NEWS | April 11, 2019

USINDOPACOM Hosts U.S. DoD Operational Gender Advisor Course at University of Hawaii’s East-West Center

By Petty Officer 1st Class Robin Peak U.S. Indo-Pacific Command 

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) completed their 2nd Operational Gender Advisor (GENAD) Course (OGC) at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus in Hawaii, 01-05 April 2019. This was the 3rd course for the US Department of Defense (DoD), and USINDOPACOM has committed to conducting an OGC each year.

USINDOPACOM held the 1st course, 04-08 June 2018 and USOUTHCOM held an OGC in December 2018. New GENADs were trained from across all of US DoD and included two from the New Zealand Defence Force. The next course will be hosted by US Africa Command and Europe Command in Germany in June 2019.

The OGC aims to train personnel to serve as Gender Advisors (GENADs) in support of operations and exercises. The OGC also supports the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) mandate for training as required by the WPS Act of 2017, as well as the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

Maj. Gen. Suzanne P. Vares-Lum, the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), gave opening and closing remarks during the course.

“One of the most important things that I saw in this iteration is that we had representation from across the globe,” said Vares-Lum. “U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. European Command, and all the branch components, all here present will now go back and educate their commands on what this is and how it helps us win and win before fighting.”

The OGC is a five-day residential course; however, it has been designed to be fully exportable to other commands and services. The learning outcomes of the course are based on the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations and the Australian Defence Force courses to ensure interoperability.

Maj. Chris Telley, information operations officer for Special Operations Command South, was one of the attendees at the course and said, “It has been, and a fantastic and eye-opening opportunity and this training is going to change not only how my unit does business but how we plan, train, and operate in the environment.”

GENADs are critical advisors to commanders, providing expert application of how gender perspectives affect the human domain, permitting operational planners to consider a more holistic picture.

Ms. Sharon Feist, newly appointed USINDOPACOM GENAD “The OGC is uniquely relevant to today’s changing world. The OGC teaches how an inclusive approach, or a gender perspective, increases mission effectiveness, and how gender dynamics — whether we’re looking for it or not — shape much of today’s battlefield. Women, men, boys, and girls experience conflict and crisis differently, and will, therefore, respond differently — so, applying a gender perspective that factors in these dynamics is crucial to meeting the challenges of and finding new opportunities for 21st-century security.”

Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and due to events occurring in the world at that point, women’s groups came together and pushed for a gender perspective to be included in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) international peace and security agenda.

In 2000 the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security recognizing for the first time that gender inequalities exacerbated during the conflict impede the establishment of sustainable peace and development. One of the events that came out of additional guidance was the position of Gender Advisors, who provide guidance and advice to commanders on how to integrate a gender perspective into operations and missions.

“USINDOPACOM has been leading the way in this effort, and we have been working very closely with the Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense, and I am very proud of the work we have done in putting together and delivering this training,” said Vares-Lum.