In this interview, we talk to Lucas Miller, Class of '13, about his experience at IWP and his career in politics.
Please tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in a town outside of Denver, Colorado where I grew up and lived until I went to college. I made the decision to attend Benedictine College in Atchison Kansas. Benedictine College is an institution that puts a strong emphasis on faith and leadership, qualities that I hold paramount. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to end up in Washington DC because of my intense love of politics. I started looking around at graduate schools, and a professor mentioned that I should look into IWP to continue my education.
After being accepted, attending and graduating from IWP, I am certain I made the right decision. I am now a Legislative Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary for Congressman Doug Lamborn who represents Colorado's 5th Congressional district. I am currently living in Arlington, Virginia with my beautiful wife, Billie Jean Miller.
How did you first become interested in politics/national security?
Admittedly, my love for politics came from my father. It began by listening to him and being inspired by the passion with which he spoke about agricultural issues. After forming political opinions of my own, I became determined to advance policies that, in my eyes, benefit the United States. Studying at IWP was where my passion for national security and foreign affairs was formed. After the obvious choice to blend these two passions became apparent, I began looking for work that might fit those criteria.
What does your work in Congressman Doug Lamborn's office involve? What issues do you focus on the most?
My work in the Congressman's office has evolved over the past couple of years. I started as an intern, and am currently a Legislative Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary, as well as managing two current IWP students as our interns.
Basically, as a LA, it is my job to know and understand the policy implications of a given subject. Right now, my portfolio includes health care, trade, entitlements and other various issues. I am also the Legislative Manager for the Congressman's House Sovereignty Caucus, which is a bipartisan group of Members concerned with protecting America's sovereignty. I had a unique knowledge and understanding of sovereignty issues due, in large part, to my education at IWP.
As the Deputy Press Secretary, it is my job to update social media, draft press statements, write floor speeches, attend interviews and maintain working relationships with various reporters to advance the Congressman's agenda.
What attracted you to IWP?
I'll begin by stating what didn't attract me to IWP - and that was the large volume of credits required to graduate with a Master's Degree. However, when it was clear that this is the only institution in the country that educates its candidates on both the practical issues regarding national security as well as the moral and philosophical reasons for doing so, it became an instant attraction. During the matriculation period, we were continually told that this is the reason IWP was special, but being in an atmosphere like Capitol Hill, it is abundantly clear that this is necessary now, more than ever.
What area of study did you focus on at IWP?
I graduated with a Master of Arts in Statecraft and National Security with a concentration in Intelligence.
What were the most interesting things you have learned at IWP? Did you write any papers or take any classes that you particularly enjoyed?
I couldn't possibly narrow down the most interesting thing I learned at IWP, but the best I can describe it was a truly inspiring two years. Although I am biased because of my position in policy, I think the National Security Policy Process and the Intelligence and Policy classes were two of my favorites.
I am disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to take a class from Dr. Carafano: he is widely respected, especially on Capitol Hill, and inspiring to listen to. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to listen to him speak, and I recommend that any current or future student to take his class.
Has studying at IWP changed your thoughts about national security/international affairs? If so, how?
In the simplest answer possible, IWP has taught me that the key to a strong national defense is about more than a strong military. The level that the public perception plays is pivotal, which is why graduates work so hard to positively influence public opinion.
Have your studies at IWP impacted how you approach your profession?
Although I don't handle as many national security or foreign affairs issues as I would like, I find myself using my degree in various other ways. I underestimated the usefulness of an intelligence gathering background on Capitol Hill. Open Source intelligence is one of my greatest assets when researching policy issues and have, more than once, earned praise from superiors.
However, IWP's faculty, specifically those working in the Intelligence Community, have given me great insight into how policy makers have approached the IC and how they could be better. For example, it is no secret that there are "bad"consumers (to use a phrase from Dr. Thomas) and "okay" consumers of intelligence. Rarely do you find a Member who is a great consumer of intelligence, who truly understands the IC well, and who has a positive working relationship with them. It has been a personal goal, since leaving IWP, to make sure every Member I work for is that exception. Having the ability to bridge that gap and be a catalyst for discussion is something for which I am forever grateful to IWP.
What are your plans for the future?
I'm not sure what the future has planned for me yet. As a short-term goal, I would like to work on issues that relate more to national security and intelligence. Congressman Lamborn's office has one of the best Military Legislative Assistants on Capitol Hill, Justin Johnson, and I am enjoying learning from him for now.
Above: General Raymond T. Odierno, Lucas Miller, and John Lenczowski.