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Alumni Spotlight: Roger Myers, Acquisition lead for Air and Missile Defense, Army Futures Command

Above: Then-Chairman Owen Smith, General John W. Nicholson, Jr. USA (Ret.), Roger Myers, and President John Lenczowski at IWP Commencement in May 2019.

“I cannot say enough about IWP. I have learned so much more I wish I could have learned when I was younger and in the prime of my career.”
-Roger Myers, Class of 2019

Roger had 38 years of experience working in the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense when he came to IWP to pursue his Graduate Certificate in International Politics.

At the time, he was assigned to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology) (ASA (ALT)) serving as Director providing oversight on two Army Program Executive Offices: Combat Support and Combat Service Support as well as Simulation, Training and Instrumentation. Through this position, Roger provided oversight for over 300 Army Programs, ranging from artificial intelligence (AI), Simulations Systems, robotics, transportation systems, and the Army boat fleet (which, Roger noted, has even more ships than the Navy).

“For years, I had looked at other area universities, and never enrolled. It just didn’t seem to be the right fit,” he remembers.

Strolling through the Pentagon one day, Roger noticed representatives of several graduate schools. His initial conversation with Danielle Shover, the Director of Graduate Recruitment at IWP, sold him on what IWP has to offer from a national security and international policy perspective. “When I talked with Danielle and read the brochures, I knew it was the perfect fit for me – because the courses were taught by practitioners, not just academics,” he commented.

I knew it was the perfect fit for me – because the courses were taught by practitioners, not just academics.

He was drawn to study international politics in particular because he very much enjoyed working in this field during several of his assignments for the U.S. Army. The first of these involved serving with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Export and Cooperation. Here, Roger was the Western Europe and NATO Operations Policy Officer responsible for drafting and coordinating over 60% of all cooperative agreements for Western Europe and NATO with the United States Army. His interest in international policy heightened through his position as the Army Armaments Director with the Deputy Secretary of Defense – Europe and Secretary of State Ambassador for NATO. Through this role, Roger gained interest in international policy as he worked directly with individual NATO member states. He enjoyed being the voice of the U.S. at the negotiating table in his roles representing the U.S. for both NATO-Russian relations and for U.S.-NATO missile defense initiatives.

Bringing real-world experience to class

In IWP’s small classrooms, Roger’s extensive professional experience became valuable for the whole class: “In all my classes, I could take my years of experience as an operator from a Department of Defense perspective and contribute to class.”

In Islam in Contemporary Global Politics, Roger’s class discussed Islam and current geopolitics of the Middle East. This course involved realistic conversations on Islam, politics, and policy, to which Roger could relate with his experience in Afghanistan, where he spent a six-month assignment in 2016 as Senior Advisor to the USFOR-A Train and Assist Commands, East, North, & Central.

In Prof. John Sano’s course on Covert Operations and National Security, Roger said, “I was able to contribute back from my operational experience and add to the discussion.”

Also at IWP, Roger conducted a directed study with Dr. John Tierney, assessing if a border wall can be used as national security. This experience allowed Roger to benefit from one-on-one discussions with Dr. Tierney for guidance on his research. Roger also took courses with Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz on Mass Murder Prevention in Failed and Failing States and Russian Politics and Foreign Policy, which became the highlights of his education.  He comments: “I truly enjoyed coming to class with all these professionals. They made it worth my time!”

In all my classes, I could take my years of experience as an operator from a Department of Defense perspective and contribute to class.

A valuable network

Roger noticed the collegial community at IWP when he first began his studies. He remembered:

“Shelly, my wife, and I came to the first fall gathering, and we didn’t know anyone. We introduced ourselves to Dr. John Lenczowski, the President at The Institute of World Politics, and he introduced me to all of the professors. You’re not going to get that anywhere else that I’m aware of. The camaraderie, the social atmosphere, the activities, and the opportunity to participate is open to all students.”

The IWP network has also been a plus for Roger: “The networking that you develop as a student and then networking with professors and alumni after you graduate is invaluable. As an alumnus, I still see that open network.”

The value for a mid-career professional

What did Roger gain by attending graduate school after spending 38 years supporting DoD and the Department of the Army?

“What I learned at IWP has significantly enhanced my understanding of the arts of statecraft from a national security perspective, and international policy and politics,” commented Roger. He noted further:

“If you are a mid-career professional and you are considering getting a follow-on degree in the arts of statecraft, and you want to come and really learn something, come to IWP. What you learn is going to be valuable, useful, and it will make you a better person – in that you will have an edge on ground truth, regarding where information is gathered, or how it is generated. Hopefully you will improve your ability to see between the rhetoric and the real topic. The idea of following the facts is driven into every course.”

If you are a mid-career professional and you are considering getting a follow-on degree in the arts of statecraft, and you want to come and really learn something, come to IWP.

Roger believes IWP is especially valuable because of its emphasis on an integrated strategic approach to national security and international affairs: “While the Army taught me tactical and strategic skills for defense as well as critical thinking and Leadership, IWP taught me how to apply it.”

Roger noted that this integrated approach was valuable in his acquisitions work with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, and it will be particularly helpful in his next role with Army Futures Command.

Using the IWP education

“My career has come full circle,” commented Roger. Indeed, when he started out in the Army as a Lieutenant in 1984, he was assigned to go to Germany to serve as a security platoon leader for the Patriot Air Defense Battalion, which was brand new at the time.

Now, he has accepted a new role in the Army’s newest Command, the Army Futures Command, to serve as Acquisition Manager for Air and Missile Defense systems. He comments: “How many people get that opportunity to travel through a 30-plus year career touching different aspects of international security and leading and managing people, teams, and projects and come back to the beginning at the end?”

In this new role, Roger will use the integrated approach to the arts of statecraft taught at IWP: “With Futures Command in air and missile defense, we need an integrated approach of not just building our capability for the next 30 years, but a knowledge of what our adversaries are building. We need to look at whether our 30-year technology plans are in line with their 30-year technology plans, and whether we can stay ahead. We need to build capabilities that provide a peer advantage over time.”

In addition, Roger has already been bringing lessons learned from IWP to his work as a Professor of Program Management at Defense Acquisition University, where he was mentoring the next generation of Department of Defense product, project, and program managers and executives.

Looking to the future

When asked about what is next, Roger commented: “IWP feeds my passion for history, national security, and international politics. It transforms me into what I want to do beyond this job in acquisitions. As I retire again 3 years from now, I will have over 40 years of service to this country; but it’s not over. I want to be able to take what I have learned here and integrate it with other institutions. For instance, I would like to see if we can make other programs less theoretical and more practical.”

He concludes: “I am trained as an Army Ranger—100 percent and then some!  HOOAH!!”

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