An inside look at how Washington works

May 14, 2013 | Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer

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Seventeen graduating cadets from the Furman Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) got an inside view of the workings of Washington, D.C., during a special trip April 7-10 hosted by former Furman ROTC instructor and retired Army Captain Mike Pasquarett.

Twelve cadets from Furman, joined by five from North Greenville University (whose program is affiliated with Furman), visited the Pentagon, the Brookings Institution and Capitol Hill, where they learned about the policies and procedures of the national security community at the highest levels. The trip, the first of its kind, was funded by Pasquarett and Bill Mayville ’76.

The idea for the trip, called “How Washington Works,” came from a course Pasquarett taught at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., to lieutenant colonels and colonels, in which he explained how national security strategy is developed and how Pentagon leaders turn the strategy into international military cooperation and engagements. “The overwhelming response from these senior leaders was, ‘I wish I learned this earlier in my career’,” Pasquarett said.

He didn’t want Furman cadets to have to wait. “You need to know the players. You need to know the process,” said Pasquarett, who began planning the program during a meeting last year with Mayville, one of his former ROTC students.

Pasquarett, an assistant professor of military science at Furman from 1975 to 1978, came to campus in March to teach the first part of “How Washington Works.” He drew from his three decades in the U.S. military and his 12 years as a teacher at the Army War College. The mini-course at Furman covered defense policy and strategy, national security organization from platoon leaders to the President, the influence of the Washington think tank community, and Defense Department interactions with Congress.

While in Washington the students were able to experience the system up close and personal. The cadets, joined by Lieutenant Colonel Tom Gilleran and Master Sergeant Luis Fragoso of the university’s Department of Military Science, also rubbed shoulders with Furman alumni serving in important positions in the federal government. They visited the Deputy of Program Analysis and Evaluation, Brigadier General James Pasquarette ’83; Colonel John Fant ’86, Chief of the Readiness Division within the Joint Staff; and Lieutenant Colonel Rogers Stinson ’94, executive assistant within the Joint Staff.

“Being able to meet high ranking officers and hear about how policy is formed at the Pentagon reinforced the understanding that the military is the servant of the nation,” said Daniel Myles. “We serve the people, not the other way around.”

“I found the tour of the Pentagon to be a uniquely educational opportunity that revealed a new dimension to the policy and national security process,” said Emily Reilly, who was an intern with the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute during the spring semester. “The whole schedule was full of enriching knowledge that will aid each of us as we leave ROTC to become Army leaders.”

In addition to Myles and Reilly, the Furman participants were Brad Conway, Wilson Duty, Justin Gray, Connor Halliday, Tim Harter, Kevin Holliday, Justin Linville, Emily McComb, Alex Moore and Josh Tadlock. North Greenville was represented by Andrew Brogdon, Arthur Hampton, Brian Hancock, Brad Stickley and Charlie Wilson. All were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during a ceremony at Furman May 3.