NDISC Spotlight: Ryan Spees ’23 | News | Department of Political Science



The Notre Dame International Security Center (NDISC) prides itself on providing international relations and foreign policy training to students at every stage of their academic journey. We also know that every student’s story is different and that they take different paths that lead them to Notre Dame and the NDISC. From San Diego to South Bend and the US Marine Corps to NDISC, one such story is that of Ryan Spees, Class of 2023. We were excited to talk to Ryan as he shares his story.

Describe your personal journey and why you chose Notre Dame.

Always sailor. Ryan (pictured in the green hoodie during our annual Small Unit Leadership Exercise) has established himself as a leader among his cohort.

Coming from Ramona, a small town in San Diego, school was never my main interest, but I always wanted to join the military due to my family’s long history of service since the Revolutionary War. . I decided to enlist after high school and my Marine Corps career began in 2014.

I was stationed at Camp Pendleton as an Intelligence Analyst for the duration of my 5 year active duty enlistment, starting with the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion where I depended on me for tactical level intelligence and briefings on the enemy situation. I was also able to deploy to a combat engineer company for a quick security assignment in Oman, where I led the intelligence section of a base defense operations center.

Meanwhile, Lindsey, my fiancée, helped me enroll in my first online college classes and although school was never my strong suit, I told the Battalion Career Planner that if I had to go to college, Notre Dame was the only place that caught my interest.

My next orders were to the 1st Intelligence Battalion where I operated at the strategic level, examining conflicting ICBM tests, military grand strategy and strategic interests, and current threats between the United States and its challengers. In late 2018, I was assigned to a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF) ​​in South America. This experience heightened my interest in international relations and security issues.

In 2019 I had completed 5 years of active duty and Lindsey was looking to start law school. I chose to re-enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves and enrolled full-time in my local community college so I could transfer to where she decided to go to law school. When she was accepted to the University of Notre Dame, I couldn’t have been more excited. I was also happily accepted for transfer and started as a junior in the fall of 2022, and enjoyed every second of it.

What prompted you to pursue studies in political science and international relations?

As an intelligence analyst, I focused on strategy, military conflict, security issues and interests related to military operations. Both political science and international relations are necessarily linked to the field of military intelligence. Notre Dame, and more specifically NDISC, provided high quality classroom opportunities that complemented my prior hands-on experience.

How did you find out about the NDISC?

Now that we were married, Lindsey was considering his offers for law school; we also looked at which schools had undergraduate programs that matched my interests. Notre Dame’s International Security Center was one step ahead of its competitors. I was extremely interested in the undergraduate scholarship and certificate program because it gave me the opportunity to bolster my degree with defense and security-focused courses that are relevant to a career in intelligence. defense. Additionally, the unique opportunities to meet distinguished scholars and national leaders alongside students who share my interests have created a sense of community and support.

What is your favorite class?

So far I have followed US national security policymaking, US foreign policy, post-Cold War great power politics, and am currently enrolled in The Science and Strategy of Nuclear War, Ethics of Emerging Weapons Technologies, and Webb’s War: Vietnam and After (an NDISC class only).

20221007 Sdc Ryanspeesmuseum 600x400
Photographed at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, Ryan considers the travel opportunities one of his favorite aspects of the NDISC.

The Science and Strategy of Nuclear War co-taught by Professor Desch of the NDISC and Professor Bardayan of the Department of Physics provides students with insight into the scientific development, social and political implementations of nuclear weapons. Targeting countervalue and counterforce is also covered, which helps in assessing adversary capabilities, assessing threats, and determining an adversary’s course of action based on the situation. .

My favorite class so far has been US Foreign Policy, taught by Professor Lindley. Although thought provoking, he taught many theories and trends in international relations and security issues. The Russian-Ukrainian war became a real-time case study that allowed me to combine my professional skills with the course material to write my articles.

How did your experience in the Marines influence your time at NDISC?

I like to bring my own perspectives to our discussions. I believe my Marine Corps experience has given me the ability to ask unique questions at our conferences or speaker events. Many topics are things I was exposed to in the Marines, and I’m interested to see how my experience fits into the academic view of the field.

How do you apply your learning from the NDISC in your role as an intelligence analyst?

The NDISC has greatly contributed to my role as an intelligence analyst. I’m currently a senior intelligence analyst with my detachment and I’m in charge of intelligence training for 37 Marines. I work with our Master Analyst to build training plans and regularly incorporate lessons learned from the NDISC so that our Marines can improve their own intelligence analysis and products.

How did you evolve in the NDISC program?

The NDISC has changed the way I look at the decisions of international actors and I really believe that I am a more complete analyst. It is critically important that there are spaces where ideas and voices, regardless of age or experience, can flow freely and the NDISC provides such a forum. I was immediately impressed (and intimidated) by the caliber of students and faculty involved in the NDISC. I quickly felt the invitation to engage and contribute and their support allowed me to hone the professional and analytical skills needed to be effective in the intelligence community.

What would you say to someone considering the NDISC?

I think the NDISC is a great fit for most interests and degree paths. First, the NDISC is closely tied to engineering, science, and technology, as we regularly address topics such as the military-industrial complex, conventional military capabilities, and emerging or improving technologies. Just to name a few examples are cyber, drones, artificial intelligence and chemical/biological/nuclear/radiation weapons. Even someone in economics would benefit from our discussions of power (economic and political), methods of economic coercion, and international trade and markets. The network built within the NDISC alone is attractive enough.

NDISC faculty and staff are proud to be part of Ryan’s story. We are also delighted to be part of yours! For more information contact us.

Originally posted by Notre Dame International Security Center at ndisc.nd.edu on October 07, 2022.

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