NEWPORT, R.I. – Tom Fedyszyn, professor with National Security Decision Making (NSDM) at the Naval War College (NWC), had high expectations for the first-ever Shadow Faculty Initiative when he helped develop the idea in 2010. The program brought professors from the War Colleges of Azerbaijan and Georgia to Newport, Jan. 11-28, to learn from their American counterparts how to develop a comprehensive strategy and force planning curriculum.
“This ‘shadow concept’ has never really been attempted at our War College,” said Fedyszyn, who visited both participating countries several times over the past two years. “I’ve delivered guest lectures, spoke with students and faculty and evaluated their curriculums. They really needed to experience firsthand this learning environment in order to take their defense education programs to the next level.”
Fedyszyn believed this proactive approach was necessary, not only for each country’s representatives to learn strategy and force planning, but also to directly observe how NWC faculty prepared lessons, conducted seminars and encouraged creative thinking.
“These countries are looking to NATO and the United States to develop their militaries along ‘western’ lines,” said Fedyszyn, who noted that the Warsaw Initiative Fund—run through the Office of the Secretary of Defense and NATO—and the Partnership for Peace funded the program.
The highest priority at the War Colleges of Azerbaijan and Georgia involves strategy and force planning, so NWC’s Security, Strategy and Forces (SSF) sub-course directed this year’s event. The visiting scholars were paired with four American faculty members and attended the same classes, workshops, lectures of opportunity, and professional presentations during the three-week visit.
Azerbaijan’s Imran Garayev and Zafar Najafov shadowed Professors James Cook and David Burbach, respectively. Maj. Grigol Chelidze from Georgia was paired with Lt. Col. Mike Mahony, while his countryman, Maj. Zaza Kvaraia, teamed with Tom Fedyszyn.
“We took them under our wing from the moment they arrived,” Fedyszyn remarked. “They had ready access to research tools and facilities, libraries and our faculty for the entire exercise.”
The visitors received instruction on topics such as National Security Strategy, Strategic Direction, Approaches to Force Planning, and Maritime Strategy and Forces; and they learned to develop professional teaching notes and a working syllabus to take back home.
The end result proved to be beneficial for all countries involved, not only for course development, but also for a mutual exchange of ideas.
“From reading our curriculum our visitors learned what we teach,” said Professor David Burbach, who lectures on Strategy and Forces at NSDM. “They also realized that we give our students—through lively seminar discussions—a free opportunity to explore and debate the issues. I’m hopeful they’ll instill that learning spirit in their own officers.”
The representatives from Georgia and Azerbaijan echoed those sentiments at the event’s conclusion.
“The timing was so beneficial to our military school because we are currently developing our own staff course and we hope to have a curriculum like the Naval War College for our senior officers,” said Maj. Zaza Kvaraia. “This was also a tremendous opportunity for us to share our thoughts and experiences with the American faculty.”
“There were a lot of interesting lectures about strategy planning, defense planning and national security,” Professor Imran Garayev said. “Learning how to prepare classes like these will help us become better instructors. All of us are excited to return home and apply what we’ve learned to our course curriculums.”
“Results like these should be a real shot-in-the-arm for their intermediate and senior course planning,” Fedyszyn added. “This approach also has universal applicability if the payoff is as high as it appears. Other nations around the world will want to conduct this type of international program in the future.”
By David Reese, Naval War College Public Affairs