The National Security Strategy: Documenting Strategic Vision Second Edition

  • March 01, 1995
  • Dr Don M Snider

The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act requires the President to submit an annual report on the National Security Strategy. In theory, a formal presentation of grand strategy was intended to lend coherence to the budgeting process; a clear statement of interests, objectives, and concepts for achieving them gave Congress a clear idea of the resources required to support the President's strategy. The problem with such documents is that they often create the false impression that strategy formulation is a rational and systemic process. In fact, strategy formulation both within the executive branch and between the executive branch and Congress is an intensely political process from which national strategy emerges after protracted bargaining and compromise. Key personalities do what they can agree to do. Don Snider, as an Army colonel, participated in this process at the National Security Council, and prepared the 1988 Report on National Security Strategy. This study is his account of the strategy formulation process as viewed from the White House.