BANGKOK -- Students participating in the Regional Leader Development Program -- Pacific gathered in Bangkok Sept. 8-11 during the 2019 Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference/Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar/Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum.

The RLDP is a strategic leadership studies program offering 3-6-week courses that educates mid-grade Army, joint and multi-national leaders (commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and civilians) on regional complexities associated with the Indo-Pacific Theater.

"When you deploy to a region you are a strategic asset," said Lt. Col. Eric Marshall, 130th Engineer Brigade deputy commanding officer. "You might not be a nuclear weapon, an air defense weapon, or a fighter, but you are a person that can cultivate a relationship with another culture."

RLDP encompasses an academic and immersive study approach to broaden leader's understanding of the unifying threads across the tactical, operational and strategic levels.

This program will give leaders insight on how to operate in the Indo-Pacific region and allow them to use that insight later in their careers, Marshall added. This major initiative, started by Gen. Robert B. Brown, USARPAC's commanding general, will help prepare leaders serve in positions of greater responsibility throughout the region.

RLDP is broken down into two phases. Phase one encompasses a classroom setting where students gain the institutional and organizational knowledge. Phase two consists of regional immersion where students are given the opportunity to work with allied and partner countries.

"You will not be able to get this knowledge at a tactical level," Capt. Jacky Kwan, USARPAC G35 planner said.

Kwan added that this program broadens his perspective to think strategically, broadly and jointly.

"It's very helpful to hear the General Officers talk not just on the U.S. side but also General Officers on the international side," Kwan said.

The best thing about being in the RLDP is being able to build trust, sustainable strategy and relationships with the people in it, he said.

Kwan explains that his group had a broad range of occupations that brought different perspectives to the table such as a dentist or a food inspector. The RLDP gave him the opportunity and chance to learn from each other and to be critical in each other's analysis.

"How I see a problem may not be the same problem as the food inspector's," he added.

More than 40 students and mentors participated in this year's RLDP and twenty-one of them visited Bangkok for their cultural immersion phase.

In Bangkok, RLDP participants attended the 2019 IPACC/IPAMS/SELF hosted by the Royal Thai Army and U.S. Army, discussed regional topics and issues with Gen. Brown, and visited cultural sites to include the Grand Palace.

"I am going to apply this knowledge to my everyday job and will think about how I can leverage the strategic goals of Indo-Pacom and how it applies to my job," Kwan said.