Director's Message

by Kenneth Rutherford [ Center for International Stabilization and Recovery ]

Dear Readers,

Ken RutherfordFollowing in COL (Ret.) Dennis Barlow’s footsteps as the new Director of James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery/Mine Action Information Center will be a challenging but blessed job. Dennis has worked long and hard to establish and make the Center the global success that it is. He deserves a hearty round of applause from all those involved in post-conflict humanitarian work.

While most Journal readers know that Dennis founded and served as the MAIC’s long-time Director, they may not know that he previously was the Director of Humanitarian Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the first leader of the Humanitarian Demining Task Force in the Pentagon. Moreover, he helped spearhead humanitarian efforts by leading some of the world’s first coordinated civil-military actions with nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations in Panama, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kurdistan and Haiti.

Dennis developed a center with a wide array of assets to address post-conflict issues effectively: access to JMU’s nationally ranked faculty; ability to capitalize on a neutral, trusted university status; proven experience supporting post-conflict clearance; skill in coordinating global partners; the ability to provide customized deliverables through a variety of methods and media; and broad expertise of worldwide cultural and humanitarian issues. If you would like to read more about Dennis and his work at the Center, I encourage you to read Dr. John Noftsinger’s article on page 8.

Perhaps Dennis’ greatest legacy is the CISR/MAIC staff: Lois Carter Fay, Geary Cox, Suzanne Fiederlein, Carolyn Firkin, Nicole Neitzey, Daniele Ressler, Jennifer Risser, Heather Wilson and the Center’s student workers. Everyone here is dedicated to helping organizations and governments overcome post-conflict threats. In fact, one of our staff’s outstanding efforts is The Journal of ERW and Mine Action, which you are holding in your hands or viewing online. This award-winning magazine is the longest continuous source of mine-action information in the world.

Eight years ago, I accepted an invitation to contribute an article to The Journal (Issue 6.3, December 2003) describing my landmine experience, which occurred when I was 31 years old. Following is an excerpt:

“Laying there in the hot Somali sun on the hard sandy ground covered with sharp rocks with my mutilated, bloody feet on the driver’s seat—I had a smile on my face. Up to this point, I never thought about dying, but I was thanking God for what a wonderful and blessed life I’d had. As I spit up more blood and tried unsuccessfully to put my right foot back on, I asked God to let me live. I promised him that if I lived, I would pursue my real dreams: marrying Kim, having children with her and becoming a university professor.”

It is with a grateful heart that these dreams have come true, so the smile was not wasted. When I wrote my first article, I never envisioned that I would one day join this prestigious organization. With a humble attitude and deep commitment to furthering CISR’s work while maintaining its quality, I am honored to say I am CISR/MAIC’s Director. Stay tuned.

Kenneth R. Rutherford, Director
Mine Action Information Center
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University