Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense
Progressive Defense Official
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A longtime fixture in Democratic foreign-policy circles, Bishop Garrison served in the Obama administration, advised Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and joined the Biden transition team as a counterterrorism-policy adviser.
But it wasn’t until this year that Garrison really broke new ground. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appointed him to the newly created role of senior adviser on human capital and diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to promoting diversity within the officers’ ranks, Garrison heads a working group aimed at countering extremism within the military’s ranks, and he also sits on the Pentagon’s anti-sexual-assault commission.
Born into a family with a history of military service, Garrison graduated from West Point and served two deployments in Iraq as an Army officer. Following his time in the Armed Forces, the third-generation veteran pursued a law degree at the College of William & Mary and transitioned to the private sector.
For the past four years, Garrison has continued working in the progressive foreign-policy space at the Truman National Security Project and Human Rights First. He’s written about the impact of racial justice on national security, and in 2018 he cofounded the Joseph Rainey Center, named after the first Black member of the U.S. House, to advocate for diverse voices in public policy.
Approach and Motivations
Excerpted from Bishop’s Vignette profile
Progressive who seeks to align national security strategy with Democratic domestic policy goals and ideals, focusing on improving human-rights policy and addressing equity issues within defense institutions
- Third-generation veteran whose commitment to improving diversity in the defense apparatus is informed by his father’s experience with discrimination as a soldier in the Vietnam War; father turned down promotion in the military because of his belief that men of color were not valued equally
- Approaches foreign-policy discussions through a progressive lens that balances national defense with goals of inclusion, multilateralism, and global stability
- Views the military as a “bastion” of freedom, justice, and self-determination, and seeks to strengthen the national security community’s commitment to equality by improving hiring and promotion processes; suggests that improving inclusivity in the military will increase cohesion and strength among the armed services
- Believes the success of foreign policy is inextricably linked to domestic social-justice movements, and has stated that the U.S. cannot “preach freedom” without closely examining racism within its borders
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