Contact David Tisdale 601.266.4499
Ala.—A University of Southern Mississippi history
professor has spent the last academic year on exchange to the U.S
Air Force’s Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery,
helping prepare future military leaders.
Dr. Andrew Wiest,
whose areas of research include World War I and II and the Vietnam
War, taught in the college’s Department of Warfighting Strategy,
which focuses its efforts on exploring the foundations of military
strategy and global security. Wiest also regularly leads a class
through Southern Miss’ British Studies Program, as well as to Vietnam,
through the university’s Office of International Programs.
The Air War
College is one of four of its kind throughout the United States
sponsored by the various branches of the military, along with the
National War College, that serves as the senior service school.
the rationale behind the program is to take the top10 percent of
lieutenant colonels and colonels and send them to these schools
to prepare for the strategic reality of becoming a general officer,”
Wiest said his
job as a historian at the college was to help his students consider
military strategy with a broader vision, as opposed to the narrow
focus of a specific military assignment or mission.
“The focus is
not on taking that hill or other aspects of specific assignments
in the field of combat, but on the overall strategy and the grand
issues involved in war,” Wiest said.
One of the topics
Wiest covered was the concept of national building, looking specifically
at the lessons learned from the Vietnam War and how they might apply
today in Iraq.
about the opportunity at Maxwell from Nick Sarantakes, a fellow
military historian who teaches at Texas A&M University at Commerce,
who Wiest met while teaching a British Studies course in 1998.
“He had been
involved with the program at Maxwell and spoke glowingly about it,
and I had also heard great things about it from Ray Skates (retired
Southern Miss history professor), so I contacted them,” Wiest said.
Wiest said that
for the past year he gained as much knowledge from his students
as he feels he imparted in the classroom. “I’ve learned a lot about
the reality of the military world from these guys,” he said. “Most
of my research and knowledge about the military has been up to and
including the Vietnam era, so I’ve picked up a lot about military
history from that point that I believe will help me develop new
courses when I return to Southern Miss.”
that at first the assignment was daunting because he had never served
in the military himself and was unsure of how he would be treated.
“They accepted me right away and made me feel like part of the military
family,” he said.
Lt. Col. Paul
Murphy of Boston, one of Wiest’ students, said he was the perfect
fit as an instructor for the program. “He’s an insightful guy and
did a good job of setting up the baselines of the historical traditions
in war fighting. That was invaluable to the course.”
the fact that Wiest was not a veteran was good in that it brought
an external viewpoint on the military. “Not everyone on the inside
(of the military) has an understanding of the historical concepts.
I thought he did a great job, especially for his first time here.”
This week, Wiest
will take part in the 53rd Annual National Security Forum being
held at the Air War College, presenting the topic “Searching for
Answers in the Past: The Failure of Nation Building in South Vietnam,”
a historical look at the successes and failures of America's efforts
to build a functional nation and military in south Vietnam and its
relevance to the United States’ present efforts in Iraq. The forums’
keynote presenter will be Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief
The forum is
the culmination of the students’ educational experience at the Air
War College, Wiest said.
“The Forum brings
in a number of widely known and respected speakers, whether they
be military officials or historians or political scientists,” he
said. “It’s kind of the capstone experience for the students, drawing
together everything they’ve learned through the academic year.”
For more information
on the forum, contact Wiest at 334.953.2938. For more information
on degree programs in the Southern Miss Department of History, call