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Aug. 26, 2011
Media coverage about the sustainment operation in Iraq was extensive, and Northwest Associate Professor Dr. Mark Corson was interviewed often. Here is a sampling of some of that coverage.
With classes resuming for the fall trimester at Northwest Missouri State University one faculty member has returned to the classroom with a world of new experiences to share with his students.
Dr. Mark Corson, associate professor of geosciences, is back at Northwest this fall after a 15-month deployment that took him to Iraq for nine months as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve's 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. As part of "Operation Responsible Drawdown," Corson was charged with overseeing the effort to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq from 130,000 to 50,000 by Sept. 1, 2010.
Corson's unit was responsible for coordinating all sustainment operations in Iraq, which meant providing transportation, maintenance, supplies and services. It was a task Corson often compared to moving the entire city of St. Joseph halfway around the world, and the command completed the mission 10 days ahead of the federal government's deadline.
"We are very proud of that," Corson said. "We had 50,000 troops and about 65,000 contractors left after that. The mission was to sustain the force, and U.S. Forces Iraq was the best sustained, transported, fuel-fed, armed, maintained force anybody's ever seen. I thought that was a great success."
As one of the five major commanders overseeing the mission, Corson had a bird's eye view of U.S. forces in Iraq. He saw firsthand the capabilities and limitations of military power, and how interagency processes play into the effort.
The mission wasn't without danger, however. In March, a member of the sustainment command, Sgt. Brandon S. Hocking, of Seattle, Wash, was killed by an improvised explosive device. Two contractors also died. Corson himself experienced many close calls, but he remains steadfastly proud of the U.S. Military's accomplishments in Iraq.
The deployment was Corson's third and his second to Iraq.
"I risked my life on both deployments, having been shot at directly and indirectly repeatedly, and I think that I'll be able to tell my grandchildren that I'm proud that I did a good thing," he said. "We ridded that country of an evil dictator. We gave the Iraqi people the opportunity to have free and fair elections, which they have done repeatedly. And for all the dysfunction and problems with the Iraqi government they are in fact a democratically elected government who are not a threat to their neighbors and who are committed to improving the lot of their people."
This fall, Corson resumes teaching four courses he's traditionally taught at Northwest - introduction to geography, principles of humanitarian aid, military geography and geographic foundations of geospatial intelligence, which is a course in Northwest's online master's of geographic information science program.
"I'm really excited to get back to my students and my classes," Corson said. "I'm still going to teach all of my four courses for the trimester because I didn't want to let any students down who are looking forward to taking those. I'm excited to get back to them and they will be new, updated and very high quality."
Additionally, Corson is serving as interim chair of the Department of Biology.
"I'm really happy to have the opportunity to use some of the leadership and management lessons that I've gleaned from my experience to make a contribution to the biology department and to the University," he said.
Throughout his deployment, Corson was comforted by the support he received from his Northwest family. At the University's 2010 fall all-employee meeting, Corson appeared via satellite, fielding questions about his deployment from Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski. At this year's all-employee meeting, Corson was happy to speak to the Northwest family in person.
During the meeting, in appreciation of Northwest's support during his deployment, Corson presented Jasinski and the University with an American flag that flew Sept. 11, 2010, over Joint Base Balad.
"The consistent outpouring of support of the administration and my colleagues, from the president on down, I think it goes beyond straight-up patriotism," Corson said. "I never felt like I had to worry about my job or not being valued when I returned. Northwest is a great place to be."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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