it to the immediate right) attributed to the Prussian military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831).
depicted the military, the government, and the people as three separate
sides of an equilateral triangle. I didn't like this diagram. Not only
do triangles have sharp points but, more important, the diagram did
not reflect my experience of the relationship between these three entities.
Almost without thinking, I asked for an eraser and replaced what Gabe
had drawn with the "pizza pie" diagram at the far right. In
my diagram the entire circle represents "the people," the
green area represents the military, and the orange area represents the
government. The striped area is where the military and the government
overlap. Both "the military" and "the government"
are parts of "the people." Lightheartedly I chose to imitate
the Army fondness for acronyms and labeled the rest of us "NGNMFs,"
or Non-military, non-governmental folks.
The members of my seminar group were intelligent, educated, and concerned men and women of good will. The military members have awesome responsibilities. Some of them feel that they are doing our nation's "dirty work" and not being respected for it. We discussed the possibility that this disrespect for the military (real or perceived) was a legacy of the Vietnam Era and my own personal belief is that it is. I expect that now though, in this post-September 11th world, they are feeling more respected. At the same time, I imagine that they are, like many of us, feeling more vulnerable.
My time at the seminar has been brought into sharp focus by the events of September 11th. Some of the topics we discussed addressed the possibilities of terrorist attacks on our home ground. At the same time I was made aware that, although the military takes it orders from the executive branch of our government, congress holds the military purse-strings.
My time at the Army War College has left me with great respect for the noble intentions of the brave men and women who have sworn to protect our nation. I imagine that some of my seminar-mates are now in harm's way. This saddens me. We have become citizens of "a nation at war" even though Congress has not declared war.
seminar was marked by exceptional courtesy and genuine interest on the
part of both the hosts and the visitors. Both groups recognized that
this was a unique opportunity for social artistry and made the most
Thank you to Colonel Kevin Cunningham for inviting me to the seminar. Thank you to Colonel Keith "Stretch" Armstrong for being my "liason officer," for providing me with invaluable insights into the military, and for helping me avoid social blunders. Thank you to Major General Robert Ivany and Mrs. Ivany for their warm hospitality. Thank you to Professor Gabriel Marcella, Group 4 seminar leader, the members of Seminar Group 4, and my fellow guests for making our week together a time of deep learning.
Subsequent to my visit to the War College, Kevin Cunningham was promoted to Dean of that venerable institution. We continued to stay in touch (he was kind enough to review this webpage before I posted it) so it was with sadness and regret that I learned that he had passed away in February of 2003. His death from cancer was sudden and untimely. He was only 49. I shall always remember Kevin's warmth, courtesy, and sensitivity. It was a privilege to get to know him.
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this page is located at www.talbot1.com/otheractivities/armywarcollege.htm and was last updated March, 2003