Improving U.S. Foreign Policy Development and Implementation

  • Lieutenant Colonel Todd M. Fox

Adopting an APEX-like approach at the NSC level would be a significant step to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of American foreign policy. State, USAID, and Defense all face significant obstacles “to ensure that their individual plans are based on shared assessments of conditions and appropriately aligned to account for each other’s priorities and plans.” Although each organization shares a common interest to promote US national security, distinct cultures, processes, language, timelines, and personalities lead to very different approaches and priorities. Establishing a common planning process that is based on the APEX system but modified to account for organizational differences is the next step in improving synchronization of all of the elements of national power. A National Security Council integrated and a UCP-like plan approved by the President would better align national ways and means to achieve national end states and reduce the confusion or mixed messages sent to our allies, adversaries, and partners throughout the world.