Thanks to Hollywood’s depiction in movies, most people think a U.S. Marshal’s job is solely to pursue fugitives. As the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency, marshals do much more. Thanks to recent training that prepared him to coordinate military-level responses to disastrous events, Deputy U.S. Marshal Ryan Filson — assigned to the Evansville Office — is a perfect example.
Taking nearly a year away from regular duties, Filson attended The Command and General Staff College. Based in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the college’s mission is to educate, train, and develop members of the military and government agencies for unified land operations in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational operational environment; and advance the art and science of the profession of arms in support of Army operational requirements.
Timothy O’Hagan, director of the inner-agency program at the Command and General Staff College, says, “The college provides students with the knowledge of critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving. Our inner-agency student population varies year to year and is usually between 25 to 30 students.”
The Command and General Staff College originally was a military post known as Cantonment Leavenworth and was established by Colonel Henry Leavenworth on the Missouri River on May 8, 1827. The cantonment was the first settlement in the Kansas territory and is the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C.
It was not until 1881 that General W.T. Sherman directed the establishment of a new school at Fort Leavenworth that would quickly become The Command and General Staff College.
As an inner-agency student, Filson worked in a staff group of 16 people. The school predominantly is a requirement for field grade officers in the military, so Filson had much to learn.
“When we did group work with sometimes up to 32 people, they had scenarios where a fake country invades the Caucasus region and we dealt with the whole process of force flow and pushing back invasions,” says Filson. “The exercises broke down every little detail.”
Besides acquiring leadership and command skills, Filson also took electives that helped him better
understand international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and defense support for civil authorities to respond to catastrophic events.
Originally from Protection, Kansas, Filson started his career as a state trooper in his home state in 1990, moving his way up to federal government special agent in 2000. In 2007, Filson lateraled to the Marshal Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, and then transferred to Anchorage in 2010, becoming a supervisory deputy.
“My first arrest in Alaska was at 43 degrees below zero. We had a warrant for the guy and it was so cold that when I took my gloves off to pat him down I couldn’t feel my hands. The other officers had to pat him down but they told me, ‘Since you can’t feel your hands, we won’t put you on the wall of shame this time,’” he says, recalling his colleagues joking about his blunder.
Filson transferred to Evansville in 2012 and has been here ever since. As a Marshal, some of his main duties include apprehension of federal fugitives, transportation of federal prisoners, seizing property acquired by criminals through illegal activities, protection of the federal judiciary, and operation of the witness security program.
Filson has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in both criminal justice and corrections, and is finishing up his last semester for his master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri. The Command and General Staff College coincided with his master’s degree program and counts toward some of his credit hours.
“Ryan was an excellent student, very personal, very engaging, and we got along well,” says O’Hagan. “Although the college is a little more difficult for inner-agency students, we have not had an inner agency student who has not been successful.”
Filson says he has no future plans for school beyond his master’s degree, which he will finish in October. After completion of The Command and General Staff College, Filson says he was glad to be back home with his wife and daughter. Though he missed his family, he adds being on campus alone allowed him to focus on his work.
“I had to spend so much time reading. I would usually get out of class around 3:30 p.m. depending on the day, and no matter what time I got out, I would go back to my room and start writing a paper or reading until 10:30 p.m., at least,” says Filson.
It wasn’t all hard times and studying, though. Filson stayed on post in a building with two Army officers and socialized with fellow students whenever he had free time.
“I became good friends with the Vietnamese officer who lived down the road. We were the two odd people out sometimes because he is an officer from another country and I had no military experience,” says Filson. “His family wasn’t with him, either, and he would cook Vietnamese food for lunch and I would come over. Some of it was unique; we had pig’s tongue once.”
Filson says he keeps in touch with many of the students and teachers from the college.
“It was an excellent college and a unique experience,” says Filson.
For more information about the U.S. Marshal Service office in Evansville, call 812-465-6437 or visit usmarshals.gov.