NEWPORT, R.I. - A student from the U.S. Naval War College returned from Tokyo, Japan, March 8, where he served as a delegate of the Young Strategists Forum.
Lt. Cmdr. Guy Snodgrass was the U.S. delegate of a 17-person team created by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and Japan's Sasakawa Peace Foundation intended to foster the next generation of strategic thinkers on issues of international security in the Asia-Pacific region. The multinational team formed in Japan March 1, for weeklong collaborative talks. Other countries that sent delegates were: Australia, Belgium, England, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.
Snodgrass joined officers from Germany and Belgium as the only military members on the delegation.
According to Snodgrass, his experiences as an NWC student here readied him for the 12-14 hour days discussing regional policy perspectives and debating strategic competition.
"It was very much like the first few weeks of an NWC seminar, only greatly accelerated," said Snodgrass. "At the beginning, there was some hesitancy for participants to engage. But after two trimesters at NWC where seminar discussions are a part of the curriculum, I found it easy to lead the early discussions to get everyone going and comfortable. "
The importance of a key part of the nation's military strategy and NWC's mission to strengthen maritime security cooperation was reinforced throughout the trip. Snodgrass said the conference helped lay new foundations for building more robust relationships with partner nations.
"We were part of a room full of very intelligent, strategically oriented people," said Snodgrass. "This was a chance to discuss high-level policy issues with regional partners and it was incredibly beneficial. All issues were on the table, and they were conducted using the "Chatham House Rule," meaning no one was going to be quoted or cited for sharing their opinions. This contributed to frank and open dialogue."
After the first two days of seminars discussing Asia-Pacific strategic planning with Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School Professor Aaron Friedberg, the group participated in a strategy exercise that explored likely security and economic scenarios during the next five-, 15- and 25-year periods. Snodgrass and his group also got an up-close look at the ongoing disaster-recovery efforts in Sendai and at the Matsushima Japanese Air Self-Defense Force base. The trip culminated with a return to Tokyo for meetings at the Prime Minister's residence, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Finance, and with members of the Japanese Diet.
The trip experience is just beginning, Snodgrass said.
"As we rise in rank and in our respective professions, these connections we made will become even more important in communicating U.S. policy with our friends and allies, and understanding their requirements," said Snodgrass.
Scholars were tasked by the delegation organizers to keep their relationships strong by collaborating on writing scholarly articles analyzing near- and long-term challenges in the Asia Pacific region.
By James Brooks, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs
Posted by Brie Lyons