Collaboration, negotiation, contemplation, connection…all hallmarks of the Advanced Security Cooperation course held at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. One hundred twelve U.S. and international Fellows from 34 locations took part in this course’s latest iteration (ASC 16-2) Sept. 22 to Oct. 26.
The five-week ASC is an executive education program enabling mid-level military and civilian leaders to deepen their understanding of security issues within political, socio-economic, defense and environmental contexts. The course’s primary intent, according to course manager Dr. Virginia Bacay Watson, is to help “Fellows develop a common understanding of the security threats and challenges in the region and to find ways to enhance networks of cooperation.”
ASC 16-2 Fellows learned through a combination of 24 plenary topical discussions, 25 elective titles and several group interaction seminars. They also took part in exercises that capped each of four curriculum modules. Each exercise built upon the previous one culminating in an Oct. 20 to 21 inclusive negotiations challenge that served as the course’s capstone event.
The exercise called for Fellows to divide into several groups representing government and civil stakeholders in a fictional nation impacted by climate change damage to an agricultural region. With the promise of millions of dollars in aid from a private organization, the teams developed a prioritized list of measures after working through organizational differences. They then presented their recommendations to a faculty member posing as the nation’s prime minister.
The ASC curriculum prepares Fellows for such exercises through courses that equip them with the latest information on the Asia-Pacific’s various sub-regions and on key topics, such as terrorism, economics and maritime security. For example, among lecture topics was “Media and Security,” in which faculty member Shyam Tekwani addressed how traditional and social media impacts governments’ policy decisions, particularly as they apply to terrorism and conflict.
Huong Le Thu, a research fellow of Southeast Asian Studies with Singapore’s Yusof Ishak Institute, related the curriculum provided a valuable learning experience. “I am an academic. As you know — academics — they work in their own world and have access to research, data, studies. But this was wonderful for me to engage with security practitioners (from) really different fields and different regions.” She added the course was the “exemplification of multilateralism,” challenging Fellows to come together on collaborative projects and learn from shared perspectives.
The course challenged Huong Le Thu and other participants to accomplish Fellows Projects, which enable them to carry lessons learned into their workplaces. Fellows use these projects to tackle real security challenges throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Watson highlighted three team projects taken on by cohorts from the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (improving the nation’s handling unexploded ordnance), Vietnam and ASEAN (both looking to aid the fight against human trafficking).
This iteration of ASC featured the largest female attendance in the Center’s history. Forty-one women took part, making up 37 percent of Fellows.
Participants were from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and New Zealand. They also hailed from Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, the United States, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.
ASC is one of six formal courses at DKI APCSS. The Center is a Department of Defense institute that addresses regional and global security issues. Military and civilian representatives, most from the United States and Asia-Pacific nations, participate in a comprehensive program of executive education, professional exchanges and outreach events, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The Center supports U.S. Pacific Command by developing and sustaining relationships among security practitioners and national security establishments throughout the region. DKI APCSS’ mission is to build capacities and communities of interest by educating, connecting and empowering security practitioners to advance Asia-Pacific security. It is one of the Department of Defense’s five regional security studies centers.
Since opening in 1995, more than 9,500 alumni representing over 122 countries and territories have attended DKI APCSS courses and workshops.