Long-time Webster adjunct faculty member Larry Acker was recently deployed in Afghanistan as an Army civilian social scientist in the Human Terrain System at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. For seven months, Acker, assigned to the U.S. Marines, was responsible for designing research to provide brigade staff with timely, relevant socio-cultural information about the civilian population.
His pre-deployment training included a 10-week course at Leavenworth, Kansas, and successful completion of an additional 10-week Combat Advisor–Foreign Security Forces course at Ft. Polk, Louisiana.
Acker’s decision to enter the program as a civilian social scientist was featured last year in Webster Today. Now he has stories to tell from the experience.
“As a social scientist I worked with three other team members, reporting to a team leader,” Acker explained. “We were within the Intelligence section of the Regional Command (Southwest). The majority of individuals I worked with were U.S. Marines, but I also worked with British sailors and airmen. There were numerous other Coalition forces represented on the base.
“Our basic job,” he continued, “was to find methods to answer questions Command might have about the local civilian population — such as how they were feeling about Coalition forces, what they thought would happen when those forces withdrew from the area, and how they thought Afghan forces, like the army and police, were doing in the area. This often entailed going out into the largely desert community and joining Marine patrols.”
Acker’s deployment was recently completed and he returned to St. Louis where he has taught healthcare management at the Webster campus since 1984. Before joining Webster, Acker was an associate professor of healthcare management at Harris-Stowe State University.
Acker moved to St. Louis from New Orleans in 1958 and attended kindergarten through high school in St. Louis. He graduated from Saint Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Washington University with a master’s degree in health administration, and University of Missouri-St. Louis with a doctorate in education.
A Chance to Give Back
Regarding his service as an Army civilian, Acker said, “Out of high school I was a cadet at West Point — I left in 1975 right after the Vietnam war ended. So this was a chance to give back — I’ve had friends whose children were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan — and a chance to look down that road not originally taken.”
Acker recently met with Webster University President Beth Stroble and Brigadier General Mike Callan, USAF (Ret.), Webster’s associate vice president for Military & Government Programs.
Consider Callan impressed after their conversation.
“I came away not just with respect for Larry’s long-term service to Webster University as an adjunct faculty member, but also respect for his recent deployed time in Afghanistan, where his contributions to Regional Command Southwest were vital,” Callan said.