By Kellie O’Boyle
I first heard about the Regional Leader Development Program-Pacific (RLDP-P) from my Professor of Military Science (PMS) in the fall after I commissioned in May of 2017. The program, first started in August 2017, was designed to “provide service members the education, training, mentorship and regional experiences sooner, beyond the traditional institutional military basics, yielding strategic, adaptive, and professional leaders.” Although there was no rank requirement during my first inquiry to the RLDP-P team in 2017 and 2018, Captain and above is now the preferred range. This article will discuss my experience in the virtual RLDP-P seminar and how the program assists in developing mid grade leaders.
In 2019, I Corps received limited slots for competitive officers to attend the next resident cohort of RLDP Dense Urban Studies (DUS) in New York and Seoul, South Korea. Eventually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resident course was canceled and two online seminars were created for distance learning regarding the Arctic strategy for senior leaders and near-peer competition in the Indo-Pacific, respectively. I was able to participate in the later of the two seminars from September to December of 2020.
The seminar, officially titled “Near-Peer Competition in the Indo-Pacific,” was executed as a partnership with the George Washington University National Securities Studies Program through the Elliot School of International Affairs.
Consisting of extensive readings, lectures, and group work, the online seminar challenged preconceived notions and supplied recent and historical examples to develop the cohort. Weekly topics ranged from gray zone competition in the South China Sea to forging strategic narratives and coalition building strategies.
Overall, the the course was highly beneficial and I present the following three takeaways: (1) course seminars with General Officers granted insight into the mind of senior decision makers, (2) lectures with esteemed professors, experts, and authors provided varied perspectives on U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific and how that applies to midlevel leaders, and (3) developing junior and mid level leaders in regional specialties benefits both the individual participating and their units.their units as well.
As a part of the online seminar, RLDP invited General LaCamera to speak to the participants about a variety of topics including building partnerships and interoperability, the importance of intelligence officers honing their craft as intelligence officers, and the importance of action by leaders. GEN LaCamera highlighted the importance of creating lasting relationships with our allies through various avenues, such as 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade’s advising of partners within the INDOPACOM AOR. He also spoke about the importance of intelligence driving operations and the critical nature of developing S2s to be S2s, and highlighting the need for broadening in academia, practical areas, and agencies. GEN LaCamera touched upon mid level leadership in the Army and the responsibility of leaders to act and utilize emotional intelligence. Overall, hearing him speak gave insight into top Army priorities (People First, Winning Matters), but also to his personal thoughts and goals for leaders within USARPAC.
The readings and the speakers chosen by RLDP and GWU were outstanding. The expertise of the professors and authors throughout the seminar elevated the experience overall. Dr. David Kilcullen’s seminar regarding his latest book The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West was a great discussion regarding unconventional warfare and the future of U.S. military strategy in the face of new emerging threats. Additionally, Dr. Victor Cha’s seminar regarding strengthening traditional and new security partnerships within Asia illuminated potential undermining factors when building new relationships in the region.
Overall, and as a mid level leader who felt more knowledgeable after this seminar, I believe the course benefited me, but more importantly, my current and future organizations. At the time of the course, I was working in the I Corps HHBn and then transitioned to the I Corps G2 where I focused on regional issues in the Indo-Pacific. Although I had previous knowledge and experience, the RLDP-P seminar reinforced my knowledge, but also provided me additional historical context and equipped me with additional insight for more adept analysis overall.
In summation, the RLDP-P seminar series assisted junior and mid level leaders in developing at least a base understanding of issues and politics within the Indo-Pacific region. During my short stint in the Army thus far, I have been told that with time and experience, you gradually start seeing the bigger moving pieces of the larger picture. This course was beneficial in defining what the bigger picture is and the complexity of the situation at hand. I highly recommend the online lecture series, if available, for future participants. Currently, RLDP-P’s virtual seminars are offered twice per Fiscal Year and slots are made available to USARPAC’s subordinate units via the nominative process at the unit level.
Captain Kellie O’Boyle is an Active Duty Military Intelligence Officer. She formerly served with the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion and America’s First Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.