War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at Risk

Rowan Humphries ’19, Contributing Writer

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Members of the Dickinson community reacted with concern to news about the possible closure of the U.S. Army War College’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI), which has provided internships for Dickinson students for nearly a decade.  

“Closure [of the institute] would be a setback for the War College and for Dickinson,” said Doug Stuart, professor of international studies and political science and adjunct professor at the Army War College. “The activities of PKSOI enrich the War College by creating opportunities for military officers to interact with representatives of civilian agencies and [international non-governmental organizations] with rich experience in peacemaking,” he continued. 

The PKSOI has opened its doors to many Dickinson students interested in conflict management and security. Since 2010, through a formal agreement, approximately 12 Dickinson students a year participate in the PKSOI’s internship program, often taking part in research projects and contributing to studies, according to Stuart and an article on Dickinson’s website. Dickinson and the Army War College also have faculty-sharing agreements. 

“The internship allowed me to hone my research and communication skills and broadened my perspective on the intersecting roles of law, international relations and the U.S. military,” said Sarah Mazer ’19, who interned at the PKSOI during the Spring 2017 semester. “PKSOI’s closure would eliminate a truly unique opportunity for Dickinson students, many of whom come to Dickinson because of its global focus. More importantly, I worry about the worldwide implications of increasing military budgets overall while eliminating funding for organizations that seek to maintain peace and stability in post-conflict states,” said Mazer.

Stuart does not believe the closure of the PKSOI would do serious damage to the Dickinson-Army War College partnership, citing their “strong and multifaceted” relationship. He pointed out the recent increase in War College colleagues teaching at Dickinson, calling it a “win-win form of cooperation.

The future of the PKSOI has been in jeopardy since Secretary of the Army Mark Esper recommended to Secretary of Defense James Mattis earlier this year that the institute be shuttered, according to a blog post published by the Council on Foreign Relations. 

The fate of Dickinson’s internship program with the PKSOI remains unclear, absent an official announcement about the status of the PKSOI, said Amity Fox, associate dean of Academic Advising and Director of the Internship Program. 

The PKSOI’s mission is to “corroboratively [develop] and [integrate] peace and stability capabilities across the U.S. government, international organizations, and the community of interest in order to enable the success of peace and stability activities and missions,” according to the institute’s website.  

“Since my arrival at Dickinson last year, I have come to admire the rigor and commitment of the U.S. Army War College, its professionalism and its dedication to peacekeeping and to the creation of a less violent and more humane world,” said Dickinson President Margee Ensign in an editorial published in The Sentinel in opposition to the PKSOI’s possible closure. 

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