The Robert and Marion Oster National Security Affairs Fellows (NSAF) Program began in 1969 and has been a vital part of the Hoover Institution ever since. The NSAF program offers representatives of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Department of State the opportunity to conduct independent research on topics relevant to their respective branches of government and to the practice of diplomacy. Admission to the program is based on direct nominations from each governmental branch. 

The program now has 197 distinguished alumni including 16 general officers, 2 flag officers, 13 U.S. Ambassadors, a member of Congress, and a national security adviser (among them John Negroponte, John Abizaid, H.R. McMaster, and Representative Chris Gibson.)

Officially, the NSAF program is designed to provide a high-ranking member of his or her military service or government agency with extensive experience in U.S. foreign policy implementation, an opportunity to spend an academic year at Hoover to conduct independent research. Unofficially, the NSAF program is much more: it is an opportunity for them to lead, learn, stretch, and recharge. NSAFs play an essential role at Hoover and across the Stanford community, inspiring the next generation to public service and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students – most of whom have never interacted with members of the U.S. military or State Department before.

In 2013, Hoover started a formal NSAF undergraduate mentorship program that pairs each incoming fellow with 3-4 of Stanford’s best and brightest undergraduates. Admitted through a competitive selection process, the student mentees are keenly interested in international politics but have had almost no experience with the U.S. State Department or military. For NSAFs, the students provide a node of engagement and valuable resource to get involved in life at Stanford. For the students, NSAFs provide the mentorship and leadership training of a lifetime. This program has already energized students to organize their own ten-week lecture series with Hoover NSAFs and other fellows, as well as, an “alternative spring break” trip to military facilities and political offices in the Washington, DC area to get a better understanding of civil-military relations.

NSAFs find their Hoover year a valuable opportunity to learn from leading thinkers across disciplines and fields, both at Hoover and across the University, by auditing classes, attending seminars, and participating in workshops, roundtables, and other special events with members of Congress, foreign leaders, senior U.S. executive branch officials, and academic experts. Stretching beyond operational responsibilities within their home institutions, NSAFs have found their Hoover year a unique opportunity to develop lasting professional networks and personal relationships with Silicon Valley industry leaders, former government officials on campus, and Hoover fellows.

Finally, one of the most important elements of the NSAF year is time for each fellow to recharge and reconnect with family and Hoover recognizes that each NSAF is supported by extraordinary family members who have also dedicated their lives to serving our nation.

Hoover Institution National Security Affairs Fellows Mentorship Program

The Hoover Institution’s National Security Affairs Fellows Mentorship Program is a yearly program for Stanford undergraduate students that begins in September of the academic year and is offered as a one-unit course (Public Policy 100) each quarter. The program provides a unique opportunity for Stanford students with a deep interest in international affairs to engage with distinguished practitioners in the field.

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