UNG Cadets Meet With Military International Relations Experts


Photo by Emili Sabanovic

On Feb. 16, a luncheon and panel discussion on “Navigating ‘Gray Zone’ Competition and Conflict” took place at Piedmont Driving Club, Atlanta. The conference was organized by the Atlanta Council on International Relations. ACIR is a non-profit educational organization that promotes a better understanding of international affairs through the exchange of ideas by public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures and other similar programs.

The keynote speaker of the event, Col. Leon Perkowski, Ph.D., is the Vice Commandant of Air University’s Air Command and Staff College and an Assistant Professor of Military and Security Studies. Dr. Perkowski has served in various assignments supporting Air Force and Army operations and is now teaching college students in the specialty of the politics and discourse of U.S. troop reductions in South Korea in the 1970s and the concept of deterrence credibility in the late Cold War.

Photo by Emili Sabanovic

At the beginning of the conference, Dr. Perkowski introduced three military experts to discuss the gray zone between completion and open warfare. One by one, Col. Jason Groat from the Australian Army, Mr. Mike from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Lt. Col. Pat Walsh from the US Army Reserve went up to the podium and gave their presentations.

Members of ACIR, members of the Consular Corps, institutional faculty and staff from Georgia Tech and the University of North Georgia were in attendance. Four cadets from UNG, including one American cadet, one Taiwanese cadet and two South Korean cadets were also at the conference, having their first experience of interacting with experts.

Photo by Yujin Kim

Donghyun Jeon, a South Korean exchange cadet from Korea Military Academy, was new to this type of luncheon. Jeon said he was very excited to participate as a guest being served fancy food and have the opportunity to talk to world-class experts. He added, “I learned a lot about the importance of soft power to enhance a country’s national security. I also felt that the Korean military should also make an effort to understand the concept of the gray zone itself and also realize the gray zone warfare going on in international society.”

Hyunbean Park, an American cadet from UNG, found it interesting that one of the panels talked about the “cyber gray zone and the threats of cyber affairs from China.” He said, “I learned the importance of the correlation between countries and exchanging ideas between the allies.” Park believes that it is critical to look for ways to prevent future cyber attacks from our adversaries, such as China. He added, “As for my future military career, I hope I can get into a command that deals with cyber attacks or the future expansion of China and Russia.”

Terry Baumann, a retired Army Sgt. Maj. who is currently serving as the International and Military Program Coordinator for the Center of Global Engagement at UNG, also commented on the event. “I hope there will be further opportunities like this for the cadets that can participate in the high-level discussion and interact with others with similar interests. These conferences can stimulate interest in and knowledge of international relations, world affairs and foreign policies among the cadets, who will become the future leaders of the community.