Last week, Australia lost a friend. Shawn Brimley, who passed away following a short but brave battle with cancer, worked tirelessly to modernise the US defence establishment – a central pillar for regional stability and, by extension, Australian national security.
Shawn was a naturalised US citizen – he was Canadian by birth. Perhaps because he was an immigrant, “he really believed in the power of American leadership and America’s unique role in the world” said Derek Chollet, his former boss in the Obama White House.
In 2007, Shawn was a founding member of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington DC. Joining others from the venerable Center for Strategic and International Studies, he, along with his colleagues, sought to develop defence and foreign policy that was forward thinking and, as importantly, practical.
Shawn had his first chance to apply his ideas when he joined the Obama administration in 2009. Starting in the Pentagon, he wrote a good portion of the 2010 Quadrilateral Defense Review – a congressionally-mandated study on US Defense objectives and threats to national security. Later joining the White House National Security Council, Shawn was a major architect of the 2011 announcement to rotate US marines through Darwin. On leaving the administration in 2012, he could easily have joined the defence industry or a major consultancy. Instead, he returned to and remained at CNAS.
Read the full tribute at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.