Center for International Stabilization & Recovery

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Posts tagged "geary cox"
Where in the world is your JACard? 
JMU alumni Katie Stolp (‘13) and Geary Cox (‘06, ‘08M) at the United Nations in New York. The pair represented the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) at multilateral talks on securing weapons in northern Africa. Stolp is serving as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow for Humanitarian Demining at PM/WRA; Cox is Program Manager for conventional weapons-destruction programs in Near East Asia.

Where in the world is your JACard? 


JMU alumni Katie Stolp (‘13) and Geary Cox (‘06, ‘08M) at the United Nations in New York. The pair represented the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) at multilateral talks on securing weapons in northern Africa. Stolp is serving as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow for Humanitarian Demining at PM/WRA; Cox is Program Manager for conventional weapons-destruction programs in Near East Asia.

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Listen to CISR’S Geary Cox discuss the importance of the annual Senior Managers’ Course at JMU in the Shenandoah Valley on Harrisonburg’s local radio station.

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Geary Cox II (’06, ’08M, ’15P) is project manager and program coordinator at CISR. He joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant to the Journal of ERW and Mine Action in March 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, both from James Madison University. He is pursuing his doctorate in nonprofit leadership at JMU’s School of Strategic Leadership.

Walking into the UXO destruction site. SIMAS Director Jonas Anuar and JMU HD Fellow Katie Smith walking last. SIMAS field visit, Part 2… Wherein Katie blows things up

Our trip to the mine field [view previous post] was just the beginning of our field visit on Friday. We make a quick stop at a mechanical demining site along the banks of the Nile. Until recently, SIMAS lacked sufficient resources to outfit and maintain a mechanical demining team. The equipment allows them to clear land more rapidly and will be a critical component in clearing dangerous areas before the rainy season suspends operations.

We travel 2 kilometers southeast to the roadside control point for the unexploded-ordnance detonation site. Although deminers must blow up mines and UXO  sometimes in situ (in place), they greatly prefer moving the weapons off-site for a controlled detonation.

Eight mortar shells are partially buried in a pit and covered by sandbags. In a pit, set back safely from the road, the UXO team  placed sandbags over eight mortars and primed them with explosives. Zlatko handled weapons destruction in the aftermath of the Bosnian war. Every second day, the teams would have collected more than two tons of explosives. Our task would be significantly smaller: 25 kilograms in eight mortars.

Then the fun began: The field supervisor unwound det cord and set the charge. Our group took cover behind a small hut constructed with tree limbs and sandbags. Tradition holds that the sitting HD Fellow usually gets the honor of setting off the demo, so Katie got some quick instructions and the countdown began. Five… four… two… one… the field supervisor counted down into his walkie talkie, the numbers echoing out of everyone’s radios behind the hut. Zero… fire…

SIMAS field supervisor prepping the detonation. BOOM. Katie screamed and then giggled. The rest of us laughed as debris, carried by the explosion and wind, fell nearby. Just like that, we were finished.

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SIMAS is an amazing success story in a landscape of frustrated efforts. The first nongovernmental organization in South Sudan to receive international accreditation for its demining teams, SIMAS receives funding and support from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), the United Nations and other organizations. It partners with UNICEF to deliver mine-risk education and can conduct manual and mechanical clearance as well as UXO spot clearance.

I have a keen interest in resource development for indigenous NGOs, so our conversation back at SIMAS headquarters during lunch and after was fascinating. The organization has an engaged and well respected board that has helped SIMAS establish strategic objectives. Jonas, the director, said that they are constantly asking, “If international organizations withdraw, where are we going to be?”

CISR Project Manager Geary Cox ('06, '08M, '15P) with JMU HD Fellow Katie Smith ('09) and PM/WRA Program Manager Emma Smith Atkinson ('09) at entry point for UXO storage and destruction area. To help plan for this, SIMAS develops its teams leaders and office personnel. Should funding become available, SIMAS deminers are accredited to high enough levels that operations can rapidly expand. The organization has also received superlative remarks on all three of its independent audits, building confidence for donor countries and organizations.

Plans are also in the works to build a sustainable infrastructure into the HQ compound. Solar panels on an accommodation building and other improvements could mean SIMAS no longer has to buy fuel to run generators and other equipment, and the accommodation block would reduce costs and increase income.

SIMAS team with visitors from JMU and Dept of State. Director Jonas Anuar standing far right. FSD Technical Advisor Zlatko Gegic stands fourth from left. I will return to CISR and JMU with a head full of ideas on possible collaboration with this amazing organization. As a student of NGOs, I am perhaps most excited about what more I can learn from Jonas and his team.

It is Saturday evening as I write in Juba, and a number of soccer (yes, soccer—they have not won me over to football just yet) matches are on the hotel bar’s TVs. We have a BBQ scheduled at Embassy-Juba later tonight before heading to field sites in Yei tomorrow morning. I will update as I can.

Happy trails,

Geary

Geary Cox II (’06, ’08M, ’15P) is project manager and program coordinator at CISR. He joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant to the Journal of ERW and Mine Action in March 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, both from James Madison University. He is pursuing his doctorate in nonprofit leadership at JMU’s School of Strategic Leadership.

CISR in Sudan 2012: Step 1—Decide on Step 1


Everywhere you look in Juba, something is under construction. Driving in from the airport this afternoon, buildings stood (or not) in such various states of construction that it was impossible to tell what was going up and what was coming down. 

This sense of perpetual transition suffuses everything. Even at dinner, when a technical adviser from the German military spoke with Emma, Katie and I about disarmament and security-sector reform, there were serious questions about prioritizing activities. If you knew that weapons stockpiles needed better security and that community-disarmament efforts still bring in huge amounts of uncontrolled weapons, which would you pursue: a few large-scale projects to build armories or many small-scale improvements (fences, locks, inventories) of existing facilities? And what about training of staff? And the development of standard operating procedures? And coordination between government departments and agencies?

Difficult decisions were raised, and everyone we met in our few hours on the ground was focused on one thing: helping the South Sudanese people make the best decisions for themselves under a short timeline. Even the advisers and nongovernmental-organization workers are in a state of perpetual transition. The longest billet I have heard of thus far is 17 weeks, which, when you think about it, is not that long at all to rotate in, conduct assessments and advisements, and rotate out. Most people are working on more limited time. 

Our meetings start in earnest tomorrow, which will be a great opportunity given our short time here, too. There was only one snafu in the whole 27-hour adventure to get here: We arrived, but our luggage didn’t. No matter. As you can see from the picture of our walk back to U.S. Embassy-Juba, Emma and Katie are carefree. 

Happy trails,
Geary

P.S.: One of the things we did during check-in was pick call names for Emma (Duke Dog) and Katie (Dolley). I did not get one, but there is still time before we head to the field. Make your suggestions on the Facebook page, and we’ll see what works out. 

CISR in Sudan 2012: Six shots, one visa


Confidential to all: I am afraid of shots, heights, flying, large bodies of water and cats. With the exception of that last item, I’m going to have to confront all of these Tuesday for my trip to the Republic of South Sudan.

I mentioned in a previous post the excitement of visiting the world’s newest country and CISR’s colleagues and friends there. Unfortunately, we only received our passports/visas for travel to South Sudan, so some quick changes to our itinerary are in order. We’ll depart Tuesday, 20 March and have more time for field visits with Mines Advisory Group, Norwegian People’s Aid, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and local partners.

Maybe the pure excitement of travel and not my crippling fear of needles had me in a cold sweat last week at the local Department of Health. Instead of getting the one immunization for which I had come (yellow fever), the nurse gave me two additional shots (polio and meningitis). Her suggestion of a fourth (influenza) was a non-starter; I’ll take my chances with that one.

In all, I’ve had six immunizations over two doctors’ visits and a typhoid vaccination protocol that came (mercifully) in pill form. I also have a baggie of malaria pills to take (daily, with milk or food) beginning two days prior to departure and continuing a week after we return.  The tedious rules about vaccinations (yellow fever at least 10 days before departure but not with the typhoid protocol, which takes seven days total) and anxiety over travel notwithstanding, we’re pretty much going to have the time of our lives.

As for my fear of cats, it’s still early.  We may always see some lions.

Happy trails,

Geary

Geary Cox II (’06, ’08M, ’15P) is project manager and program coordinator at CISR. He joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant to the Journal of ERW and Mine Action in March 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, both from James Madison University. He is pursuing his doctorate in nonprofit leadership at JMU’s School of Strategic Leadership

CISR in Sudan 2012: Preparing for the big trip

The official birth of a new country is a rare occasion, and rarer still when the process can be orderly and peaceful. On 9 July 2011, CISR staffers watched as the Republic of South Sudan secured its hard-won, long-desired independence.

The moment was especially meaningful for those of us who worked on the 2011 Senior Managers’ Course in ERW and Mine Action. From mid-May to mid-June, CISR hosted 17 senior-level managers of landmine-remediation programs on the campus of James Madison University. As with all of our programs (but more so with an in-residence course like the SMC), a real camaraderie formed in our cohort. 

So when the Republic of South Sudan seceded from the Republic of Sudan, our thoughts were with these two states… but mostly with two of our participants—one from either side of the world’s newest political border. 

This Saturday, 17 March*, I will join two staff members from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) on a trip to Sudan and South Sudan. Besides this exciting opportunity for CISR, I have to provide some disclosure: The PM/WRA staffers and I are good friends and alumni of JMU. 

Emma (Smith) Atkinson is program manager for weapons-destruction programs in Sudan, South Sudan and several other African countries. Previously, she served as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow for Humanitarian Demining at PM/WRA and as a CISR Editorial Assistant, where she helped us facilitate a planning conference in Bogota, Colombia.

Katie Smith is the current HD Fellow at PM/WRA, having spent the past nine months assisting Emma with weapons-destruction programs in Sudan, South Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. She taught English for a year following graduation in American Samoa. 

CISR staffers have many preparations leading up to travel, yet the best one for me is contacting our colleagues and friends to plan reunions. In the coming days, I hope to share more about our preparations for this exciting trip. While we’re on-the-ground, I will do my best to post to the CISR blog… keep an eye out for updates.

Happy trails,

Geary

*Note: I should also mention that, as I write this Wednesday, 14 March, we still have not received our passports/visas for travel. All my immunization shots may have just made me the healthiest person who couldn’t leave the country.

Geary Cox II (’06, ’08M, ’15P) is project manager and program coordinator at CISR. He joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant to the Journal of ERW and Mine Action in March 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, both from James Madison University. He is pursuing his doctorate in nonprofit leadership at JMU’s School of Strategic Leadership