2012-03-15 / News

Retired Marine prepares for 3-month trip to Afghanistan

Col. David Fuquea will be the sixth War College professor to go overseas

Retired Col. David Fuquea is a professor at the Naval War College. He will soon be deployed as a civilian to Afghanistan to offer a different perspective to troops than from what the Marine chain of command offers. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Retired Col. David Fuquea is a professor at the Naval War College. He will soon be deployed as a civilian to Afghanistan to offer a different perspective to troops than from what the Marine chain of command offers. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Longtime Jamestown resident David Fuquea is about to deploy for a three-month tour in Afghanistan. But after a 30-year career in the Marine Corps, Fuquea is going overseas as a civilian.

Fuquea was born in Norfolk, Va., the son of a Navy man. His mother was born and raised in Jamestown. When he was 2 years old his father was stationed in Newport, so the family moved home to Jamestown. Fuquea grew up on Union Street until he went off to college at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1977.

Following graduation in 1981, Fuquea was in the Marine Corps for nearly 30 years. During the course of his career as a combat infantry officer, he traveled to more than 100 countries on six of the seven continents. He was permanently stationed in Hawaii, California and North Carolina at different times in his career.

The Marine colonel also did a two-year exchange job with the British Royal Marines that found him living in Portsmouth, England, for two years. His daughter, now a sixth-grader, was born in London during this time. Fuquea and his wife also have a 19-yearold son who is in college.

Fuquea served with the Marines in the Al Anbar province of Iraq for one year in 2007 and 2008. There he was director of all of the Iraqi security forces, which meant manning, training and equipping the army, police force and border patrol.

“I can only speak as far as the Marine Corps presence in Al Anbar province,” Fuquea said. “When the Marine Corps took over in Al Anbar province in 2005, it was very much considered a place that we could never be successful, that no counterinsurgency could ever triumph in that province. And yet, due to the magnificent work of an awful lot of young men and women, we did that.”

Fuquea said that the counterinsurgency strategy in Al Anbar was successful, and the level of violence plummeted over the course of the next couple of years.

“But to be honest, in a larger context that is being proven out by what is going on in Iraq still, it would have been very difficult from a strategic perspective for us to have ever been successful as a military interdiction. That’s my view.”

Earlier missions took Fuquea to Kosovo and the Philippines. He was deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Fuquea also participated in non-combatant evacuations in war zones including Albania and Sierra Leone.

Fuquea retired from the military in 2010. The following year he was offered a teaching job at the Naval War College in Newport, which enabled the family to return home to Jamestown once again.

At the War College, Fuquea’s mission is to teach operational and strategic level skills to Navy officers who will then take those skills back to the fleet where their new capabilities can be employed. Fuquea is a member of the faculty of the Maritime Staff Operators Course, which is a five-week program that prepares primarily offi- cers, from the grade of lieutenant junior grade up to Navy commander, to be members of an operational staff for one of the fleets.

“Almost all of the officers are coming from being tactical offi- cers,” Fuquea said. “Most of their career they’ve been driving ships or diving submarines or flying planes. They’re incredibly good at what they do. There is nobody in the world better at that tactical level. But the transition from being a tactically minded officer up to being an operationally minded officer is a difficult one for people to understand. We try to inculcate that into them and teach them some skills and tangible tools that they can use to make themselves better officers when they go to the fleet.”

Fuquea says that he is “incredibly optimistic” about the future of the nation’s armed forces. He points to a vast improvement since the time he went to the Naval Academy, citing the dark cloud that was still hanging over the military as a result of Vietnam at that time. His own brother served a one-year deployment in Vietnam and had a diffi cult time transitioning when his deployment ended.

Four years of recruiting duty for the Marines in the 1980s allowed Fuquea to witness the transition from the draft to the all-volunteer force that we have now. “The ability and the talent of the young men and women who are coming into the military today is mind boggling,” he said. “Especially when you compare it to what it was like 30 or 40 years ago. They are just incredibly capable young folks who have made the decision to support the country and to serve the country. They’re making that decision knowing that there is a very good possibility that they’re going to go into combat. It makes me feel very good about the future.”

Although Fuquea sees room for improvement in the nation’s treatment of returning combat veterans, he points to the fact that any large program is going to have challenges. His optimism for the future of the military extends to the veterans’ care as well. Fuquea says that during his 10 years at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, he personally witnessed an exponential improvement in all aspects of medical treatment being given to returning soldiers.

“What the Marine Corps does very well is accept the fact that there are challenges and problems and continues to work towards the best kind of solution we can come up with,” Fuquea said.

He says that the level of acceptance of returning soldiers by the civilian population has also improved since the dark days of Vietnam. “When I walked off the plane coming home from Iraq in 2008, the open arms with which I was accepted back by American society just made me cry.”

Fuquea said it is apparent on a day-to-day basis that the average American is able to distinguish between a political agenda and the acceptance of a man or woman’s desire to serve their country. “I don’t know that I could be more complimentary of American society and the way they accept military members today,” he said.

Fuquea’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan he will be in support of the war fighters there. For more than two years, at the Marine Corps request, the War College has maintained a civilian professor at the Marine headquarters in Afghanistan. The educator provides a different perspective from outside the Marine chain of command, and delivers information and assessments to the Marines in Afghanistan. Five professors preceded Fuquea.

“When the call went out from the provost here at the Naval War College for anybody that was interested in volunteering to do this I put up my hand because it’s an opportunity for me to continue to not only serve and help, but also to keep my own perspective and my own credibility about what I teach the young students here,” Fuquea said. “I will bring the things that I see right back here and go full circle.”

During his deployment, Fuquea will send back periodic dispatches to the Jamestown Press.

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