The inaugural presentation of the Simons Center National Security Forum was conducted May 20, 2021, in a luncheon event at the Des Moines Embassy Club West (520 Market St., West Des Moines, Iowa 50266).
In this presentation of the forum, Lt. Col. John J. Nelson, U.S. Army Retired, chief executive officer of Morris, Nelson & Associates, LLC, and a senior research fellow of the Arthur D. Simons Center, delivered a presentation on Counter Human Trafficking efforts in the United States.
After the luncheon period wound down, the forum began with a welcome by CGSC Foundation Trustee and Board Treasurer Terry Lillis, an Iowan and long-time resident of the Des Moines area. Lillis highlighted the sponsors of the forum, including: Brownells, Inc.; MercyOne; Casey’s General Stores, Inc.; Hy-Vee, Inc.; Principal Financial Group; Mr. Terry Handley, former President/CEO, Casey’s General Stores; the Polk County Community Betterment Program; and Dorothy’s House. The forum was also supported by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Simons Center Founder and current Director Col. (Ret.) Bob Ulin then took the podium and provided a background brief on the CGSC Foundation and its Simons Center and introduced Nelson.
In his presentation Nelson provided an overview of the human trafficking problem in terms of its scope and impact. He spoke about the root causes that lead to the victimization of vulnerable persons in our society and the factors that promote individuals becoming traffickers. He also offered insights into what motivates buyers.
Throughout his presentation Nelson touched on the problem of human trafficking from a broad perspective, but a perspective that nonetheless applies to the Des Moines area, or any other large city, especially those situated along an Interstate Highway corridor.
Nelson highlighted how this modern form of slavery operates as a highly profitable business with complex mechanisms of recruiting, grooming, exploitation, and geography, and its linkages to both gang activity and transnational organized crime. He also addressed some of the legal, jurisdictional, mission, funding, and capability challenges facing the various federal, state, local, and non-governmental agencies conducting the interagency fight against human trafficking.
After his presentation, Nelson took questions from attendees and CGSC Foundation President/CEO Col. (Ret.) Roderick Cox closed the program with a presentation and thank you to Lillis who was the chief organizer of the event in the Des Moines area.
“We’re hopeful that discussion of this issue was informative to our attendees, those in government and in the private sector, who have been touched in some way by this tragic issue of human trafficking,” said Cox. “I must also say that having Dorothy’s House involved with the event brought the issue to life for those who had the opportunity to speak to Founder and Executive Director Kellie Markey who attended the forum. Markey founded Dorothy’s House in 2016 as a safe place for survivors of human trafficking, exploitation and prostitution to provide support to them.”
Cox added that the national security forum allows the CGSC Foundation and its Simons Center the opportunity to address the Foundation outreach mission, connecting the general populace with world-class experts on a variety of security and leadership topics resident at Fort Leavenworth and across government. He said topics such as the human trafficking issue are very important issues, and forums such as this provide the opportunity for education and important discussions.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) John J. Nelson is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds master’s degrees in both training simulations and engineering management. Following his career in the Army, he has been developing analytical approaches, simulations, models, and strategies for federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and non- profit organizations fighting transnational organized crime. He has presented at numerous conferences and written or co-written several papers and research publications.
The Arthur D. Simons Center was established April 21, 2010 as a major program of the Command and General Staff College Foundation, Inc. The Center focuses on ethical leadership and governmental interagency cooperation. The Simons Center National Security Forum is a professional information sharing and networking event hosted by CGSC Foundation and Simons Center leaders. For more information visit www.thesimonscenter.org and www.cgscfoundation.org.