1LT Michael Hill, USA
What inspired you to build a career in national security?
One of my earliest memories is watching the second jet hit the World Trade Center on an early Tuesday morning while doing chores with my mother. As a result, my adolescence was encompassed by the Global War on Terror. This, combined with my keen interest in history spurred on by my father and my sense that it was my turn to serve, led me to pursue a commission in the US Army. My 4 years in the Army taught me that I thrive in adverse environments. As a Soldier, I sought out some of the toughest challenges the military had to offer. I am proud to have completed US Army Ranger School, where I was pushed beyond the brink of my limits in a grueling 62-day course in the seemingly always rainy forests, mountains, and swamps of Georgia and Florida. The experience taught me the importance of persistence, teamwork, and never giving up, no matter how challenging the situation may be. As an Arctic Paratrooper stationed in Alaska, I learned the importance of adapting to extreme cold weather conditions and navigating unfamiliar terrain, all while leading small tactical units and jumping out of planes at 1200 feet. These experiences instilled in me a sense of confidence and resilience, and further strengthened my passion for serving my country in ambiguous environments.
What is one piece of advice you would offer somebody new to the field?
Whether you are meeting someone for a coffee, shaking a stranger’s hand, or having your groceries rung up at the checkout line, you never know when a small interaction could snowball into a life-changing moment. Each interaction you have can change your path forward, and each interaction is an opportunity for someone to get to know you and your authentic self whether it's a friendship, a business dealing, or a prospective job. I have found that the smallest of interactions when infused with the greatest of empathy, have changed my life in more ways than I can count compared to the “big” events that were manufactured to make a difference.
Who are your mentors and how have they inspired you in your career?
One mentor of mine is a previous supervisor from when I began working in an intelligence shop at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He had spent several years in the special operations before transitioning to the role where I met him. However, his empathy as a leader, specifically as someone who cared deeply about those who served below his pay grade, is what stood out to me the most. His advocacy for the Soldiers in his charge created a strong team bond that was the impetus for producing motivated and effective analysts. I will always remember how the Soldiers that worked under him always did the right thing when he wasn’t there. Working under his leadership was nothing short of an inspiration to me, as he taught me about the kind of leader that I wanted to be.
What is your favorite movie, book, TV show, or podcast? Why?
Currently, my favorite book is First Casualty by Toby Harnden. First Casualty tells the story of the clandestine team that went into Afghanistan in the weeks following 9/11. It recounts the valiant effort to apprehend members of Al Qaeda who were being harbored by The Taliban and the significant loss our Nation endured when a CIA hero, Michael Spann, was killed during the prisoner uprising. The contributions that the covert team and their Special Forces brethren made in the collection of information to ensure that America would never face another attack on her soil continue to inspire me as well as countless others who remember the terrible events that unfolded under a tyrannical mastermind of terror. The actions that these brave men made were nothing short of extraordinary in the early fight against an aggressor that attempted to diminish our American way of life.
Each interaction you have can change your path forward, and each interaction is an opportunity for someone to get to know you and your authentic self whether it's a friendship, a business dealing, or a prospective job.1LT Michael Hill, USA