Wednesday morning began with a visit to the Washington headquarters of the defense contractor Northrop Grumman. Our host, Vice President for Capture and Proposal Operations, Gary Jack, really rolled out the red carpet for us — we even had a parking space reserved for us!
An engineer in the Innovation Center, Kelvin Franklin, demonstrated for the Fellows some of the advanced technologies currently being developed at Northrop Grumman regarding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Ambassador Marisa Lino then discussed with the students her distinguished previous career in the Foreign Service and the nature of her current work in the private sector. She was followed by Ben Abrams, who discussed the relationship between Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Congress, explaining with a smile that while “lobbyists” sometimes get a bad name, they serve a valuable and necessary function.
After a quick lunch, in the early afternoon we stopped by the offices of the Washington Bureau of NBC News. Our host, Ellie Hall (’07), showed us around the studio and introduced us to several of her co-workers, including the Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, Albert Oetgen; the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief, Ken Strickland; and NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Andrea Mitchell. It was fascinating to be a “fly on the wall” as the line-up for that day’s Nightly News was finalized, as well as to see the studio where one of the Nixon-Kennedy debates took place and where even today Meet the Press is filmed.
After our visit to NBC we rushed across town to the Ronald Reagan building for a meeting with officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Our host, Tom Baltazar, is currently a Senior Advisor in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs. After a presentation from Anne Ralte, a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director of Human Resources, the students enjoyed a lively discussion about the challenges of international development with Mr. Baltazar and Ms. Ralte.
That evening, over an informal dinner of Swedish cuisine, students met with a Director in the Eurasia Group’s Global Energy and Natural Resources department, Greg Priddy. Mr. Priddy explained how political risk consulting works and gave the students insight into careers, and life in general, “inside the beltway.”
Our final stop for the trip was the Pentagon. Our host, Lt. Commander Chris Schwarz, discussed with the Fellows his career so far as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, as well as his present work in the Air-Sea Battle Office. Not only did the students learn a great deal about the Navy, and the Department of Defense in general — they also received a great introduction to the sheer size and scale of the Pentagon itself!
Well, that’s it for the inaugural International Relations Fellows tour of the Washington foreign policy establishment. Stay tuned to this blog for further updates regarding the activities of the IR Fellows, including retrospective comments next week from Fellows themselves about what they learned during their week in Washington!