FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Twenty-seven top performing company-grade officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers at the joint level, from all services across the Pacific region, and one Department of the Army (DA) Civilian, attended and completed the 8th Theater Sustainment Command's Phase II of the Young Alaka'i (YA) Leader Development Program.

Phase II's theme, "National Level Immersion and Exposure," took place 8 - 13 November in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding national capital region.

Young Alaka'i's second phase was a busy six days emphasizing national level agencies and strategic polices that are applied to the Indo-Asia Pacific region, and provided an introduction to the whole-of-government concept while increasing interagency, intergovernmental, and interdepartmental competency.

"The most valuable takeaway was being able to see how policy and decisions are made at the highest levels within our government," said Cpt. Jonathan Jin, 303D Ordnance Battalion, 8th military Police Brigade. "Being here in Washington, D.C. during Veterans Day and election week was just an amazing experience."

The cohort visited and received training at the Pentagon, United Nations Information Center, East-West Center, National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, Department of State, the Rayburn Building, the National Capitol Building, Georgetown University and the Eisenhower School of National Security and Resource Strategy at the National Defense University.

Dr. Satu Limaye, Director of the East West Center in Washington D.C, discussed Asia-Pacific trade and security relations with the group and shared some of their relevant studies and projects.

"Interaction with the Young Alaka'i group was very worthwhile for me," he said. "As the leaders, they asked tough and probing questions about our country's trade and diplomatic relations, and the value of those engagements to our country's interests. Such efforts are mutually beneficial and I look forward to hosting the next delegation of the young Alaka'i group."

"Hands down the most influential exposure of my career," said Cpt. John Servidio, 84th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade. "This training removed a lot of ambiguity from my career path and instilled a large amount of reinforced pride and drive to be a part of strategic-level leadership."

Navy Lt. Rebecca Haws, United States Forces Korea, enjoyed learning how the United States contributes to the United Nations mission and how the system works for such drastically different partner nations.

"Familiarization with organizations, agencies, and academic institutions will help me as a junior officer to understand the Indo-Asia Pacific as well as make future personal career decisions," Haws said.

The students were treated to a long list of professional subject matter experts, including Dr. Sorin Lungu, a professor of the Department of National Security and Industrial Base from the National Defense University, who spoke about national defense in the Pacific Region, and Mr. David Maxwell and Dr. Tom McNaugher, professor and the director, respectively, from the Center for Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University who educated the group on the northeast and southeast Asian Theaters from both Geo-Political and Historical perspectives.

"I plan on talking to my Soldiers and peers about the complexities within the Pacific area of operations and why it is so important," said CW3 Glen Butler, a Targeting Officer with 25th ID. "I believe that by providing the "so what" of where our soldiers are serving it gives them additional motivation and an increased sense of value for their service here."

The plan for Phase III is for students to travel to three countries within the Pacific Region in the spring to participate in broadening seminars, meet with government, military, business, and academia officials, and to use their training from phases I and II to better understand regional issues.

For more information on upcoming iterations of the Young Alaka'i program, contact the Young Alaka'i program manager Capt. Monica Rivera at monica.i.rivera4.mil@mail.mil. Applicants must have their chain of command's endorsement to attend. Coverage of the program can also be found on the 8TH TSC Website at https://www.army.mil/8thtsc, www.facebook.com/8thTSC and on twitter at https://twitter.com/8thTSC.