The Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, in collaboration with United Nations Command, ROK-US Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea, hosted the Mobile Indo-Pacific Orientation Course (MIPOC), returning to South Korea for the first time since 2017.
From January 30-February 3, 2023, 86 Fellows gathered at the Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal Training Complex in Camp Humphreys, South Korea. Fellows came from 11 locations around the world to attend the course, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, France, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United States.
According to course manager Dr. Tim Buehrer, the mobile version of the course presented a number of benefits to Fellows. With most participants from a concentrated location, Fellows had a unique opportunity to create deeper networks to directly support their work on the peninsula.
“[MIPOC] highlighted the importance of creating a community of security practitioners within a country or even a single military command,” said Buehrer. “People tend to work within silos, and breaking down those silos is critical.”
In addition to the networking opportunities, Fellows reported that they gained a greater understanding of the complex security dynamics in the region at large. Maj. Shan Hoejgaard, Royal Danish Army, saw MIPOC as an essential training opportunity.
“I got here two months ago, and I had no former knowledge of the Indo-Pacific,” said Hoejgaard. “This course has helped me tremendously. I’ve gotten information and knowledge that I can take straight out and use in the coming months that I’m here.”
“I think the greatest value was what we’ve been calling ‘zooming out,'” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Olson, Defense Policy Officer, U.S. Forces Korea. “We’ve been focused so much here on what’s going on in the peninsula, and there is a lot to focus on. To be able to zoom out and look at the whole region and see how what we’re doing on the peninsula fits and has ramifications throughout the rest of the region is really, really helpful.”
U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer Maj. Karen Deloria stated that “the value to me in this course is really getting to understand all of the nations in this region…and what is important to them ….understanding our relationships with them ….and understanding the challenges that are, not only important to the US, but to our allies and our partners.”
The instruction centered around three themes: regional overviews, strategic approaches to the Indo-Pacific, and cross-cutting challenges and opportunities. Throughout the week, Center faculty presented information on factors contributing to the Indo-Pacific’s dynamic security environment. The lectures on cross-cutting challenges and opportunities covered good governance, economic security, cyber security, climate change, maritime security, and the impact of disinformation. The Fellows also had opportunities to attend electives to provided deeper dives on the issues.
Lt. Gen. Andrew Harrison, British Army, Deputy Commander, United Nations Command, addressed the Fellows and emphasized the importance of coalitions and the value of information sharing. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, Commander, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea, provided closing remarks to end the week.
“Within the Foreign Affairs Officer Community, this course has a great reputation. I think it’s well deserved,” said Lt. Col. Alexander Cole, a liaison officer with U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea. “I think one of the best aspects of having this course out here in Korea, as opposed to the resident course, is the ability to bring so many like-minded individuals together. As graduates of this program, [we] walk away with a very experienced, impressive network that we can call upon to work through these various challenges that we see daily.”
The Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal Training Complex was named after the former Eighth Army Commander and Chief of Staff for United Nations Command, ROK-US Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea. He was instrumental in bringing the first mobile IPOC to Korea years ago.
After the course concluded, about a third of the class traveled to Seoul for a DKI APCSS Korea alumni association event. This event brought together almost 60 alums for a chance to reconnect and network.
The Indo-Pacific Orientation Course (IPOC) provides an executive education experience for mid-career to senior-level security practitioners. The program enhances participants’ ability to engage in cooperative security efforts. IPOC offers a unique opportunity for security practitioners with an extraordinary range of professional experience, levels of education, and perspectives to engage intensively on regional security issues. The next course will take place in Hawaii in late 2023.