A National Security Staff for the 21st Century

  • December 01, 2012
  • Dr Jack A LeCuyer

Our legacy 1947/1989 national security system is unsuited for the dynamic and complex global security environment that has developed since the end of the Cold War. Over time, the National Security Council has evolved from the very limited advisory group initially imagined by President Truman to that of a vast network of interagency groups that were developed since 1989. These interagency groups view themselves as deeply involved in integrating policy development, crisis management, and staffing for the President. However, the National Security Staff (NSS) and the national security system are relics of the industrial age—vertical stovepipes—in an age that demands that the management of the national security system be conducted at the strategic level. What is required is a true national security strategy based on ends, ways, and means; the alignment of resources with integrated national security missions; and the assessment and accountability of management functions that should be performed by a properly resourced NSS unburdened from the urgency of the 24/7 news cycle. The President’s National Security Strategy of May 2010 calls for reform in many of these areas. Section 1072 of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act calls upon the President to outline the changes and resources that are needed in both the executive branch and in Congress to implement his national security strategy. The President’s response to this legislative mandate can and should be the first step in a strategic partnership for transforming our national security system, in both the executive branch and the Congress, to that of a system that can meet and anticipate the challenges and opportunities for ensuring our security and well-being.