Army Intel officer Dr. Richard Combs to speak about relations between the U.S. and Russia on Oct. 10 at Lindsay museum at 7 p.m.
By Paul Myers
LINDSAY – Russia has dominated the foreign policy conversation in the United States for the lion’s share of this decade. Americans saw the Russian incursion into the Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, involvement in Syria and the undoubted meddling in the 2016 election. The Lindsay Cultural Arts Forum is asking where it all went wrong? And they are bringing a man who could contribute an answer.
Dr. Richard Combs served three tours at the US Embassy in Moscow. In the State Department he served as principal deputy director of the officer of Soviet Union Affairs and later as director of the office of East European and Yugoslav Affairs.
While his extensive experience in Russian relations has kept him outside of the States, Combs is a Visalia native. As a fourth generation Visalian Combs attended the College of the Sequoias before moving on UC Berkeley where he earned his MA and PhD in political science. Lindsay Cultural Arts Forum member, and Lindsay resident, Chuck Sheldon said he was the one who managed to find Combs earlier this year when he attended a Great Discussion series at COS in the Spring.
“I went to this discussion and as fate would have it that he’s a Visalia boy of all things,” Sheldon said.
Combs went on to study Russian at the Army language school in Monterey and later at the Army’s advanced Russian studies center in Garmisch, Germany.
In all Combs spent 33 years in the federal government. He served three years in the Army Counterintelligence Corps, 23 years as a foreign service officer with the State Department specializing in Soviet and Eastern European affairs, and then seven years as foreign policy advisor to Senator Sam Nunn. Senator Nunn served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee during Combs’ time with his office. After his years in the Senate Combs spent three years as a program director and research professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, before retiring in Three Rivers.
While he may have found his long-term home in the mountains nearby, he is still keeping tabs on what is going on over sees. The Lindsay Cultural Arts Forum says Combs gets his news every night watching Moscow television which gives him a perspective of the Russian citizen’s attitudes as well as the intent of the ruling power to influence that attitude.
“He decided to retire in Three Rivers and now he’s a community resource. What could be anymore in the news than the Russian situation. I think his insights are terribly important, and Russian is front and center,” Sheldon said.
The Forum goes on to note that Combs was a part of the events that defined the American, Soviet conflict in the 1980’s and 90’s. The finer parts of those conflicts being the Berlin Wall, the Reagan-Gorbachev dialogue and the Yeltsin years. For Sheldon, the real life account of those years is worth sharing.
“We think it’s a good type of conversation to have. I think it’s good for the community to get together over things like this,” Sheldon added
Combs is slated to speak at 7:00 p.m. the Lindsay Museum at 165 N. Gale Hill on Oct. 10. Doors will open at 6:30 for beverages and snacks.