An Indian army officer has described as an 'exceptional experience' his graduate degree-level training course at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College in the United States.
Apart from the training, he said he benefited from the interactions he had with the Americans.
Lt Col Manjit Singh told USINFO after seven months of his year-long course that while he would rate his experience at the college as 'exceptional,' equally important was his social involvement with Americans who, he said, invited him to their home and enabled him to see that 'value we hold dear in India, like family, are also embedded in the American culture.'
The Marine Corps University student body comprises 3,500 officers, civilians and non-commissioned officers attending four professional schools and colleges as well as a number of NCO academies worldwide. The Quantico campus is home to 480 resident students, including 50 foreign military officers from 30 nations.
"As an Indian and Sikh, I am an individual from a different culture who has come here not only to study but live with Americans. I have seen how they live and view the world, and this has also affected me," Singh said.
"What I appreciate about the Command and Staff College is that it includes international officers like me. This is important because we are imbibing the same democratic values and professional lessons as the American officers. We are not treated like outsiders but partners in the same mission of providing security and stability in our regions," he added.
Case studies in the classroom of military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other conflicts, are 'approached in a very broad-base, holistic manner and not in the myopic, one-sided way the press usually presents them,' Singh said.
This is important, he explained: "We see the American officers studying these campaigns, in which non-brute force elements like civil/military relations and humanitarian operations are given top priorities and we see that the portrayal of US forces, by the press and others, as aggressor or occupiers is not accurate."
In the Marine University's Command and Staff College class of 2006-2007, twenty-six of the 196 military students are from foreign nations, including India, Bahrain, Mexico and the Philippines.In addition to offering a master's degree in military studies, the university has a foreign language programme for the current academic year that includes modern standard Arabic and sub-Saharan African French, according to the university catalogue.