Top Secret 2013: Challenges to National Security in a Global Society

Top Secret 2013: Challenges to National Security in a Global Society

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Patricia Guidetti

TWC’s week-long Top Secret Academic Seminar proved to be both an action-packed and enlightening experience for the 70 students and faculty members, from 22 different universities across the country, who were in attendance. Led by Dr. Gale Mattox, Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy, this year’s theme was, “Challenges to National Security in a Global Society,” and students had the opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective into a wide range of issues pertaining to national security.


The seminar kicked off on the morning of Monday, May 20th with a brief orientation and a keynote address from Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. In his presentation, Dr. Korb spoke to students about the emerging threats to U.S. National Security and fielded questions from students on a wide variety of issues such as:


  • North Korea
  • Cyber security
  • Drone attacks

After the sessions on Monday, students broke out into their small groups and ended the day with a special bus tour of the city on a picture perfect day. Students made stops at several Washington, D.C. sites like the United States Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.


Center for Strategic and International Studies

Tuesday, May 21st began at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, with over 100 additional cyber security industry members. The day included networking and lectures focusing on various cyber security issues. After a keynote presentation from David DeWalt, Chairman and CEO of FireEye, and John C. Inglis, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), participants delved deep into two sessions revolving around combating advanced attacks and cyber-espionage. In two separate sessions titled “Identifying the Threat” and “Stopping the Threat,” a wide range of experts from all walks of the cyber security field gave unique perspectives and answered questions from an extremely knowledgeable audience.


Drones and Terrorism Policy


On Wednesday, May 22nd the focus shifted to drones and terrorism policy. The extended morning sessions allowed students to hear from impressive speakers on current threats to national security:


Council on Foreign Relations Site Visit


In addition to the focus on drones and China, students visited the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) for an afternoon site visit. While at CFR, students heard from Scott Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on U.S-Korea Policy. Snyder not only gave students a view into U.S.-Korea policy but also provided a firsthand account of what it is like to live abroad and shed light on how the cultural differences affected his lifestyle and work. An evening reception at the University Club was the last item on the agenda. Participants were addressed by Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Chairman for Defense of Democracies and Former Director of the Central Intelligence. One of the more favored presentations of the week, Ambassador Woolsey answered questions regarding challenges he faced as CIA director.


National Security Issues in Europe and Iran


Thursday’s attention turned to overseas topics as experts covered national security issues in Europe and Iran. Top Secret participants heard from speakers like Dr. Dieter Dettke, Adjunct Professor of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, who addressed topics in Russia while Ambassador John Limbert, Transformation Chair of the U.S. Naval Academy and Former President of the Foreign Service Association, discussed his experience being held hostage in Iran. Additionally, Greg Theilman, Senior Fellow of the Arms Control Association, spoke about Obama’s second term pertaining to arms control. In order for students to understand that there are two different viewpoints to every issue, students attended site visits later that day to both the Israeli and Egyptian Embassies in hopes that they could compare and contrast the answers to the questions that were asked of both speakers.


Department of State


The final day of programming brought students to the Department of State. Participants heard from two impressive speakers in regards to issues pertaining to Africa as well as refugee challenges concerning Syria. Dr. Reuben Brigety, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Simon Henshaw, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, dove into these lesser talked about national security issues giving students a new perspective on what precisely could be defined as a threat.


The following 22 universities attended the Top Secret Seminar:


You can see the albums from the Top Secret Academic Seminar on our Flickr channel:


  1. Top Secret Seminar: Day 1 | Orientation, Faculty Introductions and Speakers
  2. Top Secret Seminar: Day 1 | Bus Tour
  3. Top Secret Seminar: Day 3
  4. Top Secret Seminar: Day 3 | Reception at the University Club
  5. Top Secret Seminar: Day 4

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