June 20, 2016
CNAS 2016 Tenth Annual Conference: 1LT Andrew Bacevich, Jr., USA, Fellowship Presentation
SHAWN BRIMLEY: Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for your attention and thanks for coming here today. My name is Shawn Brimley. I’m the executive vice president here at CNAS. We at CNAS are very proud of the role that we play in promoting the careers of tomorrow’s national security leaders. Adjusted for size, CNAS has placed a greater percentage of its young analysts in the government service than any other think tank in Washington. This mission for us is not an afterthought, but rather it’s essential to our DNA. It’s part of who we are.
One of the most significant things we do at CNAS is to annually award one of our top young scholars the Lieutenant Andrew Bacevich Jr. Memorial Fellowship. And we’ve put together a short video that can explain to you better than I could the fellowship and why we at CNAS take it so seriously. So if you could run the video please.
(Begin video segment.)
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, my wife and I have three daughters. We had one son. He was the third of the four children. And he was a good boy. And we loved him dearly. As my son matured and he’s began to work and indeed to include his time in the Army, I got a sense that he was developing a very powerful shrewdness, an ability to see through pretense. I had a sense that applying that shrewdness, that deeper understanding of events was something that he found very satisfying. Being able to see beneath the surface of events can enable you, could have enabled him to make a real contribution, to make a difference.
MS. FLOURNOY: This was a young man who was just beloved by everyone who served with him and who had aspired to have a future career in public service in Washington. And we just felt that we wanted to honor him and we wanted to do that by lifting up other young people who had that same commitment to courage and integrity and public service that Lt. Bacevich did.
MR. : So when I was awarded the Bacevich Fellow, the family had provided us this picture that we used for the first time it was awarded in June of 2007. And I felt that it was important for me as the first Bacevich Fellow to have that picture. And so that picture, I printed out, I had it printed and had it framed for myself to put on my desk. And that picture followed me and it will follow me for the rest of my career. And for me it’s a constant reminder of what national security decisions means and the importance of getting it right, and the importance of not being flip and cavalier about weighing use of force decisions that can ultimately result in people losing their lives.
MS. : So I always had this idea that I wanted to come to CNAS and the Bacevich Fellowship is part of that consideration. I get to work in a really collaborative environment where I’m constantly learning. Junior researcher can be able to engage in the policy conversation at a higher level during their time here.
MR. : What makes the Center for a New American Security so unique and such an exciting place to work is that from the foundation of this organization there’s a focus on the next generation of national security leaders. And that focus is embedded in the model that we say to ourselves all the time. We’re an institute of futures not formers.
MR. : The Bacevich Fellowship is one of the most important things that’s ever happened aside from being married and having a child. And I don’t say that lightly. Not a week goes by where I don’t look back at the times and experiences I had at CNAS and the experiences that are afforded to me by the Bacevich Fellowship. And without those, I know for a fact I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I’m very proud of those accomplishments, but I’m also just gratefully honored and humbled by the opportunity to have served as a Bacevich Fellow during a very formative period in my professional life.
MR. : Bacevich Fellows have started to – have started to be present in all the different elements of statecraft. And I think what that means to me is that, you know, as a aggregate class of Bacevich Fellows, we are in our own little way, you know, living and having the career, the careers that maybe Lt. Bacevich would have had. And so I’d like to think that it’s a good tribute to him.
MS. FLOURNOY: You can imagine the very first time the award was given, in June of 2007, we had the Bacevich family with us. And it was a very emotional event. I think everybody on the stage was in tears over the course of the ceremony, if you will. It’s just been a wonderful honor for us to be able to use the Bacevich name to lift up these talented young people and help them launch their careers in public services.
MR. BACEVICH: The initiative for creative the fellowship in my son’s name was entirely the work of CNAS. It wasn’t something I suggested. It wasn’t something I would have dared to suggest, but I can tell you that my family was deeply touched at this remembrance of our son, my son, and that we remain grateful for what CNAS has done.
(End video segment.)
MR. BRIMLEY: Thank you. And thank you to all the folks that were involved in making that video possible. As the video described, for the past nine years, the Bacevich Fellowship has been awarded annually to a young CNAS analyst whose performance, professionalism, and dedication to public service most honor, we believe, the memory of Lt. Bacevich. And we’re so pleased to have Professor Bacevich here with us. Thank you, again, Sir. You’ve been with us every single year. This is our 10th award of this fellowship. Along with several previous fellows, both on stage and in the audience, to recognize this year’s recipient.
So let me take a minute to introduce to you Nick Heras. Nick came to CNAS in 2014 as a research associate in our Middle East program. He came to us having worked at American University and the National Defense University, and having traveled very widely throughout the Middle East. Having been closely connected to CNAS since its inception and having had the honor of being the first Bacevich fellow, I can tell you that Nick is among the most deserving of recipients for this fellowship. He has that combination of raw intellect and work ethic that points to a successful career as an analyst. He also has the all too rare qualities of humility, creativity, and vision that clearly mark him as a future leader.
And finally, he has a foundation rooted in selfless compassion, respect, and importantly, good-natured cheer that make him a special colleague and a good friend to all of us. And all of these qualities together make him an obvious choice for the Bacevich Fellowship, as these are all qualities that Lt. Bacevich had in abundance as well.
So in enduring recognition of Lt. Andrew Bacevich, his exceptional commitment to the service of our nation, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Nick Heras, the 10th Lt. Andrew Bacevich National Security Fellow. (Applause.)
NICHOLAS HERAS: Thank you, Shawn. Thank you Shawn for your always thoughtful leadership within this great organization and for your commitment to mentor and to empower the rising generation of U.S. national security leaders.
I would like to express my gratitude to my CNAS family, my excellent and sharp-minded colleagues, who challenge and inspire me to be a better analyst and a better person. I want to thank my wife, Vanna (sp.) for her steadfast support, for continued good humor, and her love.
And to Dr. Bacevich, I want to thank you for honoring all of us for being here today and for helping us somberly but also joyfully bear witness to the memory of your son. Lt. Bacevich’s desire to serve his country beyond the battlefield, his dream of building a career and making an impact on the design and execution of U.S. national security policy is alive and flourishing.
Over the last decade, since the establishment of the 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich Jr. Fellowship, nine highly intelligent, hard working, and deeply thoughtful individuals have honored his memory. They’ve honored his memory by making this fellowship the premier pathway for young professionals in national security policy to live out the dream of its namesake.
Lt. Bacevich’s spirit and determination to overcome his obstacles on his road to the service of his nation imbues us all. I am therefore humbled and honored to receive this opportunity to serve as the 10th Bacevich fellow.
Perched here in Washington, D.C., it’s all too easy to get lost in the whirl and the rush of crafting strategy that can ultimately call on men and women to risk their lives on behalf of policy that we deem to be in America’s interests and its values. It is all too easy to forget that there’re real people who are asked to carry out these policies in dangerous places and in ambiguous circumstances. And just like Lt. Bacevich, they will only bear the burden of executing the policy prescriptions that are crafted here in Washington, D.C. And they are the first to suffer the consequences that result from these policies.
Therefore, this fellowship is a formidable challenge. It is a trumpet call to avoid grandiosity. It is a warning shot to think through as much as humanly possible the real world consequences of our policy on real life people. It is a test to be ever mindful and respectful of the real and lasting human costs the national security policy prescriptions can have. The debate over when and by what means United States should use military force to shape global events has consequences now and for future generations.
As the careful custodian of this fellowship, of this dream given form, and in my role as a mentor to others, I pledge that I will always be mindful of my duty as the Bacevich fellow, my duty to remember those who bravely bear the real world consequences of policies enacted in the name of American security. Thank you. (Applause.)