ISU students take trip to learn about security

Jessica Buss

ISU students attended their first Deterrence and Assurance Workshop and Conference in Omaha, Neb.

United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) sponsors and hosts this workshop and conference yearly on the Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. This year’s event took place March 3 and 4. 

The USSTRATCOM is one of nine Unified Combatant Commands of the U.S. Department of Defense. Its duties include knowledge of space operations, information operations, missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, electronic warfare, cyberspace and strategic deterrence.

Understanding the specific threats around the world and the right actions to take against those threats is the purpose of the USSTRATCOM. In simpler terms, it is the eyes and ears of the nation.

Iowa State and USSTRATCOM have created an academic alliance, teaching political science students the ins and outs of security, including cyber security, deterrence and assurance and artificial intelligence.

The Deterrence and Assurance Workshop took place on the Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. This workshop provided programs with hands-on experience working against certain threats.

These threats can include identity theft, hacking attacks, strikes against the government or weapons of mass destruction. The students had to develop ways of approaching the problem.

Ellen Pirro, lecturer in political science, led the 10 undergrad and graduate students alongside Chuck Hagel, former U.S. Secretary of Defense.

“It was a wonderful learning experience for us all,” Pirro said.

Both of their days involved helping students fulfill their passions and curiosities.

“They did a very good job of organizing,” said Jason Johnson, graduate assistant in political science and attendee of the conference.

There were various programs to take part of, including a presentation and questionnaire, adversary perceptions and case studies and a war game.

These events were simulated exercises aimed at deterrence strategies, which are also known as “tabletop” exercises. Organization played a big role in such a busy event.

Johnson’s favorite event was the war game. In this event, Johnson was randomly selected with a team to work with. The team and Johnson worked together to solve and plan through a real-life situation and problem our world might face.