Intelligence professors to conduct training in Balkans

Intelligence studies professors Kristan Wheaton and Steve Zidek received grants to conduct global training initiatives for the U.S. State Department.

Working under the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, Office of Export Control Cooperation, Wheaton and Zidek will train foreign government officials on international and U.S. commerce laws regarding weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms and other related items.

The grants, totaling nearly $144,000, came from Commonwealth Trading Partners of Alexandria, Va., a business that supports international outreach programs and provides export control assistance. Mercyhurst’s Center for Intelligence Research Analysis and Training, which contracted the grant, has an established relationship with the company and has worked with them in the past, according to Zidek.

Zidek, whose grant totals $93,274, will travel to Belgrade, Serbia, in March for a four-day workshop to train government officials on export laws and licensing issues.

Wheaton will be part of a six-country training tour during summer 2015 to train law enforcement and export control officials in using electronic tools to track exported commodities. Locations on the western Balkan tour include Tirana, Albania; Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Pristina, Kosovo; Skopje, Macedonia; Podgorica, Montenegro; and Belgrade, Serbia. His training will be funded in the amount of $50,589.

Zidek said the training is beneficial to all parties involved.

“Hopefully [it will have an impact] not only on the operations, the government bureaucrats that we’re training, making sure they do things right, I think it has an impact for the country, the former Yugoslavian Republics. They’re very well trained people but they’re trying to work on their economy, you know, and develop their economy,” said Zidek. “And in the meantime, we’re going to help our industry, Western Europe and the United States.”

Zidek also said the upcoming training reflects well on Mercyhurst.

“We send trainers all over the world. Dr. Breckenridge, Professors Wozneak and Grabelski, they’ve trained in Malaysia and Nigeria and Ghana, so we go out and we do that kind of outreach and it’s really good for Mercyhurst, I think, knowing a little university in Erie, Pennsylvania is out there doing some pretty cool things,” Zidek said.

According to Zidek, the diverse backgrounds of the professors and faculty of Mercyhurst’s Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science combined with the private sector is an ideal model that makes this type of international work possible. “We can bring that expertise with that contracting arm, and go outside of our community,” he said.