2023 “Bobby R. Inman Award” Winners Announced

Aug 02, 2023

The Intelligence Studies Project of the University of Texas at Austin is pleased to announce the winner and two semifinalists in the ninth-annual competition recognizing outstanding student research and writing on topics related to intelligence and national security.  

The recipient of the “Inman Award” is A.J. Dilts, a 2023 graduate of Harvard University in History and Government. His paper The Architecture of Advice: How the Bureau of Intelligence and Research Shaped President Kennedy’s Policy in Vietnam, 1961-1963 focuses on the active role Roger Hilsman’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department played in informing – and influencing – President Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam. 

The graduate semifinalists are Wright Smith and Nicholas Blanchette, both PhD students in Security Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their paper “Our Bomber Will Always Get Through”: Cognitive Barriers to US-UK Wartime Military Intelligence During the Air Offensives of 1939-1941 discusses the British and German air campaigns in the early years of World War II and explains how cognitive biases distorted the assessments of UK and American intelligence analysts and strategists.

The undergraduate semifinalist is Brennan Ferrington, a 2023 graduate of Vanderbilt University in History, Physics, and Public Policy Studies. His paper Reevaluating the 1983 War Scare: Did Huffing and Puffing Almost Blow the House Down? argues that Soviet leaders were, in fact, unlikely to miscalculate and initiate a nuclear conflict in response to the Able Archer exercise and other signals during the 1983 “War Scare.”

The winning papers were selected from dozens of high-quality submissions from students at a wide range of U.S. colleges and universities.  Papers were evaluated on their academic rigor, presentation, creativity, and the potential to contribute positively to the U.S. Intelligence Community. The author of the winning paper received a $5,000 cash award and the authors of the semifinalist papers were awarded $2,500. 

The Inman Award recognizes more than six decades of distinguished public service by Bobby R. Inman, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Admiral Inman served in multiple leadership positions in the U.S. military, intelligence community, private industry, and the University of Texas. His previous intelligence posts include Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice-Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the National Security Agency, and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence.

Learn more about the Intelligence Studies Project.