I delayed my posting until today because I intended to write about my experience listening to President Obama speak yesterday at the Vietnam Memorial. However, due to the extremely warm weather (and humidity) and my inability to adjust from the cooler weather in Maine, I did not manage to stay in line long enough.
With that in mind, I will discuss the events of my second week at the Potomac Institute's International Center for Terrorism studies. As mentioned previously, I have been assigned the responsibility of following the latest news regarding any and all threats directed at the 2012 Olympic games. In addition to this research, I have also been assigned with the task of helping prepare Prof. Alexander for an upcoming trip to Kyrgyzstan in which he will provide an in-depth presentation regarding terrorism in Central Asia. This summit will attempt to highlight both the improvements and the problems associated with central Asia's attempt at thwarting terrorism and the narcotics based industry that helps finance these activities. My responsibility requires covering all of the basics for travel, including contacting the U.S Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in order to ensure that all of the appropriate documentation is covered. In addition, the research team and myself have each been assigned a country in central Asia in which we are asked to research the respective country's history of dealing with terrorism and their approach to combating the issue. I was given the task of researching the history of terrorism in Afghanistan, which, we all know is very rich and spans many years. Thankfully, due to the alotted time given to the Professor for his presentation, I am focusing on the period of terrorism following the Soviet withdrawal, the creation of the Taliban and the harboring of al-Qa'ida leading up to the events of 9/11.
Aside from these two projects that will undoubtedly keep me busy over the coming weeks, I have also been assigned the responsibility of helping two new interns that have recently arrived. For much of last week, I spent a considerable amount of time showing the new interns reputable sources and reliable databases that provide up to date infomration regarding terrorist activities. I have also spent time informing them on the recent terrorist networks that are plaguing the world (most notably Boko Hiram in Nigeria) and the responses (or lack thereof) by government and international organizations.
To conclude this post, I have been extremely busy surrounding myself with a topic that I am extremely passionate about. Although the days are sometimes long, they are certainly eventful and never dull. I will keep you posted regarding the research projects and any other assignment I am asked to do. Another priviledge being in Arlington, VA was the ability to visit the Arlington Cemetary for Memorial Day. Words cannot adequately describe the sobering feeling and the appreciation one has when they visit such a place. It is even more memorable given the fact that I have recently learned of the passing of an individual who I spent a great deal of time around in elementary school and to a lesser extent in college. The passing of Capt. John "Jay" Brainard on Monday as the result of a helicopter crash certainly highlights the sacrfices that are made in this 'War on Terror' and it certainly hardens my resolve to continue to do my part (albeit a very small one in comparison to those who are actively out there on the battlefield).