by tuftsigl
Sep 15

This summer I had the pleasure of working in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy’s (OUSD-P) Middle East Division from 18 May to 28 August. Specifically, I worked with the Iraq country team, but also worked closely with members from other country teams within our office on the counter Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) mission. My team not only worked with other members of our office, but also other offices within the Department of Defense, like the Joint Staff and the Office of Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, and with other departments and agencies around the government, including the National Security Council, the State Department, the Intelligence Community, USAID, and the Treasury Department. I was able to meet and work with staff and leadership from these organizations and I believe that these interactions helped me further shape my understanding of the federal government, the national security policy making process, and my professional goals. I was also given extraordinary access to the policy making process and to leadership throughout my internship and given the same amount of responsibility as my permanent colleagues. Below are some of the highlights from my time at OUSD-P:

·      I attended tri-weekly counter ISIL interagency synchronization meetings throughout my internship and also had the opportunity to attend several Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) meetings hosted by the National Security Council Staff;

·      I participated in or led the preparation for approximately ten Congressional briefings and hearings. This preparation included writing opening statements, talking points, and read aheads for my office leadership as well as preparing the background document package and verbally briefing my leadership prior to the Hill engagement;

·      I served as a control officer for two high level political visits. This role required me to work with a variety of offices within the Department to prepare for the visit and also work with our foreign partners and our colleagues at the State Department to ensure that the visits went well;

·      I helped prepare the briefing book ahead of the Secretary of Defense’s recent trip to the Middle East. Specifically, I helped write the read ahead and talking points for his meetings in Iraq;

·      I wrote and helped to manage the response to several Congressional letters and requests for information;

·      I helped my teammates with the preparation of the Secretary of Defense for his testimony in front of the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

            These experiences were absolutely amazing and provided me the insight and the professional development that I needed this summer.

            In terms of feedback on the fellowship, I would recommend adding one or two more roundtables earlier in the summer. The two roundtables I was able to attend were fantastic and I think expanding that program next year would be extremely valuable for the fellows and alumni. I would also suggest moving the reception earlier in the summer and maybe choosing a venue that is more accessible to fellows. It was wonderful to meet everyone at the reception and after the event we had much more success in getting fellows together at the informal level, so having the reception earlier would allow the fellows to build a stronger cohort more quickly. Additionally, I think it was wonderful to be able to go out to Mr. Gilmore’s house for the reception, but it was extremely hard for many of us to make it out to Maryland by 6PM and it was really only possible because one of the DOD fellows had a car. I would suggest moving it to the city next year if possible.

            Overall, this internship was one of the best professional experiences of my career. It convinced me that I want to work in policy when I graduate in May 2016 and also provided me with the tools and contacts to make that happen. I want to thank the Rosenthal Fellowship for the opportunity to serve as a fellow this summer and for the financial support, which helped significantly in allowing me to stay at my internship for 15 weeks. I look forward to joining the strong Rosenthal alumni network and hope that I can make an impact on that community in the future.