FORT KNOX, Ky. - About 30 captains got an introduction to leadership at a strategic, or enterprise, level this summer, recently graduating from the UNC-IDB Strategic Studies Fellows Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C., offered by the Institute for Defense and Business.
IDB administers the program working with the UNC Partnership for National Security, Indiana University, the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. Triangle agencies are collaborations among the universities in the Research Triangle cities of Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.
At the conclusion of the course, the captains presented their work on an applied strategic group capstone project to a panel of select faculty.
Members of the panel included Brig. Gen. Kimberly Field, the deputy director of Strategy Plans and Policy under the Army's Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for G-3/5/7 (Operations and Plans), as well as retired Ambassador David C. Litt, an alumnus of UNC who served as the American ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 1995 to 1998 and spent much of his time as a career diplomat in the Middle East before becoming the director of IDB's Center for Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction. Also on the panel were IDB President Mark Cramer and professor David Schanzer of Duke University and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security Studies.
The Commander's Initiatives Group at the U.S. Army Human Resources Command administers the application process for this new program, which is only in its second year. Officers in SSFP are KD-complete captains, that is, captains who have already served in the requisite number of "key and developmental positions" for that rank - what used to be known as "branch-qualified" captains. To be considered for the program, they were nominated by the first colonel in their chain of command and their records were evaluated by a selection panel at HRC.
The Army has been developing an initiative to expose its officer corps to more than just their specialties in order to develop officers who can operate up to and including the strategic, or "Big Army," level, said Lt. Col. John F. Leide, strategic initiatives officer with HRC CIG.
Normally, officers don't experience this level until much later in their careers.
"The first time they may work at 'Big Army' level is when they go to the War College as senior lieutenant colonels," Leide said. "By introducing our officers to how things work at the strategic, or enterprise, level earlier in their careers, it comes as less of a shock when they return to that level later in their careers."
Filling the gap
Currently, the traditional strategic-level programs are the Congressional Fellowship and JCS/OSD/ARSTAF Internship Program, which offers internships with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Army Staff. (These programs are offered through HRC Officer Personnel Management Directorate's Broadening Opportunity Programs.)
These strategic-level Broadening Opportunity Programs generate two challenges.
First, only a very limited number of openings exist each year, and, second, they pull the officers out of the operational Army for an extended period while they're in the institutional Army. Officers in either of those two programs have to be able to find the time to do it without offsetting their career timeline dramatically, Leide said.
"We can't send everybody to be a JCS intern or a congressional fellow because we need the same quality of officer to be small-group instructors at Army school houses and observer-controllers at the combat training centers," he said.
SSFP was developed as a pilot to mitigate both of those challenges, Leide said.
"Rather than having our officers take a year of graduate school and two years of utilization, we allow them to attend a five-week, intensive academic program focused on national-security issues and strategic thought," he said.
Saving the Army money
Since this program is temporary duty, or TDY - an extended business trip - instead of a permanent-change-of-station move to Washington, D.C., with its high basic allowance for housing, the SSFP price tag (which includes travel and tuition expenses) comes in at only about $15,000 per officer.
"In terms of what we're getting out of this - the quality of instruction - I think it's really a bargain," he said.
After the first of the year, you can find out more about the summer 2014 SSFP by contacting Leide at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-613-6382.
The graduating class of the 2013 UNC-IDB Strategic Studies Fellows Program included the following officers, three of whom were promoted to major while attending the program:
1. Capt. Erich Almonte, operations officer and assistant professor of military science at George Washington University ROTC;
2. Capt. Alexander Bedard, company commander, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division;
3. Capt. Steven Benedetti, aide-de-camp, 704th Military Intelligence Brigade;
4. Capt. Tom Beyerl, APM Maneuver Targeting Systems, Program Executive Office Soldier;
5. Capt. Elizabeth Bickett, company commander, 634th Brigade Support Battalion, 33d Infantry Brigade Combat Team, National Guard;
6. Capt. Abra Crosthwaite, battalion operations officer, 589th Brigade Support Battalion;
7. Capt. Anthony Fuscellaro, assistant S-3/operations officer, 3rd Aviation Combat Brigade;
8. Maj. Thomas Garner, graduate student, Georgetown University Student Detachment;
9. Capt. Brennan Goltry, company commander, 1st Special Forces Group;
10. Capt. Agustin Gonzalez, company commander, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division;
11. Capt. Zachary Heinrich, operations and plans officer, U.S. Army Special Operations Command;
12. Capt. Daniel Huff, heavy weapons company commander, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division;
13. Capt. Clarence Langley, aide-de-camp, Signal Center of Excellence Command Group;
14. Maj. Stephen Lucas, project manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh;
15. Maj. James Machado, academic instructor, U.S. Military Academy;
16. Capt. Chad Maddox, operations officer, 5th Ranger Training Battalion;
17. Capt. Michael Munroe, commander, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division;
18. Capt. Jonathan Peterson, air officer, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment;
19. Capt. Caleb Phillips, chief, Commander's Initiatives Group, U.S. Army Armor School;
20. Capt. onstance Quinlan, executive officer, U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command, Honolulu;
21. Capt. Donald Riddle, operations officer, 385th Military Police Battalion;
22. Capt. Matthew Shoenfelt, tactical operations officer, Headquarters, 82nd Airborne Division;
23. Capt. Joseph Steadman, troop commander, 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment;
24. Capt. Nicholas Steele, command operations staff (S-3), 5th Battalion (General Support), 159th Aviation Regiment, at Fort Eustis, Va., under Army Reserve's 11th Aviation Command at Fort Knox;
25. Capt. Benjamin Summers, graduate student, Harvard University Student Detachment;
26. Capt. Michael Taylor, battalion operations officer, 225th Brigade Support Battalion;
27. Capt. Jason Wagner, operations officer, U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command;
28. Capt. Alexander Werner, company commander, 1-16 Infantry, 1st Infantry Division; and
29. One captain from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.