Commander talks terrorism, geo-politics, encourages critical thinking during Rothbaum lecture
WILBURTON, OK (April 4, 2016) – With terrorism and national security taking center stage during the presidential campaign, March 30, the leader of McAlester Army Ammunition Plant encouraged Eastern Oklahoma State College students to be critical listeners and to make a difference in the world with their vote.
“You get a vote,” said Col. Sean M. Herron. “Democracy is very powerful and I want you to exercise your right as informed citizens. This is what our country is about: you getting a chance to cast your vote in an informed and intelligent manner that makes a difference in the world.”
Herron was invited to EOSC to speak as part of the Julian J. Rothbaum Lecture Series, which brings recognized authorities to the campus to address issues of public affairs at the national, state or local level.
Throughout the lecture, “Terrorism, Geo-Politics and National Security,” Herron repeatedly challenged the nearly 150 students, staff members and general public.
“It is important to understand the issues and not just the rhetoric and emotions that we hear on TV and from the pundits,” Herron said while introducing the topic.
Before continuing, Herron said he is politically agnostic, as are all serving members, which enable them to provide impartial military advice without being beholden to a particular political party or candidate.
Without delay, he asked who in the audience was afraid of terrorism. Several raised their hands.
“You should be concerned, but you should not be afraid,” he said. “That is a very big difference. So if you see something out of the ordinary, say something.”
He then posed a series of questions: What is the definition of terrorism? Where does it originate? Can a national leader be a terrorist? Is terrorism the new nature of war? What motivates terrorists? Is terrorism unfair?
“This is a very complex issue,” Herron said. “You should learn to think independently, critically and understand the issues. That is why you are here at Eastern.”
He told them terrorism is a tactic to get to a political end, but it’s ultimately about power.
While showing a map of the Middle East, Herron pointed out competing interests in the region and discussed the geo-political tensions that exist.
“These are a very complex set of relationships and you need to understand that,” he said.
Herron said the relationships must be taken into consideration when developing a national security strategy, which aligns what the U.S. intends to do with how it intends to do it, to achieve a desired outcome.
“So when you hear presidential candidates and others talk about what they are going to do, ask yourself, ‘how are they going to do it?’” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘is this the person who can make three branches of government work together enough to get it done?’”
In closing, Herron told the students they are powerful and can change the world with their vote, but they must first think through the problem to find a viable solution.
His message struck a chord with some in the audience.
“The lecture was eye-opening, very instructive and I hope my fellow students paid as close attention as I did and that they will really think about what Col. Herron had to say, and take that into consideration when viewing politics,” said Wyatt Stanford, a mass communications major who is planning to transfer the University of Oklahoma in the fall.
Eastern President Dr. Stephen E. Smith gathers with Col. Sean Herron and EOSC student Paige Campagna prior to the event. Campagna introduced Herron as the speaker for the college's 12th Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lectureship Series.
Story by Kevin B. Jackson, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is one of 14 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.