Students fire away with questions for military officials in Hempfield
Should the United States pull troops out of Iraq this summer• How long will the War on Terror last• Should gays and lesbians serve openly in the military?
Students from Hempfield Area, Burrell and Greater Latrobe high schools grilled a panel of high-ranking military officers on these and other issues Thursday as part of a program by the U.S. Army War College. The event, which took place at Hempfield Area High School, was sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit that promotes education about international issues throughout Western Pennsylvania.
The four officers, who are pursuing advanced degrees at the Army War College in Carlisle, gave brief talks on military intelligence, counterinsurgency, and fighting piracy off the Somali coast.
More than 600 students from the three high schools attended the program, said Hempfield Assistant Principal Aaron Steinly.
"Our history department spent some time in class talking about the War College so they could ask good questions," Steinly said.
Hempfield Area sophomore Brandon Cotter, 16, was curious about the Iraq War.
"I've never gotten a clear answer as to why we're there," Cotter said.
When it was his turn to ask a question, Cotter noted that the Iraq War was based on the erroneous belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He asked the officers why the United States was not planning to invade North Korea, which is known to have such weapons.
Intelligence experts do not believe North Korea poses a "clear and present danger," said Army Col. Steven Watt.
"Intelligence is not knowledge," Watt said. "Intelligence, at the end of the day, is your best guess."
Cotter was not entirely satisfied with the response.
"I think they kind of danced around it a little bit," he said later.
Valerie Price, 17, a Hempfield junior with plans to join the military after graduation, asked the officers why women are not allowed to serve in combat units or special forces.
"I've talked to all the branches," she said, "and they all say I'm not allowed to be in special forces. I'm not even allowed to be a sniper."
"That's a congressional mandate," replied Watt. "I, personally, do not agree with it."
"There's no environment in the military that will not be open to women in your lifetime," Navy Cmdr. Timothy Riegle told Price.
The officers, who are touring high schools and universities around the country with the War College's Eisenhower Series College Program, said they were impressed with the questions.
"We don't often get to interact at this level," Watt said, "so this is very refreshing. The depth of the knowledge these kids have is a good sign."
"It's tough for us to answer these questions in class when we ask them of each other," added Army Col. Burl Randolph Jr.
"I don't remember having that kind of depth of knowledge when I was in high school," said Riegle. "They're very engaged, and I think it's because they realize they're the ones who will have to deal with these issues."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- At 87, Rostraver man still entertaining polka fans
- 1 injured in Mt. Pleasant Twp. accident
- Expansion in works for Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum
- 2 suspects charged with second robbery in Hempfield
- New York fuel cell company to add another plant in Mt. Pleasant Township
- Former Pagans leader works out plea agreement
- 1 dead, 1 injured in Derry Twp. crash
- Machine operator avoids serious injuries in accident in North Huntingdon
- North Huntingdon man struck by car, killed near Yough High School
- Police: Penn Township man was ‘lonely,’ so he called 911
- Woman charged with assault spree in Jeannette