In today’s quickly changing strategic landscape, RFG looks to expand its partnership with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the associated Center for Excellence – Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) to meet real-world challenges impacting the region. As the Indo-Pacific has risen in strategic importance and climate shocks continue to fuel humanitarian crises worldwide, partnering with USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM places RFG at the cutting edge of national security issues currently impacting the US.

RFG established its partnership with USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM in 2014 through the Student Volunteer Fellowship Program. The program is designed to engage graduate students from across the nation for a ten-week internship during which they work alongside staff within the Command on current national security issues in the Indo-Pacific. Over the past eight years, USINDOPACOM has hosted more than 15 Robertson Fellows for summer internships.

This past summer, Emily Ashbridge (Texas A&M ‘23), interned with the Command Synchronization Team at USINDOPACOM. Expanding on her background in the Asia-Pacific region, Emily said, “Interning at the Indo-Pacific Command this summer gave me an up close look at careers in public service and allowed me to contextualize my academic interests within a professional experience.” As Emily looks towards a career in government focused on the Indo-Pacific, this internship directly exposed her to government work at the center of the region she cares most about.

Given the heightened importance of the Indo-Pacific region, RFG President Geoff Robertson visited both USINDOPACOM and CFE-DM this summer to expand RFG’s partnerships with both entities. From the visit, two potential opportunities with CFE-DM were identified, one through the Applied Research and Information Sharing (ARIS) Fellowship and the other through capstone projects with RFG partner schools during the academic year. Such programs could provide research opportunities for Robertson Fellows year-round on innovative, relevant, and current issues concerning civil-military coordination to prepare for disaster management and humanitarian assistance missions.

Through the ARIS Fellowship program, graduate students are linked directly with developing operational initiatives and stakeholders to bridge the gap between academia and practice. Participation in the program would allow Robertson Fellows an opportunity to work on real-world challenges where their research will be used by planners and decision-makers. Through the capstone projects, selected students would work with practitioners, planners, and policy-makers to address current issues such as climate change, cybersecurity, and mis/disinformation.

As relationships expand with both USINDOPACOM and CEF-DM, RFG will continue to support graduate academic fellowships, government internships, and professional development on issues affecting the Indo-Pacific region. It is by bolstering these collaborative partnerships that RFG advances its mission to cultivate globally engaged public service leaders. 

Read more about Geoff Robertson’s visit in the CFE-DM monthly newsletter.