UMW faculty member Guy B. Roberts is poised to take a top position with the United States Department of Defense. President Donald J. Trump announced last week his intent to nominate Roberts as assistant secretary of the DOD’s nuclear, chemical and biological defense (NCBD) programs.
“It is a great honor and exciting challenge to be nominated …” said Roberts, a recognized expert on national security law and policy. “In many respects it is the next step in my long career of working to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and preventing such weapons from being used against us and our allies.”
As NCBD assistant secretary, Roberts will be the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on nuclear energy and weapons, and chemical and biological defense programs and initiatives. He will develop policy and provide counsel on the safety, security and destruction of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear arms.
Since spring 2014, Roberts has been an adjunct member of UMW’s Department of Political Science and International Affairs. He is known for securing high-profile internships and top-level contacts for students at Mary Washington, where he has taught Transnational Threats and International Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction courses. He teaches similar subjects at higher education institutions across the country, but will take a break from the classroom to accommodate the long hours and demanding travel of his new DOD position.
“Professor Roberts’ Weapons of Mass Destruction class was fascinating but also had a terrifying shock factor,” said former student Kasey Nabal ’12, a political science major who is now associate manager at Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “He presented the curriculum … in an interesting way, encouraging class discussion with open-ended questions that made myself and my classmates think hard about the impact of a leader’s choices.”
In his current position as president of GBR Consulting, Roberts provides expertise on arms control, non-proliferation, international legal issues and strategies to combat terrorism. He also is a consultant for the Center for Strategic International Studies and the Computer Science Corp. He has served in similar roles in top positions with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Belgium and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C.
A prolific author of journal articles about international relations, terrorism, nuclear weapons and national security, Roberts spent 25 years in the Marine Corps, providing legal counsel and services to thousands of military personnel and retiring in the rank of colonel. He shared those experiences with Mary Washington students.
“Here is a guy who has had a high-level role in every American foreign policy situation since the Invasion of Grenada,” said former student and political science major Richard Barrett ’16, “and he treats even freshmen with the respect of a five-star general.”
Roberts earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University, a juris doctorate from the University of Denver, a master of laws degree in international and comparative law from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College. Among his many honors, he received the Exceptional Public Service Award from the Department of Defense.
The Senate confirmation hearing to appoint Roberts to the DOD’s NCBD post is expected to take place after Labor Day, just as classes kick into high gear at UMW, where his presence will be missed.
“Mary Washington students flocked to his Weapons of Mass Destruction course,” said Political Science and International Affairs Professor Jack Kramer, who chairs the department. “They were attracted by Professor Roberts’ obvious expertise in the subject matter, as well as his well-known enthusiasm, dedication to student learning and help with internships, job opportunities and resources for research.”