Omaha, Neb. -Ten U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) civilian employees were selected to participate in the 2016 USSTRATCOM Strategic Leadership Fellows Program as part of a University of Nebraska program to enhance the management skills and technical expertise of civilians as they progress to strategic supervisory roles.
U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander, provided the keynote speech and joined senior command officials, civilian personnel, and academic professionals in recognizing the 2016 Fellows during a kick-off event at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Mammel Hall, Jan. 23.
“We are here at UNO to kick-off our third 13-week fellowship program,” Haney said. “This is such an important part of professional growth and development for our civilians, who make up more than 60% of my headquarters. Our civilian workforce provides the ‘institutional memory’ which is so vital to my headquarters’ continuity.”
In his remarks, Haney applauded the Fellows for getting through the selection process and thanked the faculty members who will lead them. He also charged the students with six tasks; learn from each other, help grow a “culture of learning” at USSTRATCOM, lead from wherever you are, get comfortable being a continuous learner, develop a network of peers and maintain a questioning and inquisitive attitude.
“I am confident in your success and look forward to hearing about your studies,” Haney said. “The wealth of knowledge you will bring back to USSTRATCOM, and to your workplace, will be invaluable.”
During the 13-week program, the Fellows will learn mission-oriented skills from national security and defense experts from the University of Nebraska in a classroom-based, hands-on environment. According to Dr. Gina Ligon, co-director of the Strategic Leadership Fellows Program, the curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including cryptography, IT innovation and international relations.
“I am so excited about all that the Fellows will learn this year,” Ligon said. “The USSTRATCOM Fellows get exposed to leading academics across the University of Nebraska system on topics that they may not have the regular opportunity to dive into during their daily jobs. There is just no program like this in the country that allows for a survey of such diverse issues in such a focused and concerted way.”
The Strategic Leadership Fellows Program was launched in March 2014 as an initiative under the University of Nebraska's National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI), one of only 13 Department of Defense-sponsored University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs) in the nation.
Through feedback from prior Fellows and mentors, the program has evolved to meet the needs of a changing environment.
Dr. Louis Pol, Dean of UNO’s College of Business Administration, said he knows the program is going “very well” because of the feedback he and other staff members received from students and USSTRATCOM officials.
“At the end of the day, we can teach all the courses we want; we can have a good sense or feeling that the students have learned,” he said. “But the real impact is when they take what they learned and brought that back to solving problems at [US]STRATCOM.”
Dr. John Christensen, UNO chancellor, described the Fellows program as “absolutely incredible,” adding that he believes it should be a model for other universities.
“I would not only recommend that, I would encourage it,” Christensen said. “It reinforces the notion that collaborative efforts among talented people can bring us to a situation where we can address opportunities and challenges.”
Dr. Christensen also noted how this year marks the first time that all four University of Nebraska campuses will be involved in the Strategic Leadership Fellows Program.
“This is not just a [UNO] campus program, this is a program which incorporates the university system,” he said. “We have the [University of Nebraska Medical Center], [University of Nebraska at Lincoln] and [University of Nebraska at Kearney] involved. Bringing all of that expertise together to think about the future and how we might make positive changes is remarkable.”
The kickoff of this year’s Fellows Program comes roughly two weeks after Haney and leaders at his command hosted Dr. Hank Bounds, University of Nebraska president, and other university leaders to discuss strategic deterrence, cyber responsibility and collaborative research efforts.
“Last week, it was my pleasure to host Dr. Bounds and about 22 others from the University of Nebraska at my headquarters,” said Haney. “ I want to publicly salute the University of Nebraska at large for your continued partnership and contributions to national security.”
The University of Nebraska delegation visit was coordinated through USSTRATCOM’s Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance, which started in Oct. 2014 to stimulate new thinking and develop future generations of deterrence practitioners. Since then, 20 local and national universities have joined the alliance, including multiple University of Nebraska campuses.
Haney concluded his speech by thanking UNO and its faculty and mentors for “fostering a high-velocity learning environment and for helping to create leaders who not only understand the challenges associated with the world we live in today, but who can develop and apply solutions.”
“As Albert Einstein reportedly said, ‘education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think,’” Haney said.
The 2016 USSTRATCOM Strategic Leadership Fellows are:
- Mr. Brent Backman, Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike
- Mr. Jeffrey Braxton, Plans and Policy Directorate
- Mr. Phil Hacker, Joint Exercises and Training Directorate
- Mr. Jason Lang, Mission Assessment and Analysis Directorate
- Mr. Kevin Lloyd, C4 Systems Directorate
- Mr. Joseph Murphy, Capability and Resource Integration Directorate
- Mr. Larry Plowman, C4 Systems Directorate
- Mr. Brandon Pollett, Mission Assessment and Analysis Directorate
- Mr. Larry Roberts, Capability and Resource Integration Directorate
- Mr. Marcus Thies, Plans and Policy Directorate