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During this episode, Marine Corps Maj Max Nauta discusses his Master’s thesis from the US Army Command and General Staff College entitled: Multinational Operations in Strategic Competition: Leveraging the Inherent Informational Aspects through Culture and Narrative. Strategic competitors have significantly increased their influence in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in ways that jeopardize US influence and threaten democratic governance. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia do this by exploiting the ambiguity of gray zone activities, such as predatory, opaque lending practices and the spreading of disinformation. US Forces, Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) builds resiliency against these gray zone activities through transparency, which it promotes through cooperation activities to strengthen partnerships and build trust in LAC. SOUTHCOM accomplished this, in part, through Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC), whose mission was to conduct mutually beneficial engagements with partner nations (PN) to address shared challenges in the region. SPMAGTF-SC 15, 16, and 17 were US-only task forces. SPMAGTF-SC 18, however, became the first multinational task force. SPMAGTF-SC 19 grew on this by integrating ten PN officers from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Belize, and the Dominican Republic. The author found that integrating PN officers into SPMAGTF-SC 18 and 19 exponentially strengthened partnerships in LAC at a relatively insignificant cost. This paper examines the degree to which integrating PN officers into SPMAGTF-SC 18 and 19 strengthened partnerships, and then compares those findings with theories on narrative and culture. In conclusion, the author presents the concept of a shared regional narrative and illuminates asymmetric characteristics of strategic competition in LAC.
Major Maxwell Nauta grew up in Chester Country, Pennsylvania, graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, and commissioned in the United States Marine Corps on March 18, 2011. After Officer Candidate School, he attended The Basic School, Infantry Officer Course, and Light Armored Reconnaissance Leaders Course.
In January 2012 he reported to 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion, MCAGCC, 29 Palms, CA, where he served as an LAR Platoon Commander from February 2012 to June 2013. In April 2012 Maj Nauta deployed as the senior Infantry Marine to New Zealand for the six-week joint, multinational exercise, Exercise Alam Halfa. From December 2012 to June 2013 he and his platoon independently deployed to Okinawa, Japan reporting to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion under the Unit Deployment Program. In June, he and his LAR platoon deployed to the Republic of Korea to participate in Exercise Ssang Yong 13, forming a multination LAR platoon with Australian Cavalry Soldiers. Upon returning from Okinawa, Japan, Maj Nauta served as the Assistant Operations Officer for 3rd LAR Battalion until March 2014 when he augmented into the Selected Marine Corps Reserve (SMCR).
In the SMCR, Maj Nauta first reported to Company C, 4th LAR Battalion, Salt Lake City, Utah serving as a Platoon Commander from March 2014 to March 2015. He then transferred to Headquarters Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 453 (CLB-453) in Aurora, Colorado, serving as the Headquarters Company Executive Officer until attending Supply Officers Course at Camp Johnson, North Carolina in August 2015.
In January 2016, Maj Nauta activated to serve as the Supply Officer for Special Purpose Marine-Air Ground Task Force – Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) 16, deploying to Honduras. Upon re-deployment in January 2017 he served as the Current Operations Officer, CLB-453.
In January 2018, Maj Nauta activated to serve as the Liaison Officer to the U.S. Embassy in Honduras for SPMAGTF-SC 18. In March 2019, he reactivated as the Key Leadership Engagement Coordinator for SPMAGTF-SC 19, deploying throughout the Southern Command area of responsibility. In preparation for this final SPMAGTF-SC deployment he attended the Civil Affairs Officers Course in March 2019.
Upon completion of SPMAGTF-SC 19 in February, 2019, he transferred to U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa (MARFOREUR/AF) and activated as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) serving as a Logistics Planner, G-4 and the Prepositioning Officer, MARFOREUR/AF. In October, 2021, he deactivated and was hired by Valiant Integrated Services as a Program Analysit in support of Africa Future Operations, G-35, MARFOREUR/AF. Maj Nauta is participating in U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s Information Advantage Scholars Program and is expected to transfer to Marine Corps Information Operations Center upon graduation.
Maj Nauta’s awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with three Gold Stars in lieu of fourth award. His formal education includes Infantry Officer Course, Light Armored Reconnaissance Leaders Course, Supply Officer Course, and Civil Affairs Officer Course and Expeditionary Warfare School.
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