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“Bottom Line Up Front” (BLUF): Former Chief of Strategic Planning, Doctrine, and Policy at U.S. Air Force Space Command Outlines Briefing Strategy for SSI Junior Fellows

December 3, 2015

Robert Butterworth, President of Aries Analytics, Inc., a space consultancy, spoke to the Space Security Initiative (SSI) Junior Fellows on briefing strategies. Dr. Butterworth earned his Ph.D. from Berkeley and was a tenured political scientist at Pennsylvania State University. He went on to accumulate a great deal of experience in writing policy briefs and in presenting to government stakeholders. He held top positions in the U.S. Defense Department, the U.S. Senate, the White House, and the U.S. Air Force Space Command.

Dr. Butterworth outlined concrete ways for the SSI Junior Fellows to connect to, craft, and influence policy audiences especially in Washington D.C. He discussed his previous experiences writing for the military and highlighted the art of concision.

2015-12-03 123619“You must be clear about what you want to say, and more importantly, state your argument at the beginning,” he said. He pointed to the strategy of “Bottom Line Up Front, better known as ‘BLUF,’” which is a key feature in policy writing because the wide range of stakeholders and readers do not have time for long articles. Dr. Butterworth added that this differs considerably from academic writing for smaller specialist audiences, where much effort is devoted to demonstrating the causal mechanisms that explain social phenomena.

The session was also a part of The Bridge Lab series under the Jackson School Ph.D. program, and was followed by a general Q&A session where the Ph.D. students and the SSI Junior Fellows asked questions regarding Dr. Butterworth’s experience with the US Air Force and tips on bridging-the-gap between academics and professionals.
Dr. Butterworth emphasized the importance of area expertise and explained how academic research can affect policies. He strongly encouraged the Junior Fellows in SSI to work on space security projects and to present their findings to broader audiences.

This publication was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.