JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Learning about our nation's allies is valuable to the United States military. It enables members to professionally develop while gaining insight into the doctrine and expertise of other countries, which is key to building relationships.

In October 2019, Capt. Nima Sarrafan, 56th Theater Information Operations Group, Washington National Guard, had the opportunity to attend the United Kingdom Intermediate Command and Staff College in Shrivenham, England.

"It is basically their version of the Captain's Career Course, training in doctrine, staff planning and strategy," Sarrafan said. "The class also was well attended by international students, which increased our joint effectiveness and best practices while also lending to cultural appreciation."

The Intermediate Command and Staff Course (ICSC) is a post-graduate course that equips officers of each service, both British and international, with the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the full range of junior command and staff appointments. It allows officers to step outside their professional specializations, to broaden their leadership and management skills and to analyze key defense issues at the higher tactical level and in joint force environments.

Opportunities like this come up often for members of the Guard across the United States but are rarely seized.

"Chief Andrew Rose was looking out for me; he brought up this broadening opportunity with the National Guard Bureau," Sarrafan said. "Only 10 people had applied for 15 spots, so I applied and was able to attend. Not only was I able to develop professionally, but also personally."

Sarrafan was able to travel to London during the two-week class for a cultural day, sharing the experience with other U.S. officers, as well as Jordanian, Ukrainian and Nepal military members.

"I know I learned more about the way that other militaries are structured and their missions; it is definitely different from ours," said Sarrafan. "If you get the chance to attend a course or do overseas training, do it. Don't limit yourself. Take the chances when they come."