I recently arrived in the Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs as the twenty-first Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow for Humanitarian Demining. The fellowship was created in 1999 to honor the legacies of Ambassador Robert C. Frasure, Dr. Joseph J. Kruzel, and U.S. Air Force Colonel Samuel Nelson Drew, who lost their lives in 1995 while working to help end conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. These men were part of a mission to negotiate peace in a war-torn region, yet their story, as with the recent events in Libya, reminds us of the risks that U.S. diplomatic and military personnel take every day to promote peace and security around the world.
The fellowship, which promotes awareness and action to address ongoing security and humanitarian challenges from landmines and explosive remnants of war in post-conflict countries, is a one-year position with the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA). This office leads U.S. Government efforts to save lives and support post-conflict recovery and development by safely clearing landmines and unexploded munitions, as well as by reducing inventories of surplus, loosely-secured, or otherwise at-risk arms and munitions. The United States is the world's single largest financial supporter of such efforts, spending over $2 billion in over 90 countries since 1993.
Administered by the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the fellowship is awarded each year to an outstanding JMU student or recent graduate. Since the inception, 20 individuals have completed the fellowship. Fellows assist with program management for a particular region and perform outreach activities to help inform the public about the work that PM/WRA does around the world.
At an August 29 ceremony honoring the legacy of Ambassador Frasure, Dr. Kruzel, and Colonel Drew, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro stressed the value of the fellowship and the varied roles in which former fellows now serve. A number of former fellows have continued to work in the field of humanitarian mine action at the State Department or for various non-governmental organizations such as the Marshall Legacy Institute, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and the HALO Trust. Speaking on behalf of the families, Sandra Drew noted that in addition to their extensive humanitarian and governmental service, each of the men who lost their lives had greatly valued education and teaching. The Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Fellowship was therefore a fitting way to honor their memory.
Dr. Ken Rutherford, CISR Director and landmine survivor, highlighted the importance of the fellowship to furthering the cause of humanitarian mine action, as well as providing an exceptional opportunity for students. The twentieth and outgoing fellow, Katherine Smith, described her recent experience as the Assistant Program Manager for PM/WRA's Africa portfolio. Looking back on her program assessment visits to South Sudan and Mozambique, Katherine expressed how significant it was to see firsthand the United States' commitment to assisting those affected by landmines and unexploded munitions.
Walter Givhan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, and Jim Lawrence, Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, presented each of the family members with a framed certificate signed by all of the current and former fellows in attendance.
The reception was a moving event. As the twenty-first incoming fellow, I was especially honored to meet the family members of the three men in whose memory this fellowship exists. It was evident that they are very supportive of the fellowship and the work that PM/WRA does to increase safety and security for people around the world. I also enjoyed talking with former fellows as they reminisced about their time as a Frasure-Kruzel-Drew fellow. Each credited the fellowship for their current success. Their top advice: it goes by fast, so make the most of it.
I look forward to serving as a fellow in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and am proud to have this opportunity to both learn and serve at the U.S. Department of State.