The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) provides deliberate, experiential learning opportunities for future leaders. The program is designed for high-potential individuals who have an understanding and appreciation for DoD’s global mission. One of the 2021 ELDP selectees – Navy judge advocate Lt. Ashley Belyea – certainly meets those criteria.
Belyea commissioned in September 2014 and currently is assigned to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) community’s Administrative Law Division, where she focuses on personnel law. Belyea and her colleagues prepare legal reviews of matters related to statutory promotion boards. In her daily work, she handles issues large and small, from a promotion selection board that might affect 1,600 officers, to an officer whose promotion might have been temporarily withheld due to a lapsed security clearance.
Belyea began her education at the University of Virginia, where she graduated in high distinction in 2006. She subsequently graduated from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy in 2011, and then from Harvard University in 2014. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar. Before commissioning, Belyea served as a law clerk on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law; taught European politics in Edinburgh, Scotland; and co-founded a youth peace building and performing arts program in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Her career path turned towards the Navy JAG Corps while she was in law school, during an internship with the DoD Office of the General Counsel. There, she worked with retired and active-duty judge advocates from multiple branches of services. Belyea was impressed by how their inter-service and DoD-wide perspective helped identify and solve issues.
In her most recent tour, she enjoyed working directly with the Fleet, serving as the deputy force judge advocate for Carrier Strike Group FIVE/Commander Task Force SEVEN ZERO. She was the primary legal advisor for 25 commands and supported multiple high-visibility investigations, including those related to the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions.
“That experience helped deepen my understanding the strategic and operational goals and challenges for the 21st century. ELDP provides a unique opportunity to continue that education in a direct way while on shore duty,” Belyea said.
Due to risks associated with COVID-19 – and because the benefits of ELDP derive largely from domestic and international travel, as well as in-person interaction with fellow participants – DoD chose to defer the program a full calendar year rather than conduct virtual site visits and conferences.
“I'm sorry to have to wait, but it is a reasonable health and safety measure that preserves the core of the program in these unusual times,” Belyea said.
Belyea will study how DoD and the branches of military services are structured at the macro level – in order to meet DoD's global mission – and at the micro level – to support the operators who are at the tip of the spear.
“I am excited to gain additional perspective on DoD-level capabilities and priorities,” said Belyea. “I am the kind of person who learns by doing, so am looking forward to the experiential aspect of the program, traveling to installations, interacting directly with operators around the world who are each working toward part of DoD's larger mission.”
“I also am looking forward to meeting and learning from fellow participants, most of whom are civilian colleagues, from different branches of service and from within DoD. Their perspectives and contributions are critical and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with them through this program at an early stage in my career,” Belyea added.
Congratulations to Lt. Belyea on her 2021 ELDP selection!