Col. Robert McVey becomes the Hamilton Lugar School’s newest War College Fellow
The Hamilton Lugar School (HLS) is one of a select number of institutions with the privilege to host fellows from the US Army War College Program, which allows Army leaders to enrich their strategic thinking in an academic setting. HLS welcomed its newest fellow, Colonel (Col.) Robert McVey, who is taking classes, performing research, and conducting community outreach for the School’s Robert A. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute (REEI). Col. Robert McVey is the Hamilton Lugar School’s third US Army War College Fellow. Previously, the School hosted Colonel Steven J. Lacy and Lieutenant Colonel Angela Reber.
Col. Robert McVey joined the HLS team in June 2021. He previously graduated from the School’s Robert F. Byrnes Russian and East European Institute (REEI) in 2011. As a US Army War College fellow, McVey researches Russian strategic interests in the Arctic and also acts as an ambassador for the US army to students and faculty. The research, both quantitative and qualitative, mainly regards Russian interests and the US Army’s new Arctic strategy. Robert describes the Hamilton Lugar School as inspiring, commending the school’s tenacity for incubating global citizens and conjuring new perspectives.
“I learn as much from everyone I’m interacting with than they’re learning from me,” says McVey. “My formal research project this year is on the Identification for Russian Strategic Interests in the Arctic. In January 2021, the US Army issued a new Arctic strategy. This semester, some of my classes are on Russian interests, and how they are protecting their interests in Central Asia and the Middle East.”
McVey’s role at HLS is both an ambassador for the US army and a leader. He describes the experience as multilayered, informing his overall career. The Army leadership examines key strategic issues, tasking officers to solve problems and find clear-cut solutions. At HLS, McVey can reflect on past situations, and interact with non-army civilians, challenging him with ideas and nuanced perspectives.
“In my interactions with peers and colleagues, I’m getting to learn what their new perspectives are,” McVey says. “That really challenges me and my assumptions. And I have to either offer my perspective in a persuasive manner or maybe take the time to see other viewpoints.”
McVey has an accomplished, highly decorated career within the US Army and abroad, initially working as an Infantry Officer, Logistician, Transportation & Distribution Officer, Forward Maintenance Company Commander, Foreign Area Officer, Presidential Translator for the Washington-Moscow Direct Communication Link, Senior Defense Official/Defense Attaché at the US Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania among others. Robert has earned degrees in Political Science, Russian and East European Studies, and Logistics Management at Loyola University Chicago, Indiana University Bloomington, and the Florida Institute of Technology. He has achieved honors for his outstanding performance throughout his career including the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Valorous Unit Award, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon. After he concludes his research at the Hamilton Lugar School in June 2022, McVey will return to US Army Central headquarters and continue his work.
“I hope to continue my work on Russian strategic interests and researching how the US Army can play a role in either competing or cooperating with Russia,” McVey says. “The Hamilton Lugar School is inspiring. I think the perspectives and preparation that the current student body is getting continue to inspire me to a level of confidence that the future leaders responsible for improving our world remain strong. America’s role in the world remains strong. It’s inspired me that the next generation is ready to take the torch.”
In response to recent events involving Russia and Ukraine, Col. McVey participated in the Zoom panel discussion “Crisis in Ukraine” with a group of experts. Col. McVey spoke with Indiana University and Hamilton Lugar School professionals including Sarah D. Phillips (Professor of Anthropology and Director of REEI), Laszlo Borhi (Associate Professor of CEUS), Regina Smyth (Professor of Political Science), Padraic Kenney (Professor of History), Elizabeth Dunn (Professor of Geography and Director of IU Center for Refugee Studies) and Iryna Voloshyna (Ph. D. student of IU Folklore and Ethnomusicology). In addition to scholars and students at IU, REEI engages with other communities in Indiana and beyond.