U.S. Navy Lt. Ryan J. Sylvester, judge advocate assigned to Defense Service Office North, recently completed the Summer Immersion portion of the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction’s (WMD Center) Program for Emerging Leaders
(PEL) at National Defense University
(NDU). He was selected for this program as part of the seventh PEL class of 25 members, which has representatives from across the services and the U.S. Government.
This year Summer Immersion included a week of briefings by NDU faculty, National Security Council staff, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Joint Staff, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Energy, Congressional Research Service, and a site visit to the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).
"PEL’s Summer Immersion was very enlightening and it was an incredible opportunity to network with seasoned professionals in the field of national security and join a cohort of similarly interested professionals," said Sylvester. "One of the consistent themes from the week was hearing about the whole-of-government approach to resolving the recent Syrian chemical weapons issue. It is one thing to reach agreement for the chemicals to be removed but equally impressive was learning about the practical solution, the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System
(FDHS), to actually neutralize the threat of these chemicals. It took less than 6 months to develop, fabricate, test, and deliver the FDHS and it was an honor to have met some of the people on the ground at the ECBC who developed it."
PEL is a three-year program that starts with the one week Summer Immersion in the first year and then an annual winter workshop and other activities throughout the remainder of the three-year period. The application period for the program generally opens in November with a deadline in February each year. Applicants must be U.S. government employees (GS-11, GS-12, or GS-13) or uniformed services officers (O-3 or O-4) with job responsibilities related to national security and an interest in learning about weapons of mass destruction and related issues. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens and possess an active SECRET clearance.