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Colonel returns to USF from Operation Iraqi Freedom

Col. Luis Visot was sent to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 25, 2003. This summer, he returns to both a new job and a new title at USF.

In February, he returned from serving as Commander of the 32nd Transportation Group. Visot was in charge of about 5,500 soldiers and 53 units to provide transportation and supplies to the fighters in the operation.

“We had 800 trucks load cargo and supplies and travel to the war fighters during the 13 months I was there,” Visot said.

Leaving for over a year was hard on his family, Visot said, but after being in the Army Reserve for 26 years, he realized it was part of the job. However, Visot, after working at USF for 23 years in several positions, came back to work with a new title and objective. On Monday, USF President Judy Genshaft named Visot executive director of USF’s Joint Military Sciences Leadership Center.

In an interview Wednesday night, Visot said the Center will be officially announced as opened in the fall, but right now, he is working on projects to get the new Center together and organized.

“We are working on a conference that will happen in the fall that will educate USF and the other universities in the area about the ROTC programs and the Center,” Visot said.

The Center will be funded by a $6-million grant from the U.S. Congress. Genshaft said in an e-mail to the university community that the Center would provide for USF’s ROTC programs “at the forefront of effective, cooperative and integrated leadership between military branches.”

“The whole idea is to teach our cadets jointness and multi-service function (within the military branches),” Visot said. “For example, a cadet who is in the Army will learn Marine and Air Force skills as well. It will give them better understanding of all areas of the military early on in their career; usually they wouldn’t learn other skills until being in the service for about 12 years.

“We will depend on getting ahead of the normal process.”

Genshaft added in the e-mail that she was excited to hear that Congress had given USF the grant.

“(The Center) will also help us all to better understand the cross-cultural dimensions and global response to America’s military presence around the world today,” Genshaft said in the e-mail.

Visot said he thinks one of the reasons USF was picked for the Center was because of its strategic location in the Tampa Bay area.

“We have a lot of military retirees and the Florida National Guard headquarters in Tampa,” Visot said. “Plus I think Congressman C.W. Bill Young’s interest with USF and its ROTC programs helped establish this jointness and the Center.”

Visot added that one of his main goals with the Center is building partnerships with other Florida universities and their ROTC programs, with the hope of getting noticed nationally as well.

“It will definitely (be a) good recruitment tool for USF,” he said.

As executive director of the Center, Visot will be working directly with Provost Renu Khator and as a liaison to the U.S. Department of Defense directly through the National Defense University and Joint Forces Command, as well with local military leaders at MacDill Air Force base.

“We want to establish strong relationships with the unified commands of the military such as special operations and central command,” Visot said.

“There are nine total commands and three are located in Florida. Those commands can be used as resources that we can tap into to help educate our cadets and give them experience in the fields,” he said.

Visot, before being named executive director of the new Center, held various leadership positions at USF, such as assistant director of residence halls, director of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, special assistant to the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and director of development for student and campus life.

He has degrees from Marquette University, the University of Georgia and the United States Army War College.