KUWAIT CITY – Among a crowd of foreign military personnel wearing a multitude of different hats and uniforms, one U.S. Army officer, Maj. Robert Bonham, graduated from the Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College here yesterday.
U.S. Army Maj. Robert Bonham receives his master's degree in military science from Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah after completing the advance staff college course at the Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College in Kuwait City, June 17, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy R. Myers (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Bonham, a native of Shalersville, Ohio, participated in the U.S. Army's Schools of Other Nations program to further his career.
As a graduate of the Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Command and Staff College, he has earned a master's degree in military science.
The Schools of Other Nations program aims to develop closer relationships between the U.S. and foreign armies. Bonham said he is grateful for the knowledge and kinship he took away from his educational experience.
"Having the chance to attend the Kuwait army staff college through the Schools of Other Nations [program] was a rewarding experience personally and professionally," he said. "I've developed lasting relationships with officers from across the globe. I have learned a great deal about how their militaries function and integrate nationally as members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and International Coalition."
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman -- was established in 1981 to achieve unity among its members based on their common objectives and their similar political and cultural identities.
"The most unique facet of the course was the joint, multinational aspect," Bonham said. "The majority of students were Kuwait officers from the Kuwait armed forces and Ministry of Interior, while the remaining students were from all military branches of Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan and GCC countries."
The 10-month graduate-level course trains field-grade officers to perform as a member of a joint, multinational headquarters.
U.S. Army majors are required to complete intermediate level education as part of their professional military education, Bonham noted. "I saw this as a means to complete my ILE, broaden myself and represent the Army," he said. "This opportunity became available, and I took it."
Bonham said he received an educational experience that reached beyond the boundaries of a classroom. "As part of our regional studies, we traveled to Jordan and were able to visit their staff college and training facilities," he said. The experience also came with many challenges, he added.
"Being the only American in the course, there were times when I found myself being asked what the U.S. position was on an issue and why our government was following one course of action over another," Bonham said. "I realized that I am not just here as an Army officer, but I am also an ambassador for the citizens of the United States."
Bonham said he plans to keep working to advance his career as a military police field-grade officer. He will complete the next phase of his professional development at Fort Hood, Texas, were he is projected to hold a key developmental position at the 11th Military Police Battalion as the officer in charge of operations, he said.