From the Foxhole: DMI sponsors Spring academic internship to Germany

By Department of Military Instruction

April 11th, 2019 | News, News and Features

The Department of Military Instruction sponsored 10 cadets as they traveled to Germany during their Spring Break. Led by Maj. Emmanuel Sioson and German liaison Sgt. Maj. Stephen Engel, these 10 cadets visited numerous sites that reflected what Germany was, what it is now and what the country will be.
While many Americans tend to associate Germany for the horrors of World War II, this trip challenged many of these underlying stigmas and provided cadets with a new lens with which to view their ally.
The purpose of this trip was to provide cadets with a broad survey of Germany’s previous strategic context and historical experience to better understand how such context and experiences shapes the current strategic outlook and worldview of the modern Federal Republic of Germany, its defense policies and its military.
Starting on March 8, the cadets traveled to the political concentration camp, Dachau, and learned of the atrocities that occurred during the second world war.
“Powerful” and “eye-opening” were some of the words used to describe the experience.
“When you are physically in the location you’ve already read about in history class, there is this new perspective that creates such a lasting effect,” Class of 2019 Cadet Paul Campuzano II said.
Later that day cadets visited Castle Neuschwanstein, erected in 1892 by King Ludwig II. This elegant castle was one of many examples in which Germans sought to preserve their culture in the most extravagant of ways.
The next day, led by Class of 2019 Cadet Brad Baker, the cadets ran through downtown Munich along the same route Hitler famously attempted his Beer Hall Putsch, a failed coup of the German government.
It was this failure that helped thrust Hitler in the national spotlight. Baker reflected on this stand as a “team building exercise during the run.”
Cadets also toured Walhalla Monument outside of Regensburg. While some Americans remember the site through the well-known photo of Gen. George Patton watching his 3rd Army cross the Danube River, the site is known to Germans as a commemoration of the greatest German minds to influence their country.
Class of 2021 Cadet Elias Mitchell pointed to Albert Einstein as one of such Germans who is forever immortalized in the walls of Walhalla. Class of 2019 Cadet Benjamin Gutierrez led a discussion at the Zeppelin Field in Nuremburg. It was here where Hitler held some of his Nazi rallies.
Gutierrez spoke of the “power of imagery” and the influence propaganda can have on people. While the swastika was blown up after the war, the foundation remains as a stark reminder of the past.
Class of 2021 Cadet Kevin Brazie led a discussion at the Sanssouci Palace and spoke of the Prussian and Bavarian influence in the area. This stand provided a different perspective to the German identity; one of elegance, royalty and greatness.
Cadets also had the opportunity to tour the German Combat Training Center, a parallel to the U.S. National Training Center. They were exposed to advanced simulation technology and foreign doctrine. They were prompted with challenges they might face as future platoon leaders in urban warfare.
After the visiting the CTC, the cadets met with their German counterparts and learned about the processes they undergo as they work toward becoming German officers.
Cadets finished the day with a historical tour of Dresden where they appreciated the centuries of German art and elegance in the palaces and murals.
The Cadets completed their week in Berlin where they visited the Allied War Museum with a discussion led by Class of 2019 Cadet Stephen Jackson. He pointed to the museum as one of the many ways that Germany remembers World War II and how far they have come as a nation.
The Brandenburg Gate, Check Point Charlie, the Statsi HQ and prison were next on the list and each played a significant role in post-war Germany.
“Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of royalty, was tainted by the Nazis,” briefed Class of 2021 Cadet Karen Kim. Class of 2021 Cadet Shannon Villarino spoke of how Checkpoint Charlie, the only access point between East and West Berlin, highlighted the fragility of Germany as it was caught in between the friction of the United States and Soviet Union.
Class of 2019 Cadet Courtney Hill talked of the Stasi HQ and prison as a remnant of the paranoia as Germany tried to brand themselves a new identity between communism and democracy.
The last location on the cadets’ trip was a tour of the German Reichstag. They learned of democracy from an entirely different perspective. The tour was fundamental for the future leaders of America who will be entering an everchanging, geo-political environment.
The cadets also spoke with representatives of the U.S. Embassy and discussed the political challenges the country faces as they interact with their German counterparts.
Led by Sioson and Engel, these 10 cadets experienced Germany for what it was, what it is and what it will be.
Much appreciation on behalf of the cadets goes to the Department of Military Instruction for sponsoring this trip.