The summer of 2018 introduced a unique opportunity I was privileged to experience. I had the honor of attending the Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS) as a representative of the Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment. Feeling like an insignificant ‘no hook private,’ I was surprised when I received notice that members of the Regiment supported my request to attend. To put things into context, the demographics of the participant population was mainly senior officers and consisted of a total five (from what I counted) non-commissioned Military members – two Chief Warrant Officers, one Master Warrant Officer, a Warrant Officer, and a lone Private Yosofzai. There were also professors from Canadian and International academic institutions in attendance – however, the most intimidating part of the conference was sitting amongst distinguished senior Officers such as Major-General Simon C. Hetherington, along with US War College Generals.
The theme of the conference, Return of Deterrence: Credibility and Capabilities in a New Era, was enthralling as I am a Political Philosophy student at Queen’s University. Attending this conference allowed me to network with individuals who I never would have had the privilege of talking to in a normal military setting. I learned a lot from incredible scholars. From Doctor Christine Fair’s presentation on Filling the Deterrence Gap in India: The Need for Sub-Conventional Deterrence to Prof. Stephen M. Saideman’s presentation, Deterrence, and Reassurance in the Incredible age of Trump, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat eager to know more. These presentations are not only extremely relevant to Military Personnel, but they are also very interesting – they provide a glimpse into topics of research most of these scholars devote the entirety of their lives on.
During part of the conference, there was a dinner cruise in which I decided to sit with a group of gentlemen in civilian attire. After speaking to them for about an hour, I realized they were all Colonels in high commanding positions. They confessed that the first impression they had when they saw me enter the conference room was, “hmm, why is an Officer Cadet at this Conference… wait, no… that is a Private… why is a Private at this conference?!” – Followed by this confession came a great compliment. They stated that after conversing with me for ten minutes, I had shattered the negative bias they had on me and on Privates overall. They gained a deeper understanding of the varying skillsets that come with being a Reservist. As Reservists, we have the privilege of serving in the Military while also progressing (in parallel) in our academics or our professional careers.
I strongly urge all members of the PWOR to consider attending KCIS – the experience is a unique professional development opportunity that will benefit you in ways you would not imagine.