On October 26, 2012 Paula Broadwell gave a speech at the University of Denver where she had gotten a master degree. Below is my rough transcription of her speech. (It’s much quicker to read through the notes, since the speech is 45 minutes long. But you ought to watch some of the video, because it gives some intangible insights — her stiff humor, sophomoric reliance on cliches and jargon, and her ambition.)
Notes from review of video.
I had such a formative experience here (UD) and it changed the course of my career, much of which has yet to be written.
The adventure of writing this book with Gen DP
One of my favorite quotes….”I am a part of all I have met (tennyson)
Why did i join the military?
I remember in high school watching the first Gulf War ….unravel. Do you remember the Shock & Awe campaign?
That war was over in a couple of days. I really wanted to become a diplomat and get into international affairs. Wanted to understand that instrument of power.
I was kind of going through the motions…. I thought about being an ambassador
Well I was sitting in front of my Senator…. Why should I give you my nomination for the AF Academy? I’d like to instead offer you my appointment for the US Military Acad.
At the end of the day, I loved it. The most challenging experience, as you can imagine.Focus on holistic development of individual …leadership, military bearing.. Duty, honor, country.
Went off to Korea; I loved it. I just graduated… was sent to meet my unit at the DMZ, and I wanted to impress them…. Platoon of 30 men, 1 women
Went to Europe, and was assigned to the HQ of the US Army in Europe. Sr. Analyst for the Middle east in Africa. To teach Guineans how to do a s & s. on a ship that might be taken over by pirates. Went to Liberia and worked with the embassy personnel to come up with a noncombatant evacuation plan. Went to west africa and east africa opportunities that were eye opening and broadening
After that I served in Europe in various positions, and “Got into the counterterrorism world” where I’ve remained ever since. The work before 9/11 was focussed on transnational terrorism. These guys have been around for a while. But becoming difficult to start a family, so we both decided to leave active duty.
Both she and husband very career oriented. He started medical training in Denver; I went to grad school.
I thought my career is international relations and counterterrorism. Were only here in Denver a month when 9/11 happened.. I was recalled involuntarily to active duty, and sent off to join the Special Operations Command and worked on putting together terrorist targeting packages for our Special forces. So I was using All Source intelligence.
After that tour, came back to Colo, and guess what, Uncle Sam called again, and I got mobilized two different times. But thankfully it was to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force here in Denver.
Applied for one year program here. I … was very worldly, but I had no writing skills, poor communications skills
My long term goal had always been to become National Security Advisor. One yr program turned into two year program. Taught me: that instrument of power, well we can’t shoot our way, or kill our way out of every conflict. Sometimes negotiation..
Actually became an ombudsman for Harvard University. Some of the practical work we did here in Denver, negotiating with neighbors who had a barking dog conflict, helped develop skill.
Got a scholarship to travel to Middle east, to study arabic, and writing my thesis, when you can negotiate with extremists. Had opportunity to interview Jewish extremists, Hamas. Travelled all over.
Applied for National Security Education program Fellowship. Studied at Harvard Kennedy school. Where I first met Gen Petraeus in 2006; I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to interact with him
He came to speak about his counterinsurgency manual. Iraq war was at a nadir, about 120,000 [sic] US troops dying each month We needed a visionary leader. Gen Petreaus became a celebrity leader. I was fascinated with this individual, could communicate it, and oversee execution of the communication. Also to learn best practices, so we are doing no harm.
I started to work with him, not as a military officer but while I was at Harvard, I also ran theJepson Center for counterterrorism studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts, and I commissioned students to work for him in Iraq.
When he came back, the violence had subsided, and I realized that there was an opportunity to write about this transformational leader, what were the educational experiences he had at W Point and Princeton, in Haiti, in Bosnia, conducting a hunt for war criminals, that informed his decision making when he went to Iraq. More importantly , who were the people who informed him the most.
So I started to write this dissertation and had unprecedented access, Bec both from West Point, but also because we were both runners. Our first interview in person was on a run. So we went for a run, I had my recorder
Anyhow, at some point at about the 3 or 4 mile approach, he started to pick up the pace. I call it the Boiling frog approach. I decided to cut off the recorder, and race. He started elbowing me and it was over. Long story short, I did beat him, we got down to six minute mile pace, and I later found out he was going through treatment for prostate cancer.
After a year and a half, he was selected to lead Afghanistan. Was graceful enough to allow me to travel with him. I really tried to document in the book , what his principles of leadership were.
When tour was about over for him, he started to go through a transition. Alot of people didn’t understand why he wasn’t selected to head Joint Chiefs. He has a very big personality, and it was thought he might not take instruction from President.
So Petraeus suggested the CIA. He saw change toward more covert wars.
He likes to be in the arena, where the action is. Obviously, a great experience to travel with him.
I spent alot of time embedded on the company level in Afghanistan, even though I was a civilian. 7,000 lost lives, 45,000 have physical wounds. 450,000 of our troops from Iraq/Afghan with “invisible wounds” with post traumatic stress disorder of some kind.
US military thinks we will fight another conventional war; but more likely will face insurgencies and smaller conflicts, and cyber warfare.
Q: social side of what our troops do… building social structures: Ans: In Iraq, much infrastructure destroyed. We started to try to teach our soldiers to work with NGOs and other organizations to build infrastructure.
Question: With your desire to be the national security advisor, have you had chance to be with other National Sec Advisors? I was told by somebody to come up with my imaginary Personal Advisory Board, a dream sort of advisory board. People that I saw as role models. . And that would include Condi Rice, Madeleine Albright. I’ve met Albright twice, she wouldn’t remember me. Never met Condi. I think mentoring relationships are best when they are organic. Study your role models’ CVs.
Q: What are we doing to try to understand different groups — the ‘human terrain”? Very difficult to understand the human terrain in Afghanistan. Also, when you’ve been at war for 30 years, you’re entire society has PTSD.
Q: Gen Patreus in his new role has a very difficult situation in Benghazi: Answer: The challenge has been the fog of war. Greater challenge is that it’s turned into political hunting season. The ground forces at the Benghazi CIA annex were requesting reinforcements; they were requesting the CINKS in extremis force , a group of Delta force operators– they could’ve come and reinforced there at the annex. At the CIA annex they had taken a couple of Libya militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to get those prisoners back. . The challenge for Gen Patreus is that he can’t communicate with the press.. There were demonstrations in 22 countries around the world…. we thought it was somehow tied to the demonstrations in Cairo.
Q: Sexual assault – armed forces