Ambassador Reuben E Brigety II grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of a physician and an educator. Growing up in a Navy town, he was exposed to the military, and at age 13, he considered going to West Point, but by age 14, he decided the Naval Academy was the route for him. Arriving at Annapolis on July 9, 1991, he vividly remembers the smell of “white works,” a midshipman utility uniform, and taking the oath in Tecumseh Court. As a Plebe, he learned important lessons about character that have remained with him ever since. In rapid succession, he served as the Command Sergeant Major for the Brigade of Midshipmen, the Plebe Summer Regimental Commander, and the Brigade Commander. During his time in leadership positions at the Academy, he dealt with turmoil in the aftermath of the USNA ’94 cheating scandal, including the reassignment of Admiral Lynch and the return of Admiral Larson to help right the ship. He decided to branch submarines, but immediately upon graduating from the Academy, he attended the University of Cambridge in England, where he earned a Master’s degree in international relations. After serving in the Navy, he entered the academic and public policy arenas, working for NGOs (non-governmental organizations), academic institutions, advocacy groups, and the federal government. He considers service to his country and fighting for human dignity to be the common thread of his life’s work.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences at the Naval Academy, and his service to the nation (and the world). He discusses his role in the Middle East and Africa, and contextualizes American foreign policy in those regions, stating that it is important for the U.S. to remain engaged in support of the ideals on which the country was founded. He describes his relationship with Wesley Brown, USNA ’49, the first African-American graduate of the Naval Academy, and how his role as the Brigade Commander illustrated the importance and strength of diversity at the Naval Academy. Finally, he reflects on his vision as the Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, and what his service in the Navy means to him.