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Visioning for the 21st Century:
A Process for National Security

Dr. Sheila Ronis

page 3 of 5 | previous page

We may want to use the National Security Strategy development and execution to more effectively develop the integrative mechanisms and formal interagency processes and doctrine that we will need to ultimately develop our National Strategy. Is it backwards? Yes, to a systems scientist, but the two strategies could co-evolve. And, National Security is so much broader than we view it in America, that we may learn a lot in the process.

We might want to begin by asking each department and agency of the federal government to describe how they support the National Strategy. We should also ask if they support the National Security Strategy, and, if so, how.

Let's explore how a visioning process could be useful for the National Security community in developing their plans for accomplishing the National Security mission of the United States and its need to engage in shaping the world to accomplish this mission. As a nation, we need a vision of what role we want to play in the world for the next century and how we will improve the security, not only of our homeland, but the world, and American interests in it. There will be no security at home, and there will be no protecting American interests around the world, if the world is in turmoil and we are at war.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the crumbling infrastructure of the former Soviet Union, along with its associated political, economic and social deterioration, with the increasing pace of change and technology which are leading the planet beyond Alvin Toffler's "third wave," and the globalization of the world economy, the stable bi-polar world of the Cold War changed forever. These changes included an American will to limit the resources available for defense in spite of the need to increase its capabilities. Instead of a global "peace dividend," the people of the world inherited an increasingly complex, unstable and violent place to live, with less predictability than ever before.

As a systems scientist, I think that in order to develop a vision for the future, any entity needs to examine the larger system that it is a part of. DoD is a part of the National Security system of the nation. In this world, the need to define the changing role that DoD should play is critical to preserving our nation's security, and its role in the world. DoD, after all, has the major infrastructure we need to accomplish most of our National Security Strategies. If we are to be successful at improving the protection of Americans and American interests, we will need to improve our efforts to "shape" the world. Shaping, after all, is a form of influencing events in your favor. But, to know what you want to influence, it is imperative that you have thought through a vision of what role you want to play, first.

Influence, in the 21st Century will not be a "U.S. centric" only consideration, but must consider impacts world-wide. In our representative democracy, the ideas of defining a new role for the nation needs to be openly discussed and debated, especially for a nation at war.

Defense at home and abroad is a key, but not the only component of National Security. The Department of Defense has a National Military Strategy that supports the National Security Strategy of the United States. Many other agencies and departments within the federal government play a role in the definition of national security such as State, Commerce, Treasury and Justice, not to mention the National Security Advisor and the National Security Council. The role the new Homeland Defense Office will play is critical to define.

The future of National Security will depend on a formal interagency process that will need to be developed in much more detail than it currently is configured. And, The National Security Strategy of the United States, published by The White House needs to become more than a political philosophy or policy wish list. It must become a viable strategic, operational and tactical reality. And, that will require interagency planning, process, doctrine and vision.

National Security and the global security of the rest of the world will depend upon the role DoD will play in this process. What role, then, should they play?

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