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

Dr. Sheila Ronis

page 5 of 6 | previous page

Internally, there needs to be a mechanism to bring the diverse agencies involved in National Security together to develop a joint vision and a plan to carry it out. In fact, if a formal interagency process is not voluntarily developed, there is a chance that it will be imposed by Congress in legislation that will "force" agencies to work together, not unlike the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which forced the jointness activities between the services.

After personally experiencing the divestiture and reorganization of the old Bell System and the telecommunications industry in this country, I firmly believe that to create the rules of play is far superior to having those rules imposed upon you by those who may not understand all the fundamental functions. And, yet, this is exactly what could happen if the federal agencies involved in National Security can not learn how to develop effective formal processes to integrate the diverse elements of National Security; potentially to develop interagency doctrine, strategic, operating, and tactical plans.

Worse yet, we could lose this war on terrorism at home and abroad!

After World War II, General George C. Marshall said,

"We are now concerned with the peace of the entire world.
And the peace can only be maintained by the strong."

These words were never more true. But, what does it mean for the United States to be strong in the 21st Century? The National Security community must be thought of from a "systems" perspective in order to enable the United States to be strong and secure. Systems have interdependent and interconnected elements, and the National Security community, as a system, does too.

If we were to develop a vision of National Security to prepare for shaping our environments, what might some preliminary assumptions look like?

  • The world is a system. In a system, every element is interdependent with every other element and the system is only as strong as its weakest link.
  • The United States has global interests. Its National Security community includes the political, military, economic, diplomatic, criminal justice and other communities inside the government and outside of the government, such as NGOs, global businesses, other governments and so on.
  • National Security also depends upon the education of future generations, at home and around the world.
  • Conflict anywhere on the planet can negatively affect the world anywhere, because the world is a system. Therefore, our interests may require U.S. involvement anywhere to deter, reduce or eliminate conflict.
  • The process of deterrence, manag

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