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Resumption of International Staff Rides: Pearl Harbor ISR 2022

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Over Spring Break, 41 SAIS students and faculty traveled to Hawaii to conduct a staff ride to study the attack on Pearl Harbor. A staff ride is an immersive, experiential study of a military battle or campaign. Staff rides were first used by the Prussian General Staff to train military officers. Rather than just a battlefield tour, Staff Rides are interactive: participants learn to empathize with leaders and understand their decision making from a strategic, operational, and tactical level.

International staff rides (ISR) have a long history at SAIS. For over 20 years, students have traveled over Spring Break to Vietnam, Scotland, South Korea, and many more locations. Staff rides at SAIS not only teach about campaigns and leadership, but they also help students bond with their cohort and form long-standing connections.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, students were overjoyed to continue the tradition. This year’s ISR leadership staff consisted of 12 second-year MA students. The staff began planning in August 2021 under the guidance of SAIS’ first staff ride professor, Mr. Eric Lindsey. Eric is a 2014 graduate of SAIS, a current manager at Northrop Grumman, and a staff ride enthusiast.

The itinerary included: lunch on the USS Missouri, a private tour of the harbor by retired Navy Captain Brian Bennett, briefings at PACAF, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, a tour of the USS Bowfin Submarine, Punchbowl Cemetery, and much more. Students gave presentations throughout the trip at these and other various locations, playing the roles of prominent players in the war planning and the attack, to include: FDR, Secretary Hull, Prime Minister Konoe, Admiral Yamamoto and more.

Plans for next year’s ISR will begin soon, and the Merrill Center and Professor Lindsey encourage all who are interested to get involved either through applying to be on the staff or applying to join as a participant. Applications for staff roles and participants are open to all SAIS students, regardless of degree/concentration. Details coming soon!

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