Emergence Alumna Making a Difference: Using a Mothership to Improve Logistics and Mission Effectiveness

Emergence 1902 alumna Alexis Wilde, Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) with the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

Center of Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) Emergence 1902 alum Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Alexis Wilde with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), currently stationed at USCG Pacific Area in the Office of Cutter Forces, reflected upon her previous experiences within the USCG as she prepared for Emergence 1902. In her previous roles assigned to Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) STRATTON and CGC ACTIVE, she conducted counter-drug operations throughout the Eastern Pacific Ocean (Ecuador/Columbia to the Mexico/United States border). The vastness of the area of operation made logistical support and multi-national cooperation essential to mission success. Addressing those challenges became the focus of her Emergence change initiative project.

LTJG Wilde sought to capture the unique ideation and implementation aspects of the Emergence program to think differently about the difficulties faced in her previous tours. Utilizing a commercially contracted vessel as a mothership for logistics support (berthing, refueling, etc.), detection and monitoring, and training, the USCG and partner nations could increase the reach of patrol boats well-beyond the littoral zones in the effort to interdict drug-trafficking throughout the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Beyond allowing for increased range and time on-station, LTJG Wilde’s concept additionally reduces force protection and operational security issues tied to ship movements in and out of foreign ports.

Encouraged to apply to Emergence by Commander Melanie Burnham (USCG), a CHDS Master’s alum in cohort NCR1503/1504, LTJG Wilde viewed the Emergence experience as something beyond any traditional training opportunity. “I did not fully comprehend how unique of an educational program Emergence would be… the faculty are simply exceptional as are the students…the high level of classroom discussions really do not occur outside of the environment created by CHDS,” LTJG Wilde commented. Throughout the six-month program which combines network-based learning with two, one-week in-residence sessions, Emergence students cover a variety of topics including elements of organizational change ranging from ideation, through gaining organizational support, and into implementation. LTJG Wilde stated, “The program really gives you tools for conceiving, pitching, and implementing the types of changes that typically reside at the executive level.”

LTJG Wilde on patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

For LTJG Wilde, the next steps for her project tie directly into the executive level. “The Pacific Area Maritime Forces divisions have been huge supporters. I will soon be briefing our Pacific Area Operations leadership on the high-level concepts surrounding my project…the level of coordination to make this work is vast and, clearly, this isn’t something we can simply implement overnight and without significant support and buy-in from our Joint Interagency Task Force, US Naval Forces Southern Command, US Fourth Fleet and international partners.” Although complex from an acquisition and funding perspective, LTJG Wilde’s concept represents the type of thinking and ideation that embodies Emergence. “We have a real opportunity to make a greater difference when it comes to drug interdiction operations…we must rise to the challenge of ever-changing tactics and push the capabilities of assets available to become less predictable and more effective. We can change how we conduct operations to stem the flow of illicit contraband into our country,” LTJG Wilde noted.

LTJG Wilde discussed the phenomenal bond and networking established during Emergence stating, “Emergence allowed me to meet and interact with others in fields and jurisdictions that I would never have met professionally…I gained a real understanding of their role in protecting the homeland security enterprise…Emergence is a one-of-a-kind program.” Looking forward, LTJG Wilde is thinking of the CHDS Master’s program following a future tour afloat. She commented, “I have no doubt that I want to return to the CHDS environment, faculty, and cohort mates following my next tour; this experience really sparked a desire to continue to look at challenges and obstacles we face in our organizations with a critical lens and find solutions.” Undoubtedly, with her drive and passion for looking beyond traditional solutions to complex problems, LTJG Wilde will be revisiting CHDS and the Naval Postgraduate School in the years to come.