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Xavier Magazine | November 23, 2017

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Profile: Col. Jerry Sullivan (Ret.)

By Julie Irwin Zimmerman

Col. Jerry Sullivan (Ret.)

Bachelor of Science in communication arts, 1979
Director for intergovernmental affairs and liaison at the
Africa Center for Strategic Studies
Vienna, Va.

Service and Learning | Sullivan was in ROTC at Xavier and entered active duty in the U.S. Army after graduation. A decade later, while stationed in Germany, he earned a master’s degree in international relations from Boston University. “I always had an interest in international relations,” says Sullivan, who was able to earn the degree while in Germany. “I sampled a couple courses, and I absolutely fell in love with it.”

Divided Loyalties | Sullivan and his family moved back to Cincinnati in 1991, and two more advanced degrees followed: a master’s degree and a PhD in political science from the University of Cincinnati. “It means I’m conflicted during the Crosstown Shootout,” he says.

Lengthy Tome | His dissertation focused on the role of the U.S. Congress in foreign policy during the post-Cold War period.

Along the Way | Sullivan also learned to speak French, German and Russian, along with some Spanish, Dutch and Swedish.

Dark Day | Sullivan was teaching at the National War College, located about a mile from the Pentagon, on Sept. 11, 2001. Because of the attack on the Pentagon, Sullivan was required to stay on site for much of the day. “We could see the flames and the huge black smoke in the air” coming from the Pentagon.

Hot Spots | Sullivan spent a chunk of his military career as Deputy Division Chief of Political-Military Affairs for Central and South Asia for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The region covers many of the most dangerous parts of the world, including Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, which prompted Sullivan to come up with the motto: “If it ends in ‘stan,’ I’m your man.” He was extensively involved in the planning of military operations in Afghanistan following 9/11.

Emphasis on Africa | Sullivan retired from the Army in 2006 and now works for the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. The center promotes contacts between American and African military and civilian officials to support democracy, bolster security and counter ideological support for terrorism. It focuses on countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Immersion Learning | Sullivan is headed to Kenya soon, his first visit to the African continent, although he travels frequently to Stuttgart, Germany, where the U.S. Africa command is headquartered. His previous work took him to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and India. “You can read about a country all your life, but things don’t begin to resonate until you get on the ground and see it,” he says. “The on-the-ground experience is always worth volumes more than what you find in a book.”

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