By Milton Mariani RodriguezNovember 9, 2020
International Students attending the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) get first-hand exposure to the U.S.FORT BENNING, GA – Just as important, if not more, than the formal training students attending WHINSEC is the opportunity to learn and experience life in U.S.To that effect, WHINSEC embraces DoD’s Field Studies Program (FSP) into all course curriculums. The FSP is a mandated program established in AR12-15 Chapter 11. The goal of the FSP is to ensure that international students (IMS) have an understanding of the responsibilities of the government, the military and citizens to protect, preserve and respect the rights of every individual. The program is an integral part of the IMS experience at WHINSEC and it is considered an educational and learning activity, as we brief the students it is a class outside of the classroom.“Due to the pandemic, we have been forced to find innovative ways to continue to provide our students with such a valuable opportunity,” said Cecilia Alexander, FSP coordinator for the Institute.She added, “we have reached out to establishments from Columbus and Atlanta we normally showcase for our students and have been able to create virtual tours.”As part of WHINSEC’s Line of Effort of Developing Leaders, students from the Non-Commissioned Officers Professional Development (NCOPD) Course had the opportunity to combine their FSP trip with an in person and virtual tour.In the morning they toured the National Infantry Museum, returned to WHINSEC for lunch, where they had the opportunity to have lunch with the command group.The commandant and the command sergeant major addressed the group and told them of the importance of the NCO Corp, and how the NCOs are the backbone of the army. The commandant also emphasized that they are emissaries, once they return to their countries they are the trainers for the junior NCOs and that they should apply what they have learned here to professionally develop their personnel.For the virtual tour, they had; welcome remarks from the Mayor of Columbus, briefing from the City Manager, a video showcasing all the amenities that Columbus has to offer, and a briefing from the City’s Police Department.The students were appreciative of the briefings and had the opportunity to compare the US way of life with their own. All in all the objectives were met and the students have a better understanding of the United States.