Doctorate students attending the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a two-day visit to Fort Bragg, March 25 and 26, visiting the three major commands on post.

During their visit to the U.S. Army Forces Command, XVIII Airborne Corps and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, students were briefed by subject matter experts on the Army’s current challenges and roles in providing global combatant commanders with request for forces.

Among the students were faculty members Dr. Barry R. Posen, director of the MIT Security Studies Program, Dr. Cindy Williams, principal research scientist of the MIT SSP, and four military fellows: Col. Kirk Dorr, Army War College, SSP; Col. David Pendall, Army War College, SSP; Col. John Christopher, Marine Corps; and Lt. Col. Stephen Russell, U.S. Air Force.

The purpose of the visit was to provide MIT Security Studies Program doctorate candidates with an appreciation of joint military organizations and their contribution to national security. Once the students graduate from the SSP, many go on to work in national security policy forums, think tanks, the Office of Secretary of Defense and other national security related agencies.

The students are also provided the opportunity to have the expertise of military fellows who accompany them through a 10-month cycle at MIT.

“We are exposed to some of the greatest minds in the country,” said Dorr. “Some of the students and faculty in the Ph.D.

The XVIII Abn. Corps let students explore the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, designed to help protect Soldiers during improvised explosives device attacks and ambushes.

“I was working on a project involving the MRAP but had never seen one in person,” said Lena Andrews, a Ph.D. student in international relations and security studies.

The virtual combat convoy Trainer also gave the students hands-on experience of what it feels like in a combat environment. Some of the students drove the virtual humvees while their counterparts experienced shooting a virtual 50-caliber machine gun.

“For our students, the opportunity was phenomenal,” said Williams. “Fifty percent of our students never set foot on a military base. They got the opportunity to use equipment they might go an entire academic career without touching and see what Soldiers do without the danger.”