Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Strategic Studies Dramatis Personnae

Normally a larger group, this year's intake consists of thirteen students from seven countries. In this first semester, we're taught by two Scottish instructors.

  • The Director: I began corresponding with The Director back in August of 2010, and have been in touch with him every few months since then. The man knows strategy, the man knows history, and he's just an overall outstanding guy. His enthusiasm and expertise are central to the strength of the program, and I'm thrilled to be studying under his expert guidance.
  • E: E is a PhD and intelligence enthusiast. His research expertise is in microstates and intelligence, and he teaches security and intelligence courses to third year undergraduates. This is the first year he's teaching a postgraduate class in Strategic Studies. One of the hallmarks of E's lectures is his ability to illustrate concepts with entertaining anecdotes from the history of intelligence operations - the current class favorite being the story of the missing Soviet suitcase nukes. E is also a fan of Rangers F.C., and thinks that cricket isn't a sport, but rather, "dancing". His unhealthy obsession with Iceland is akin to my unhealthy obsessions with Orkney and Oman, so I'm not in a position to be judgmental.

    This year's program has fewer students than usual. Most students are involved in the MSc in Strategic Studies, with a minority involved in the MSC in Strategic Studies - International Law (SS-IL). There are nine of us in the former program, and four in the latter, and the courses overlap by one course this semester (Strategic Theory), and several elective courses next semester.

  • CN Warden: Warden is from near Newcastle, in Northern England. He did his undergraduate studies at Aberdeen, so beyond benefiting from his general friendly demeanor, I've also benefited from his knowledge of the area.
  • CN GBU-16: GBU-16 is Italian, and an SS-IL student who also completed undergraduate study at Aberdeen.
  • CN Homeboy: Homeboy is an Aberdonian, born, raised, and educated. He's keenly interested in politics, a staunch Scottish nationalist, and extremely critical of Red Clydeside.
  • CN Ness: Reminiscent of one of the best sketches in SNL history, Ness isn't actually from Inverness, but he's from near Inverness. Like Homeboy, he's also keenly interested in politics.
  • CN Odin: Odin is Norwegian, the oldest student in the class, and the only member other than me with any overseas/topical experience. His major interests are intelligence and counterinsurgency.
  • CN Black Sheep: Black Sheep is from a small town on England's east coast, in the area "that looks like a face". He's also keenly interested in politics, both domestic and international. He's quite fond of spending time alone.
  • CN Sister: Sister is the only other American in the program, so we seem to get on well. She's interested in the Middle East, comfortable in extremely cold weather, apparently good with horses, and drives the largest vehicle of anyone in the program (when she's not driving the Model A she restored herself). Sister also completed her undergraduate studies at Aberdeen.
  • CN Slapshot: Slapshot is Canadian, and enjoys alcohol and travel. He has some experience working in Canada's diplomatic corps, which allowed him to attend some events in Washington, DC.
  • CN Templar: Templar is from Tanzania, and is so named for his fascination with the Knights Templar, the Roman Catholic Church, and the concept of the Roman Catholic Church as the earliest and most widespread intelligence apparatus in the world. Behind his back, Templar is universally lauded for bringing an extra-Eurocentric viewpoint to the class, which we all find extremely valuable.
  • CN Vlad: Vlad is Romanian, and an SS-IL student. He told me himself that he's "from Transylvania, where Dracula is from". He completed his undergraduate studies at Aberdeen, and based on my limited experience, he's very Romanian. He's also never met a pint he didn't like!
  • CN Chatti: Chatti is half Irish and half German, and one of the SS-IL folks. He and I have had a couple of excellent, cordial disagreemnts in class, and we non-SS-IL types have been pleased to have him participate as a member of our social group.

    There's one other guy from the SS-IL program, but none of us have really had much exposure to him for one reason or another, so he doesn't have a code name and isn't really worthy of mention yet. In the event that I get to know him a bit better, I'll write more about him.

    Overall, it's a very cordial group, we all seem to get on very well, and I'm thrilled at the opportunity to study and socialize with them.
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