This past Thursday, April 24, the LBJ School of Public Affairs hosted a brown bag talk by Major Pat Michaelis, Operations Officer, 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), Major Robin Montgomery, Plans Officer, 1 BCT and Major Luke Calhoun, Intelligence Officer, 1 BCT on their experiences in Iraq. All of the soldiers are currently stationed at Fort Hood and will be going back to Iraq near the end of this year. During the talk, I asked Major Michaelis to what degree actors outside of Iraq affect what happens in Iraq and the efforts of the US Army to bring security and foster economic development. He replied that outside actors were playing a large, mostly negative, role and that the US government should use diplomatic and economic pressure on governments in the region to help the Army do its job in Iraq. My next question was how much influence the US government has in the region when our President is traveling to countries like Saudi Arabia to beg for increased oil production. Major Michaelis agreed that our position in the region would be stronger if we were not so dependent on foreign oil and he specifically stated that CAFE standards should have been raised back in 2001. Drawing a link between US energy use and the actions of foreign actors in Iraq is difficult and non linear but I believe there is a connection and one way to increase our security is to simply use less oil. I wish Vice President Cheney, union autoworkers officials and Detroit automotive executives had the same perspective.
I would specifically like to thank Majors Michaelis, Montgomery and Calhoun for coming to speak with us and their service to our nation.