Washington Embassy Orientation & Washington Seminar 2023

From 30 October to 3 November 2023, the NESA Center for Strategic Studies ran a Washington Embassy Orientation (WEO) combined Washington Seminar at the Army Navy Club in Washington D.C. The WEO engaged 48 participants from 25 countries and the Washington Seminar had 53 participants from 26 countries.

A group photo of the Washington Embassy Orientation Seminar on Tuesday, 31 October 2023.


The week-long orientation was titled, “This Town: Working in Washington.” The program was targeted towards foreign diplomats and defense attachés who have recently arrived to work at their Embassies in Washington, D.C. Even experienced professionals who have previously served in the United States often find that they must learn how to adapt to the style and processes specific to the current actors in government. The seminar provided participants with the knowledge and resources necessary to navigate the U.S. government. These professionals were provided with insight into the policy-making process, discussions about current events with prominent experts, and opportunities to meet new colleagues from other Embassies. 

Clark Adams (on the left) during Session 2 with Prof. David Des Roches (on the right).


The orientation consisted of ten sessions on the U.S. national security structure, branches of government, and the organization of both the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Complexities of the policy and decision-making processes in the U.S. government were also reviewed. Course Directors Dr. Hassan Abbas and Professor David Des Roches moderated the seminar along with other NESA Center faculty. NESA Center leadership and faculty spoke during the seminar, including COL David Lamm, USA (Ret.) (Acting Director), Dr. Roger Kangas (Academic Dean), Dr. Hassan Abbas (Distinguished Professor, International Relations), Dr. Gawdat Bahgat (Professor), David Des Roches (Professor of Practice), Dr. Jennifer Jefferis (Adjunct Professor), Dr. Michael Sharnoff (Associate Professor), and Brianne Todd (Professor of Practice). External expert speakers included Clark Adams (Director of Central Asian Policy, OSD), Ambassador John Desrocher (Deputy Commandant/ Visiting Professor, Eisenhower School, National Defense University), Charles McLaughlin (Professor of Practice, College of Information and Cyberspace, National Defense University), Honorable Ed Royce (Policy Director, Brownstein), Dr. Denise Natali (Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University), Dr. Kim Cragin (Director and Distinguished Research Fellow, Center for Strategic Research, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University), and Kimberly Dozier (Analyst, CNN Global Affairs).

The Washington Seminar was held mid-week on Wednesday, where Dr. Hassan Abbas discussed with Dr. Denise Natali and Dr. Kim Cragin. The discussion centered on “Reality Casts its Vote: The Continued Importance of the Middle East in U.S. Policy.”

Dr. Denise Natali (on the left) spoke during the Washington Seminar with Dr. Hassan Abbas (to her right) and Dr. Kim Cragin (to the far right).


Towards the end of the seminar, discussions encompassed best practices for participants to proficiently articulate their national interests, interact with media outlets and think tanks, and optimize their time here in Washington, D.C. As the seminar reached the end, attendees acquired the status of NESA alums, granting access such as invitations to exclusive events, participation in alum reunions, and academic resources.

During the last day of the seminar, a NESA Center panel gave their final remarks with Dr. Hassan Abbas (on the left), Dr. Michael Sharnoff (center-left), Dr. Roger Kangas (center-right), and Dr. Gawdat Bahgat (on the right).


Reference the last Washington Seminar held in August 2023.

Washington Seminar – August 2023

Reference the last WEO held in October 2022.

Washington Embassy Orientation Seminar 2022


The views presented in this article are those of the speaker or author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.