Maj. Mark Jacobsen
I am a U.S. Air Force officer, a C-17 instructor pilot, a Middle East specialist, and a writer. This is a blog about my wide-ranging interests in foreign affairs, leadership, good books, writing, language, religion, and culture. If there is one common thread, it is my personal mission of “building peace”–learning about the world and its people, and employing this knowledge in the service of building a better world. I view myself as a lifelong student, and my goal at Building Peace is to multiply the impact of my ongoing education by sharing with others.
I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 2002 with a degree in Astronautical Engineering and a minor in math, attended Undergraduate Pilot Training in 2003-2004, and spent four years flying the C-17 Globemaster III at McChord AFB, WA.
In 2008 I was selected for an Olmsted scholarship to Amman, Jordan. I spent eight months studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA then moved with my family to Amman for two years. I continued to study both Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine Arabic and earned a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the University of Jordan. My master’s thesis was on different discourses about Islam within the United States. I also spent two months studying basic shariah and tajwiid (Qur’an memorization and recital) at an Islamic school. I traveled extensively within Jordan, as well as to Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. The Arab Spring began during my second year in the region. I am fluent (but nowhere near native) in Arabic, and am also learning Turkish.
At present, I am flying C-17s again. I expect to alternate between flying-related and Middle East-related assignments for the remainder of my military career.
I have a passion for reading and writing. My short stories took 2nd place and 1st place respectively for the 2000 & 2001 Asimov/Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. My first novel, The Lords of Harambee, is available electronically and in trade paperback at Amazon.com. I am currently working on a second novel, as well as a book about the debate surrounding Islam.