After several years overseas, Lieutenant Colonel Angela Reber came to the Hamilton Lugar School in fall 2019 as its inaugural Army War College Fellow in order to study US-Russia relations and prepare for the next phase of her career as a senior Army officer. Having focused on the tactical and operational levels as a young officer, she knew that more would be expected and needed of her as she gained seniority.
Reber, who has two MA degrees—one in Political Science and a second in Organizational Change—believes her year of research, dialogue, and reflection in the HLS Russian and East European Institute will help her for the rest of her career. As she moves into a strategic role, she says her work now is “to influence, allocate resources, to help communicate the Army strategic vision in line with national security policy.”
Editor’s note: LTC Reber spoke as a private individual and not a representative of the Army. Her views are her own.
At HLS, Reber studied the Russian economy, the socio-cultural aspects of Russian society, and minority populations in Russia. She also audited classes on China and Iran in order to get a fuller understanding of the political and economic landscapes of nations considered the US’s geopolitical rivals.
The unique opportunities at the Hamilton Lugar School, she believes, helped provide her with a perspective and level of understanding that is required in Army intelligence. “As a military intelligence officer my responsibility is to really provide alternate points of view and to elevate the policy debate, to ensure that we are challenged in our understanding and thinking,” she says.
Elucidating these points of view is the best way to ensure that the commander or decision-maker can make the best choice for national security.
Reber’s time at HLS afforded her many occasions to expand her thinking and broaden her point of view. She provided briefings, led debates, attended campus events such as America’s Role in the World®, and met a number of high-level guests, including former Secretary of Defense and REEI alum Dr. Robert Gates and the former Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats. As if all of that wasn’t enough, she also improved her Russian language skills.
Her professors and colleagues at REEI also challenged her. “[Being part of REEI] really allowed me to discuss points of view outside the military culture or common in Beltway culture,” she says.
Reber’s deep experience abroad added nuance and personal experience to many of her classes’ debates. Having lived in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, and Germany, she could speak to national power, security studies, and US policy powerfully based on her tenure in the Army. She learned much from her courses, but her experience elevated the discourse as well.
In her research, she focused on the country’s deterrence strategy of Russia and the necessity of diplomacy to prevent Russia’s creeping influence from dominating nations like Belarus and Ukraine. Considering the limitations of the US military, she considered how to work with NATO partners and invest in allies’ capabilities so that they can, she says, “perform the same functions while limiting our forward stationed forces in Europe.”
Her next stop is Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she will be using her operational and organizational experience to teach the next generation of officers.
Living in Indiana was a significant change for Reber and her sons, who had never lived in the US. But using the fellowship to study in Bloomington and at the Hamilton Lugar School made a big impact on her.
“I’m thankful of the opportunity and the people here that have shared their experience, challenged me in that effort, and made this such a great and wonderful community for my family and myself,” she says.
The Hamilton Lugar School benefitted greatly from Lieutenant Colonel Reber’s research and contributions to the community. The problems she devoted herself to are complex and ambiguous, but the fellowship gave her the space and time to understand them better, advancing the causes of national security and peace.