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Face of Defense: Officer Strives for Excellence in Ph.D. Program

By Army Staff Sgt. Jared Crain U.S. Army Central

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SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C., June 1, 2017 — In December 2011, the Army chief of staff directed the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Combined Arms Center to look at different options for producing strategic planners and future senior leaders through a doctorate program.

Col. Oscar Doward, Jr., commander, 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, U.S. Army Central, gives a lesson to students on African-American Soldiers and their participation in World War I at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.  Doward is one of 60 officers participating in the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program that helps produce strategic planners and future senior leaders through a doctorate program. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Crain)
Army Col. Oscar Doward Jr., commander of U.S. Army's 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, gives a lesson to students on African-American soldiers and their participation in World War I at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Doward is one of 60 officers participating in the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program, which helps to produce strategic planners and future senior leaders through a doctorate program. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Crain
Col. Oscar Doward, Jr., commander, 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, U.S. Army Central, gives a lesson to students on African-American Soldiers and their participation in World War I at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.  Doward is one of 60 officers participating in the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program that helps produce strategic planners and future senior leaders through a doctorate program. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Crain) USARCENT Colonel striving to be the best and brightest of the Army
Army Col. Oscar Doward Jr., commander of U.S. Army's 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, gives a lesson to students on African-American soldiers and their participation in World War I at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Doward is one of 60 officers participating in the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program, which helps to produce strategic planners and future senior leaders through a doctorate program. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Crain

The School of Advanced Military Studies developed the Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program, or ASP3, and began enrolling students in a pilot program in August 2012.

Army Col. Oscar Doward Jr., commander of U.S. Army Central's 2503rd Digital Liaison Detachment, is one of 60 officers currently participating in ASP3. 

"Applying for the program was an opportunity for me to earn a [doctorate], a desire I’ve always had," he said. "I also saw it as a great opportunity to have an effect on the strategic policy level."

Developing Strategic Planners

The program is designed to develop field-grade officers as strategic planners and future senior leaders through a combination of practical experience, professional military education and a doctoral degree from a civilian university in a field of study related to strategy.

Military officers also will study history, strategic theory and the practice of strategic planning at the School of Advanced Military Studies, located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Before arriving at U.S. Army Central, Doward spent the last two years studying at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, completing the requirements for a doctorate except for his dissertation. He is writing his dissertation on African-American officer development and evolution in the Army during the 20th century, focusing on the period between World War I and the Korean War. 

Current Duty

Doward has been in command of the 2503rd DLD since October. The first stateside all active-duty detachment of this type, it is composed of functional cells that replicate warfighting functions. Each cell complements an Army battle command system. 

Upon completion of his command assignment, Doward said, he will work on his dissertation, submit a draft and defend his thesis to faculty and committee members in the same field who will read the dissertation and make suggestions for revisions and improvements. 

"If I receive approval for my dissertation, I plan on having it published into a book," the colonel said. 

From start to finish, officers selected to participate in ASP3 can expect to spend as many as six years earning their degree and working in strategy-related developmental jobs. Graduates of the program can expect to serve in key planning positions with the Army, various Defense Department activities, the White House national security staff, the intelligence community, State Department, Congress, the combatant commands, civilian think tanks and military schools.

The program is great for bright officers who are willing to excel to the next level and still have the opportunity to both command and pursue a Ph.D., Doward said.