By Lt. Col. John Gasner, USAF, APCSS Chief, Outreach and Alumni Coordination Branch
As part of the new Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies’ educational outreach program, retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Smith recently traveled to several countries in the Asia-pacific region, most recently to Nepal and Singapore.
In Nepal, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Smith experienced, first-hand, some of the effects of Nepal’s most pressing security concerns, the Maoist insurgency. Despite the precautionary communications blackouts and curfews, Nepalese officials, several of whom are APCSS alumni, warmly and enthusiastically welcomed Lt. Gen. (Ret) Smith. He met with U.S.
Ambassador James Moriarty and various Nepalese civil and military government leaders to discuss current pressing security issues and how APCSS might provide related educational assistance, as deemed appropriate. As a result of these meetings, and at the behest of the ambassador and Nepalese officials, APCSS may have the opportunity to partner with representatives of Nepal’s national Tribhuvan University in hosting a regional outreach education event that focuses on facilitating interagency coordination among governmental and political party officials.
Regardless of the final decision to support an educational outreach event in Nepal, the trip was a resounding success in terms of energizing continuing security-cooperation discussions among Nepalese alumni of APCSS and in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between APCSS and the Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, a subset of the Tribhuvan University.
“Whatever the forum or format, we at APCSS are available to partner with counterparts in Nepal on regional outreach education related to security issues critical to Nepal today and tomorrow,” said Lt. Gen. (Ret) Smith
Likewise, in Singapore, Lt. Gen. Smith (Ret) met with U.S. and host-nation officials to discuss the opportunity for partnering with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in Singapore on a conference addressing a shared security concern. Among those he met were the honorable Patricia Herbold, U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, the Commandant of Singapore’s Armed Forces Training Institute (SAFTI), Brigadier General Jimmy Tan, and the Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS), Mr. Barry Desker. All representatives supported the regional education outreach program concept, and IDSS welcomed the possibility of expanding cooperative efforts in partnership with APCSS for outreach events such as a mini-course, conference, or research project, or via faculty exchange.
Additionally, Lt. Gen. (Ret) Smith met with both Nepalese and Singaporean alumni of APCSS, who offered valuable feedback in terms of how APCSS might improve some of its in-residence courses.
The trips to Nepal and Singapore helped re-introduce Lt. Gen. (Ret) Smith to officials in the region and offered a new dimension of unique value added in partnering with APCSS in future efforts toward improving security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.