An unsettled, and many would argue, a potentially hostile future. Upcoming presidential elections, rising oil prices, a shifting view towards Asia, and plans to reduce Defense Department spending and downsize and re-balance the military. What does it all mean and how is America dealing with it? Many questions, lots of opinions, and few black and white answers.
Such is the nature of strategy but that’s why it is complicated business and not for mere amateurs. While I am no expert, I frequently get asked (most often by my brother Richard), “what do you think about . . .?” Of course, I am always happy to offer an opinion. But before I do, however, I would like to help set some context – at least for national security strategy – for future posts.
Despite the political winds that the media would have us believe are in constant and violent flux, America’s security strategy has remained fairly consistent over the last 60 years. While change in presidential administrations, no doubt, drives changes and updates to national security strategy, those changes are seldom extreme. Context, therefore, is based first and foremost on understanding the current state of America’s national security strategy as communicated in several important documents. These documents and their development are all intended to be nested, with each successive level describing a more detailed supporting idea. One needs only look at the dates, however, to see that it is not a perfect science and they are not always updated in proper sequence. Ideally, the National Security Strategy is established first with the National Defense Strategy, and then to the National Military Strategy following in succession.
2010 National Security Strategy – President Obama’s vision Go to NSS
2008 National Defense Strategy – Former Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates’ vision Go to NDS
2011 National Military Strategy – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Admiral Mullen’s vision Go to NMS
The 2008 National Defense Strategy will likely be updated soon to align with the new defense guidance that was presented by President Obama on January 5th, 2012. He delivered his updated strategic “vision” in the Pentagon with new Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and senior civilian and military Defense Department leaders. For those who want to learn more, see the links below for a couple of good articles that address these documents. Enjoy!