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San Remo 2018

1/c Dustin Smith, 1/c Michael Compton, 1/c Daniel Houle, 1/c Adam Peterson, 1/c Kira Dabrowski, 1/c Caleigh Cobb

Written by 1/c Dustin Smith
April 6, 2018

San Remo Conference 2018The San Remo conference on the Law of Armed Conflict was, without a doubt, one of the most enlightening experiences I have had at my time at the Coast Guard Academy. It was everything the title seems to indicate, many sessions of debate and discussion on the rules of international conflict, decision driven scenarios designed to expand the mind, but it was also so much more. This opportunity was culture rich and international relations minded from the beginning. As a member of the Government Major within the Department of Humanities at the CGA, I expected grueling, but not unenjoyable, hours of analyzing international treaties and customary law, what I never saw coming was just how great the diversity of opinion and background would be. There were students from Malaysia and Indonesia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Nigeria, many major European nations, and most major military schools in the United States. We began with the culture night where everyone exhibited the pride and uniqueness of their country (we focused on our Hershey’s chocolate and Coca-Cola). This concept of bringing everyone together was personified in the award known as the Spirit of San Remo, a goal pretty much everyone strove for. This attitude directly flowed into the classroom where, regardless of heated debate and sometimes vast difference of opinion, respect and dignity was always maintained.

The style of the competition was laid out into teams of mixed nationality. Personally, I was joined by a member of the Swiss Military Academy and the Italian Military. It became apparent fairly soon that my knowledge of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) was much stronger in the areas of the sea than the tactics of land or air warfare, with the reverse being true for them. This allowed us to work with each other and build off of our strengths. Ultimately we taught each other more than I would have thought possible in four days of conference. This proved true for all members of the team, with two of our shipmates, 1/c Compton and 1/c Peterson walking away with team awards!

The United States Coast Guard Academy has provided many moments of leadership, growth, education and development throughout my four years here, but I have to say this one took the cake. The quality of the experience was second to none, with the food, people, and spirit of San Remo working in conjunction to guarantee that I would so vehemently endorse this trip to all those who would consider it in the future, and thank those who made it possible.