While even Midwestern Irish fans might come for a few home games each year, usher Paul Matthew journeyed 15 hours from Ottawa to South Bend for each and every one of Notre Dame’s home games this season. A volunteer usher since 2002, Matthew recently signed on as a full-time usher. He said he has seen a positive progression on the field and in the stands in recent years. “The team’s come so far – if we don’t do it this year, the future looks very bright,” Matthews said. “I think this year I’ve noticed the crowd’s been louder more often, but the odd thing about Notre Dame is the Stadium is always packed. Other schools have successful years but then during the unsuccessful years the crowds don’t come – not so at Notre Dame. The smiles just got a little bit bigger this year.” Matthew makes a significant trek to see those smiles throughout the season. After a three-hour drive to Syracuse, N.Y., he boards a 12-hour, overnight Amtrak train ride to South Bend, arriving early Friday morning. While he maintains a full-time job at home, working as a statistical analyst for the Canadian government, Matthew said his trips to Notre Dame do not complicate his working life. “From a work standpoint, it doesn’t affect work[ing for the government,]” Matthews said. “I get five weeks of vacation each year, and I’m there for seven games – that’s fourteen days. I still have three weeks of vacation time, and because it’s only two days at a time I still have three work days in between.” Matthew said his interest in American college football is not the norm for Canadians. “To the Canadians this is all a foreign concept, college football,” Matthews said. “When I first started doing this it was a true culture shock, and then I realized it was a pretty cool gig.” Despite his usual Friday-morning arrival, Matthew said his responsibilities typically don’t begin until early Saturday. “We have a meeting [Saturday morning] to find out what’s going on that day, how many people to expect on the sidelines, who is coming, who will help with the players’ entrance: What’s happening in the stadium that day,” Matthews said. Matthew is usually stationed near the north end zone by the tunnel and helps control the crowd and facilitate the entrance of the team, coaches, media and notable fans. “A lot of the work is pregame: Some people who have tickets to the game get access to the field, some people just have the pregame pass that allows them to be on one side of the tunnel until just after the Irish football team enters the game, some people have field passes and are allowed on the field for the entire game in a different area,” Matthews said. “You also have to separate recruits … they go on the side with the Irish and get to hang there during the game.” While he does not have much direct communication with those on the field, Matthew said he has gained a new appreciation for all the people working behind the scenes for the football program. “They have a job to do, so I’m an observer,” Matthews said. “There’s some minimal dialogue, very minor small talk … but I have developed a perception of the network behind the team: the trainers, coaches, doctors, the people who tape and retape the players when they get hurt.” Matthews said he has been awestruck by some of the people who have passed through the tunnel. “[Basketball legend] David Robinson was coming down the tunnel because his son was coming to Notre Dame … I made sure I was the person who said ‘Welcome to Notre Dame, Mr. Robinson,’” Matthews said. “He stopped, turned around and stepped towards me, offering me his hand to shake … I had to calm down after that; that was a personal highlight.” Matthews said he was thrilled to meet the Canadian Olympians during the tribute to the Notre Dame Olympians earlier this season. “I knew about the women’s basketball player [Natalie Achonwa], but I didn’t know about the two women on our soccer team [Melissa Tancredi and Candace Chapman],” Matthews said. “They stopped and introduced themselves to me – famous Canadians introducing themselves to me, an unfamous Canadian.” Matthews said the unpredictability is one of his favorite parts of the job. “That’s the beauty of the job: you never know who’s going to show up that day,” he said. “All I can do is to try to take it in stride and do my best … I have a job to do.”
DIÁLOGO: What is the future of Integrated Action in Colombia? What is its strategic perspective? Deputy Minister Bedoya: The role of Integrated Action in a post-conflict scenario will be to facilitate and support state presence throughout the nation, by using a sustained and inclusive social offer that generates the conditions for free active citizen participation, the reinforcement of civil power and rural development as a thriving force. Post-conflict Integrated Action will demand the Public Forces – among other actors – to be devoted to developing permanent infrastructure projects in remote and difficult-to-access areas in the nation with the help of the current Central Office of Military Engineers, which will become the Corps of Military Engineers, with disaster assistance, humanitarian demining and construction brigades. DIÁLOGO: Deputy Minister, we are aware that the Colombian war plan is under revision in a process of improvement; could you tell us about the current role of Integrated Action in the development of the ‘Sword of Honor’ war plan? How is it connected to the Colombian consolidation policy? DIÁLOGO: How do you think that other countries with conflicts or violent scenarios may learn from the Colombian experience? How can Colombia benefit from this situation? DIÁLOGO: What is the importance of the coordination of Integrated Action with the civil component in the consolidation? Deputy Minister Bedoya: The ‘Sword of Honor’ plan states that 40% of the military effort should be aimed at kinetic action, while 60% should be aimed at non-kinetic action, making Integrated Action a fundamental tool for the Armed Forces to design and apply social, political and economic strategies that are consistent with the National Policy of Territorial Consolidation and Reconstruction PNCRT. Therefore, Integrated Action as the non-kinetic component of the war plan allows a strategic alignment of actions aimed at winning the minds and hearts of populations where it is enforced, keeping them away from the Total Terrorist Threat SAT-T. As a result, a general, coordinated and decisive Integrated Action will allow the application of territorial consolidation in strategic areas where this threat is concentrated and keep it in isolation. Deputy Defense Minister for International Affairs and Policy, Jorge Enrique Bedoya: The revision of the ‘Sword of Honor’ war plan concluded in a series of recommendations for the Armed Forces and the Police High Command, issued by the Strategic Revision and Innovation Committee (CREI II) in September, under a joint, coordinated and interagency approach. CREI II favored the support of state policies and efforts, in order to guarantee a permanent state presence in areas where it is absent, by strengthening the relationships between civil population and Public Forces. As a result, with regard to Integrated Action, this war plan is intended to achieve short- (early victories), mid- and long-term (transformation) goals. Early victories include the development of infrastructure projects that will benefit populations in strategic areas where the influence of the Total Terrorist Threat System (SAT-T) still persists. The Ministry of National Defense has invested $100 million that is being used by the National Army’s Central Office of Military Engineers in road, aqueduct and basic sanitation, electricity, and social infrastructure projects, bringing benefits to the population of these areas. Integrated Action uses tools such as those developed by Integrated Action Companies, Demobilization Support Groups, Commander’s Assessing Team, and the National Police’s Prevention System. In regards to mid-term goals, the strengthening of liaison offices with ethnic groups is a very important tool of unarmed capabilities that Public Forces use to build relationships with ethnic communities (indigenous, African descendants, Raizals, and Palenqueros) within a culturally diverse state, reinforcing strategies to generate trust and familiarity between special populations and the Public Forces. In the long term, a transformational process will take place within the Forces, to gain a greater impact in the coordinated interagency work that will allow Integrated Action and the Prevention System to become a main tool to disseminate governance. Therefore, incentives for the Integrated Action personnel will be created, promoting specialization in the field. Deputy Minister Bedoya: Currently, Colombia is offering its knowledge and expertise with subject matter expert exchanges in Integrated Action and Civil Affairs. We are especially interested in increasing this cooperation, considering that this knowledge is supported by the construction of legitimacy, trust, and identity of citizens towards their Public Forces in the process of reconstruction and consolidation of territories. Security Forces of other countries are interested in learning the doctrine used by Colombia, the way in which it is developed and how Integrated Action plans are designed. During 2013, we conducted two activities in Guatemala, which were coordinated between the governments of Colombia and the United States. The former was a meeting of Integrated Action experts held on April 22 – 26, 2013, and the latter will be conducted on November 3 – 10 with a meeting of experts to make an action plan (working route) official, as well as an integrated strategic proposal in the cooperation framework between Colombia and Guatemala. DIÁLOGO: If Colombia becomes officially a post-conflict scenario, what do you think Integrated Action’s role will be in this process? In 2012, Colombia created Operation Sword of Honor as a counterinsurgent strategy to confront guerrilla violence in the country, by which the list of military targets and locations where the Armed Forces would confront guerrillas was increased, with the aim of undermining the FARC not only in the military field, but financially as well. President Juan Manuel Santos announced the second phase of Sword of Honor, a military offensive against the FARC in seven departments in southern Colombia, on October 11. As a result, the ‘Comando Conjunto Número 3 Suroriente’ with over 50,000 members was created. During Colombia’s internal conflict, the South American nation developed unique strategies and capabilities, which can now be used as an example by other countries that are experiencing similar conflicts. This is the case of ‘Integrated Action and Consolidation’ (Acción Integral y Consolidación,) two strategies that promote a solid state intervention in rural areas swamped by illegal armed groups, and foster development. During a recent visit to Bogotá, Diálogo had the chance to speak with the Colombian Deputy Defense Minister for International Affairs and Policy, Jorge Enrique Bedoya, who told us about the role of Integrated Action in the development of operation Sword of Honor, as well as the current and future role of Integrated Action towards peace, among other topics. Deputy Minister Bedoya: Due to the security problems that Colombia has faced for over 50 years, especially in the fight against international drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, terrorism and other threats, the Public Forces have gathered experience and knowledge that created human potential and top-notch capabilities to support the improvement of internal processes, as well as reinforcing capabilities in countries that confront similar threats. Therefore, Colombia can provide and share its knowledge through cooperation mechanisms, training, technical and legal assistance, expertise exchanges, defense and security courses and assessments, so that these countries can confront transnational threats more efficiently. The results obtained by the Public Forces and the higher effectiveness achieved in land, air, and maritime interdiction procedures show the great potential of the country to support and assist institutional reform processes, and to provide assessment in building security knowledge and doctrine, as well as operational and coordination capabilities in security institutions of those nations. Colombia will be able to strengthen its domestic capabilities even more, by becoming a strategic partner to confront regional and international security challenges on technical cooperation in security and defense. This is a joint effort that will allow strengthening friendships between the regional states, and increasing their cooperation by making the fight against common and organized crime more efficient. Deputy Minister Bedoya: The coordination of Integrated Action with the civil component of consolidation is represented in a coordinated, joint, and interagency effort conducted between the Armed Forces and the State, which is represented by its Ministries and the Social Action Department (DPS). State policies are enforced through the Special Administrative Unit of Territorial Consolidation (UAECT), an organization that works jointly with the state in order to create development projects in order to reinforce institutional legitimacy. This interaction with the Public Force also requires the private sector’s participation through consolidation initiatives and projects (economic, social, cultural, infrastructure, etc.) in the quest for a more thriving country. By Dialogo February 07, 2014 DIÁLOGO: What is Colombia’s current role as a cooperating partner with other nations that work jointly with the U.S. (for instance, the CENTAM case)?