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Policy Office Presents Nitze Award to Iran Expert Bryan Segraves

June 30, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Bryan Segraves, the chief of the Iran team in the Pentagon's policy office, recently received the Paul H. Nitze Award for Excellence in International Security Affairs.

A man stands on a field with a flagpole and the Washington Monument in the background.
Bryan Segraves
Bryan Segraves, the chief of the Iran desk, stands on the Pentagon parade field, June 28, 2021. Segraves received the Paul H. Nitze International Security Affairs Award. It was the first time the award has been presented in four years.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210628-D-BM568-1006

Mara Karlin, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, presented the award to Segraves. It was the first time the award has been presented in four years.

The award is named for one of the "wise men" of national security. Nitze co-chaired the Strategic Bombing Survey after World War II and saw the danger posed by the former Soviet Union. He authored the now-famous National Security Council Paper 68 that provided the blueprint for U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. Nitze served as the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 1961 to 1963 and Navy secretary from 1963 to 1967. He went on to be the deputy defense secretary from 1967 to 1969. The Navy named the USS Paul H. Nitze after him in 2005.

The policy office instituted the Nitze award in 1995. It is given to career employees who best emulate Paul Nitze's "professional excellence, devotion to duty, and significant contributions to international stability and security," Karlin said.

Segraves, who graduated from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, was surprised when Karlin presented the Nitze Award to him during an office all-hands meeting. 

Segraves joined the office in 2018 as the director for the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula and then moved on to the director of the Iran team. Iran's nuclear program continues to cause concern around the world, as does its support to extremist groups that act as Iranian proxies — including Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

An aerial view of the Pentagon.
Aerial View
An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 11, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210512-D-BM568-1287R

"I've actually been the director for a little over a year," Segraves said in a short interview. "Before that, I was in the same office; I was the director for the [Arabian] Gulf team. So, it's definitely been [an] interesting change between the two administrations."

The Iran team provides some continuity between the way things were tried or done in the previous administration. They provided historical knowledge to the new team. This provides the context for which they need to make the decisions today, he said.

The Middle East is a complex net of relationships, and his previous jobs at the DOD, the National Security Council and at the Defense Intelligence Agency helped prepare him for the challenges Iran poses to U.S. policy. These jobs also provided him with an interagency view of American foreign policy that has been very helpful. 

"Bryan has an in-depth knowledge of the complex issues surrounding Iran and its effects throughout the region," Karlin said. "He has a way to explain these complicated situations clearly and succinctly. Bryan is an invaluable adviser to senior Defense Department officials on this crucial area."

Karlin went on to say that Segraves is collaborative and diligent and "a delight" to work with. "These are all attributes that past recipients of the Nitze Award epitomized, and that he has demonstrated," Karlin said.