Raymond Arke | News Editor
Duquesne’s mission statement is all about service. One Duquesne professor takes that statement to heart, serving not only Duquesne’s community but also serving the country as a major general. Lewis Irwin, a Duquesne political science professor, is on sabbatical this semester as he serves as Deputy Chief of Army Reserve at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
Irwin has spent a lifetime in the military, starting with attending West Point Military Academy and then later in life transitioning to the Army Reserve.
“I’ve been in the Army for 31 years, not counting the 4 years I spent at West Point. My first 14 years were on active duty. In 2000, I transferred to the Army Reserve and at the same time I was hired by Duquesne,” he said.
The Army Reserve is described on its website as “providing operational capability and strategic depth” to the regular Army forces.
Since joining the Reserves in 2000, Irwin has seen the force develop and transform.
“In 2000, the Army Reserve was kind of a quiet place. Once 9/11 happened the Army Reserve changed their focus. All of the Reserve (Army, Navy, etc) are expected to be operational. They participate in training and exercises around the world,” he said.
Irwin’s latest promotion places him into two new roles at the Pentagon, which he describes as “really neat.” One of the new positions is Deputy Chief which places him as one of two deputies to the commanding officer.
He explained that the appointments are “not a promotion of rank, but a promotion of responsibility.”
“The Army Reserve consists of a force of 200,000 soldiers commanded by a single three-star general General [Charles] Luckey,” Irwin said. “He has two deputies: one who works on the component side in the Pentagon and the other with the actual troop units stationed in Ft. Bragg. “I’m the two-star general who helps him with the component side responsibility.”
The additional role that Irwin took on was that of the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve (OCAR) Chief of Staff. Being chief of staff has him overseeing an additional 450 soldiers and civilian employees who work for Luckey, which allows him to be involved in the policy process.
“I oversee the staff that helps Gen. Luckey meet his statutory obligations and his priorities. Statutory obligations are the actual laws he must follow, such as placing his input in the presidential budget and assisting Congress,” he said.
Irwin believes that his work at the Pentagon is really applicable to his role at Duquesne, especially since he teaches classes such as American National Government and Public Policy.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me. It is serving at the highest level of policy-making . . . [The job is] really beneficial to my teaching because it offers a practical perspective on how policy works at the national level,” he said.
Irwin also pointed out that his experiences while teaching have also assisted him with his military work creating a beneficial cycle.
“Teaching helps to inform my participation in policy-making. The questions I get from students help,” he said. “Students are good at challenging assumptions. Teaching helps the participation in policy making, and policy making helps my participation in teaching.”
Irwin made sure to thank his coworkers at Duquesne for allowing him to pursue this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and assume a dual role as professor and general.
“The only way this is possible is with the generous support of the administration and my colleagues at Duquesne,” he said. “This is the third time I’ve been mobilized into active service while at Duquesne, once for training soldiers for Afghanistan and Iraq and once to serve in Afghanistan.”
Irwin also gave some words of advice to current students, particularly ones interested in politics and national security, asking that they stay dispassionate and pursue only facts.
“Inside national security policy-making, the facts usually win … It is a rational and deliberative process,” he said.
“It is important to be empirical in your perspective, not just reacting emotionally and ideologically.”
Irwin had most recently served as the Commanding General of the 926th Engineer Brigade of the U.S. Army Reserve which had him oversee 5,500 Army Reserve troops. According to his biography on the Army Reserve website other notable assignments included Irwin serving a combat tour with the 3rd Armored Division during the first Gulf War and being responsible for a coalition team which helped design and implement reforms for the Afghan National Police in 2007-2008.
His Army Reserve biography also states that Irwin has been awarded the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Stars, along with a variety of other service-related awards.