Good afternoon! 

So I don't know about you, but now that we're a little more than halfway through this strange, Zoom-centric semester, the last thing I want is to sign up for another Zoom event. 

Which makes it admittedly ironic that I'm writing to pitch another Zoom event (what can I say - I'm in academia, not marketing)

But wait - hear me out. Because this Zoom event is different. Yes, it still involves Zoom. But not in the usual way.  No pretending to have fun while drinking alone with a bunch of floating heads you barely know. No listening to a panel of floating heads while you wait with baited breath to see if the question you frantically typed into the chat box gets asked. No debating Clausewitz for the 30th time this semester with your classmates' floating heads.

Instead, I want to invite you to... wait for it... plan a military operation (with your classmates' floating heads). That's right - I'm cordially inviting you to RSVP for the Center for Security Policy Studies' first ever virtual staff ride on October 31st, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm; and on November 1st from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.
Mind you, this is not our first ever staff ride. We've been taking students to Gettysburg and Antietam for years. And we're pretty good at it! The difference is that thanks to COVID, we're going replicate the experience on Zoom this time around. And instead of taking a bus to Pennsylvania or Maryland, we're going to take a little Zoom trip to Vietnam circa 1969.

(A little background for those of you who have made it this far, but are still wondering what the heck a staff ride is: Back in ye olde times when Prussia was still a country, Prussian commanders would take their officers--hence staff--to visit battlefields on their horses--hence ride. Except these weren't tours in any traditional sense. Instead of simply rehashing what happened, the officers would "pretend"--but in a cool way--to be commanders during the battle and would take turns defending and/or debating the decisions that were made. These sorts of events are still a centerpiece in American professional military education today. They are a superb way to think about the complex links between tactics, operations, strategy, and politics.)

For our virtual staff ride on October 31st and November 1st, we're going to give you the chance to "role play" (again, in a cool way) a team of American military planners on the eve of the (in)famous Battle of Hamburger Hill. This event should be of particular interest to I-SEC students who want to learn more about military history, combat operations, and defense policy. 

There are no prerequisites to participate (other than interest and being a Schar School graduate student). There is no cost (other than a few hours of your time on Zoom. Besides, what else are you going to do? Trick or treat at 11 am?) And most important of all: you don't have to do a single page of reading or advance prep (this staff ride is the epitome of "plug and play.")

I'm attaching an info flyer to this email. You can RSVP here (the cyber-paranoid can cut and paste this link: Please send any questions you might have to Saffanah, our staff ride team leader, at [log in to unmask]

I hope to "see" you there!



Michael Hunzeker, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Associate Director, Center for Security Policy Studies
Schar School of Policy and Government
George Mason University

Twitter: @michaelhunzeker
Email:  [log in to unmask]