Exploring Security and Geopolitical Challenges facing the United States

This course introduces participants to regional security and geopolitical challenges, alternating annually between the different  U.S. geographic combatant commands.  These challenges are viewed and analyzed through the framework of U.S. national security strategy and global interests. It begins by exploring overarching issues in U.S. foreign policy, from the interagency process to the meaning of hard, soft and smart power and introduces participants to major debates and themes in American strategy, as described in key documents such as the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance and the National Defense Strategy.

This year’s iteration is centered on the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the Central and South American region (Latin America). It delves into a variety of issues that will challenge American policymakers in Latin America in the coming years. Course participants will come away with a better understanding of the regional security environment, the way that military power fits into a larger approach to dealing with key challenges, and the possible role of special operations forces in addressing these issues.



Key Topics

  • National Security Apparatuses and Inter-Agency Processes
  • National Security Strategy and Defense Strategy
  • US Security Interests in Latin America
  • Economic Insecurity & Contributing Factors
  • China and Additional Influence in the Region


Learning Objectives:

After successfully completing this Program, participants will:

  • Understand overarching issues in U.S. foreign policy
  • Have a firm introduction to the unique characteristics of the Latin American region through a historical context and learn the corresponding frictions accompanying this cultural and governmental framework
  • Understand U.S. policy in the region
  • Hone critical thinking skills by applying the course information to predict future challenges in the region
  • Devise a complete U.S. strategy for maintaining and leveraging partnerships in specific  Latin American countries


  • Expand your understanding of obstacles in U.S. foreign policy
  • Apply critical thinking to your area of work

Participant Profile:

Career Levels of 0-2 to 0-4, W-1 to W-3, E7 to E-9, GS11-GS-13. Early Career Professionals and Private Industry.


Hal Brands, Ph.D.

Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Tim Nichols, MBA

Duke Sandford School of Public Policy

Program Staff:

Mike C. Bogdahn, USMC Depot Deputy Commander (Ret)

Vice President, Strategy & Business Development

Clark B. Streets

Associate Program Director


Professionals and organizations interested in this program should contact IDB’s Customer Advocate, Mike Bogdahn at or (760) 577-8324 for enrollment information.

What to Expect:


This program consists of nine highly interactive synchronous sessions, once per week with asynchronous work in between, and includes both practical exercises and a final presentation.

Participants can expect to spend two hours a week in class and 1 – 2 hours a week in preparation for pre-reads and discussion questions. The last two weeks, there will be an additional 2 hours to prepare for the Capstone Project briefing.