The School of Diplomacy's Abd el Kader (AEK) research team, under the guidance of visiting fellow, Mohamad Mirghahari B.A. '02/M.A. 04, has been hard at work making themselves known in national security circles since their visit to Washington, D.C. last year to present their research findings and recommendations on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan to the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) .
The group recently traveled back to Washington, D.C. to present a new research project, but this time to the White House National Security Council, Department of Defense Joint Staff, Joint Staff Intelligence (J2), and virtually, to the U.S. Army Africa/Southern European Task G2 (USARAF). The 2018-2019 research team is comprised of eight graduate diplomacy students: Erick Agbleke, Patricia Zanini Graca, Michael Hamilton, Lis Kabashi, Katherine Landes, Shawn McFall, Oluwagbemiga Oyeneye, and Edder Zarate.
Seton Hall is currently the only academic institution collaborating with USARAF, a faction of the U.S. military focused on upholding American interests in Africa while assisting in the advancement of security and development throughout the continent. USARAF submitted a variety of topics to the research team that they felt warranted specialized attention. After reviewing the proposed topics, the AEK team chose to tackle extremism in North Africa, and over the course of this academic year, they compiled a research report titled "U.S. Army Africa in the Maghreb: Ensuring Stability and Influence for Long-Term Partnerships."
In conducting their research on North Africa, the team focused on Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia and came away recommending that the U.S. Army utilize a framework known as the 3-2-1 Method. They note,
This method targets three specific audiences: the Maghrebi population, political elites, and U.S. Allies in two ways: by providing a U.S. alternative to stability and influence, and by undermining our regional adversaries' influence efforts. This sends one clear message: that the United States is the best security partner for North African states moving forward.
Their final report outlines how the U.S. can engage with military forces in North Africa through non-military means such as through humanitarian assistance, training and radicalization programs, and social media platforms. These initiatives would not only decrease Russian and Chinese influence in the region but also keep the U.S. from resorting to traditional security practices that may destabilize North Africa further.
The research team's findings and recommendations were well-received by everyone they engaged with during their visit to Washington, D.C. At the White House, they presented to Ms. Olivia Troye, the Special Advisor to the Vice President for Homeland Security, Counterterrorism, International Organizations and Africa. Following the presentation, Troye praised the students for their work and noted that their briefing was on par with, if not better than what is provided by most analysts she's worked with. She also committed to following up with the team after the presentation and confirmed that she would be distributing the research amongst her colleagues. The team also had the distinct opportunity to see President Sisi of Egypt arrive and be greeted by President Donald Trump.
Following their presentation at the White House, the team traveled to the Pentagon to brief Mr. Jim Dempsey, the Senior Officer in the Special Operations Division at the Pentagon, as well as Ms. Amber Soon, the Senior Analyst in the J2. During the brief, Mr. Dempsey acknowledged support for the team's recommendation of creating a program that targets non-commissioned officers in North Africa and their development as future leaders, and plans on offering it to the Department.
Mr. Patrick Mellon, the Deputy Director of Crisis and Current Operations in the National Military Command Center in the J2, later joined the group to discuss current operations being overseen by the department. He indicated that he intends to provide the incoming J2 and his staff copies of the students' research and noted that he would be disseminating it to the Africa audiences throughout the Pentagon.
Collectively, the AEK research team's work is poised to encourage more effective military strategies that could foster better relations with other African countries outside of the Maghreb. Their efforts are but one example of What Great Minds Can Do in diplomacy and international relations, not after graduation, but right now.
To see how other students have been applying their diplomacy knowledge, visit our Great Minds page.
Categories: Nation and World