How US Government Thinks-Stinks

Rebuilding Washington's Capacity to Develop Sound National Security Policies and Programs

The last quarter century has seen an explosion in the human capacity to create and manipulate new strategies knowledge. Despite that fact, the instruments used to inform public policy choices are as creaky as ever.

The answer to the problem is creating institutions and a professional ethos that exploits multidisciplinary public policy analysis using cutting-edge information instruments.Contents- The Problem- Why this Project?- A History of Ideas- Today's Task- Candidate Tools for Cutting-Edge Thinking- Horizon Scanning- A Case Study in Stupid- The Interagency "Whole-of-Government" Solutions- Course in Creative Thinking

Please make your comments; our security is very important. Tnx

National Security Policies: The Problem

Here is America’s problem in the nutshell. Washington does not think very well. The last quarter century has seen an explosion in the human capacity to create and manipulate new strategies knowledge. Despite that fact, the instruments used to inform public policy choices are as creaky as ever. Washington makes policy largely by intuition shaped by an orthodox adherence to tired interpretations of international relations theories and public choice theory—ideas that have barely evolved since the Cold War. Our minds are behind the times. All this needs to change if America wants to out think its enemies and help its friends in the world secure a safe, free, and prosperous future.

Developing a capacity to identify and exploit new strategies means of analysis for informing public policy making could be the key competitive advantage of the 21st century. Knowing what is out there and what is coming will be an important part of thinking the future. Equally vital will be establishing the permanent capacity to change how we think—the ability to discover, innovate, and adapt new strategies ways of knowledge creation to the task of sound decision making.

National Security Policies: Why this Project?

This effort started when I was asked to participate in another google New Strategies Topics on Global Issues that asked the question "What are the main national security threats faced by our nation?" I thought the debate was stupid. Analysts were just asked to give their opinion. There was no analysis required to justify these assessments. Intuitive judgments are important-but not a sufficient basis for making public policy decisions.

The more I study the issue, the more I am dismayed with how Washington decides what to do. And the great tragedy is...we can do much better.

National Security Policies: A History of Ideas

Thinking anew strategies is old stuff. Indeed, periods of Western history are defined by efforts to reconceptualize our understanding of the links between “cause” and “effect” and use that knowledge to make decisions.

14th Century- The Renaissance is remembered as the age of recovering the innovations of Greco-Roman thought and applying them to contemporary challenges.

 Niccolo Machiavelli (Renaissance political strategies thinker)
17th Century- The “scientific revolution” of the early modern era introduced experimentation as the foundational strategic method for establishing empirical knowledge.
 Isaac Newton (discovered the "laws" of physical motion and gravity)
18th Century-  From the later part of the century the age of Enlightenment expanded “rational” methods to virtually every field from medicine to military matters.
 Voltaire (French Enlightenment writer)
19th Century- The Industrial Revolution ushered in an era when managers, accountants, and engineers applied scientific-logic to organizing everyday life.
 (Abraham Rees's  Cyclopaedia detailed science and technology of new strategies industrial era)
20th Century-  The post-modern world introduced new strategies intellectual constructs that questioned the Enlightenment assumptions of inevitable human progress and even the certainty of knowing anything for sure.
Niezsche (post-modern philosopher)

21st Century- The challenge today is thinking anew strategies in the information age. And that looks to be no easy task.

Today's Task

Something dramatic has been added to the arsenal for analyzing today's challenges—the proliferation of computer technology, the Internet, and everything else that goes with the “information revolution.” Today, over one billion users have been on the World Wide Web. Modern researchers have access to vast digital libraries and databases as well as powerful search and computational programs. New strategies means of manipulating data, likeinformatics (the science of information processing): data-mining (extracting and analyzing data to identify patterns and relationships); computer simulation (modeling a system), and open source intelligence (acquiring and analyzing information from publicly available sources to produce actionable intelligence) are delivering revolutionary instruments of knowledge discovery.

Ironically, knowledge discovery is proliferating in every field except national security. While the means of knowledge discovery have become more sophisticated, the process of public policy making has become increasingly intuitive. In Washington, talking points, gut-feeling, partisan preferences, and ideological fervor crowd out cutting-edge analysis.

It is not clear why the current policy paradox has emerged—why intuition so often trumps analysis. In part, the answer might be rooted in our two competing intellectual cultures.
On the one hand, the Western approach to national security derives from a tradition of applying scientific methods to public policy making.
On the other hand, we are also products of an older narrative culture, dominated by the oral transmission of ideas in the form of stories that have a beginning and end, heroes and villains, and lessons to be learned.
The information age has, in fact, empowered both our scientific and narrative cultures. Information technology allows researchers to conduct more analysis, but it also allows opinion makers to spin better, more compelling stories, faster, and proliferate them more widely. [1] In many area of modern life the analytical power of the information age dominates, but not in the public sphere where public policies are made. While computers expand computational power, they also power E-mail, Facebook, U-Tube, Twitter, and other social networking tools (often collectively called Web 2.0) that facilitate conversation and story-telling on a global scale.[2]

Narrative culture’s emerging dominance may also be attributable in part due to the increasing importance of “empathy” in the contemporary world. In Western culture, empathy has risen to become a key preferred attribute of modern society.[3] The emotion of caring overwhelms the logic of cold hard facts. Since stories are particularly effective at stirring our emphatic impulses, the power of information age technology pushes that impulse into overdrive.

Another possible candidate for explaining the rise of the power of the narrative over analysis in public policy debates is the profound transformation in our understandings of the representation of 'truth" and "facts" driven by post-modern philosophy and literary criticism. "These have led scholars to value 'smart' and 'interesting' work over the 'sound' and 'rigorous' studies that were most praised in earlier decades," suggests sociologist Michele Lamont.[4] Perhaps these academic attitudes have crossed over to influence the character of the debate in the public sphere as well.


[1] Alex Wright, Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages (Washington, DC: 2007), p. 231-232.

[2] Josef Kolbitsch and Hermann Maurer, “The Transformation of the Web: How Emerging Communities Shape the Information We Consume,” Journal of Universal Computer Science 2/2 (2006), pp. 187-207.

[3] Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights (New strategies York: WW Norton, 2007), pp. 28-29, 39-40.

[4] Michele Lamont, How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgment (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009).  p. 73.

National Security Policies: Candidate Tools for Cutting-Edge Thinking

There is nothing wrong with stories or empathy. Likewise, we should expect our decision-makers to have heart-felt beliefs and passionate principles. It would be hubris to argue that any analytical process could provide all the answers. Analysis can’t resolve every issue. Faith and reason both have their place. What is needed today, however, is a better balance in the arguments presented in the modern virtual public square.

A multi-disciplinary approach recognizes that there is no assured single path to knowledge. Rather, it argues for testing cause and affects relationships through several means. Multidisciplinary studies are not new, but they can be particularly fruitful now. The information age provides an unprecedented capacity to tackle tough problems in different ways.

Several modern methods of analysis are especially promising. The capacity to query databases for extracting particular knowledge and evaluating large quantities of data, revealing patterns or relationships that might not otherwise be readily apparent adds a new strategies and powerful dimension to these tools. They are attractive tools for addressing the challenges of making decisions in the information age.

National Security Policies: Scenario-Based Planning

One means to combat the tendency to plan against only the most anticipated endstate is through an analytical approach often called scenario-based planning. This process is well described in the book Creating Strategic Vision (National Defense University 1987). In scenario-based planning analysts postulate alternative futures conditions and determine the optimum response for each. They then define the capabilities needed to provide that response and determine how to obtain them. Finally, they compare the results of each analysis and identify common capabilities and responses across the scenarios. The common capabilities provide the basis for future contingency planning, offering a core set responses that would likely be highly useful regardless of how the future unfolds. This strategic method also holds the advantage of providing analysts a structured, common framework for problem-solving and planning. There are examples of these techniques already being employed in government. [1] In addition, the Department of Homeland Security used scenario-based planning to determine the critical emergency response capabilities required by states, cities, and communities need to address a wide variety of disaster scenarios.[2] They are, however, rarely used to address whole-of-government challenges, though they have application in a wide range of fields from responding to pandemics to dealing with a financial crisis.

National Security Policies: The Delphi Technique

Employs engaging many experts in formal iterative process to produce a more comprehensive estimate of "future" states. While this strategic method of analysis depends heavily on an expert’s intuition and judgment, it tests their ideas against other experts through an iterative process using a questionnaire. First a questionnaire is developed and submitted to a panel of experts. The results are analyzed and the mean responses returned to the panel with a second-round refined questionnaire. This process is repeated until clear points of convergence or disagreement are identified.  This process is described in Creating Strategic Vision in pages 72-75.  It is argued that the questionnaire process is superior to a traditional peer review process because it limits the influence of strong personalities and views dominating the analysis.

National Security Policies: Complex Systems Analysis

Most problems faced by policymakers today involve trying to understand, predict, or affect the behavior of complex systems from border and immigration security to financial markets to transnational terrorist organizations. Describing complex systems—how they work; what they produce; and then applying various planning methods and choice models to determine how the systems performance can be changed is the task of complex systems analysis.[2] Some efforts have been made to apply systems to addressing homeland security issues. For example, the Northwest Partnership for Regional Infrastructure Security has held a series of exercises called “Blue Cascades” that examines all the interdependencies of a regional-wide failure of the electrical grid. There are, however, too few centers of excellence that routinely integrate complex systems into national security planning.

National Security Policies: Operations Research

Rather than focusing on the performance of a system as a whole, operations research entails focusing narrowly and in greater depth on a single process or organizational activity. In short, it conducts an end-to-end assessment of how specific tasks or missions are performed. Operations research has long been used by the military applied over the years to many of the Pentagon’s problems. Operations research was also employed during the Vietnam War.[3] The experience of operations was so positive that during the era of the Reagan build-up, every command and military installation had its own team of military operations professionals, including university-trained officers. Recently, the military has resurrected operational research concepts to address the challenge of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. While operations research is not new, information age capabilities (the ability to gather and sort vast amounts of information) have greatly expanded their potential to aid in national security decision-making. Operational methods, however, are not widely used outside defense circles for national security planning.

National Security Policies: Net Assessment

Another problem often found in how Washington makes decisions regarding national security is that the urgent often crowds out the important. Leaders distract by the pressures of daily meetings, briefings, and decisions often fail to anticipate the long-term consequences of their decisions.  The free-thinking, speculative nature of net assessment offers senior leaders a disciplined process to expand their thinking horizon beyond the immediate environment and timeframe. It begins with a premise—all national security challenges are a series of actions and counteractions between com¬petitors—and asks how these competitions might progress in the future. Net assessment argues for a compre-hensive approach to analysis, look¬ing at the full range of factors that shape and alter the security environment of the future, including social, political, technological, and economic strategies trends. The net assessment strategic method employs diverse tools to enrich understanding of the nature of competition. The tools of net assessment for defense analyses combine “scenarios, war strategies games, trend analysis, and considered judgment.”[4] The net assess¬ment process often begins with systems analysis and game theory, to interpret competitive environments. Net assessment adds to analytical methods like gaming and systems analysis, which produce pre¬dictable outcomes such as computer modeling that posits the impact of changing oil prices on consumer goods. Net assessment encourages senior leaders to consider unexpected outcomes that emerge from unforeseen and unappreciated factors. In the end, net assessment takes on multiple complexities and forecasts futures that conventional analyses or formal models may overlook. 

National Security Policies: Network Science

Network science examines how networks function. They study diverse physical, informational, biological, cognitive, and social networks searching for common principles, algorithms and tools that drive network behavior. The understanding of networks can be applied to a range of challenges from combating terrorist organizations to organizing disaster response.

National Security Policies: Game Theory

Game theories attempt to understand the competition between two or more actors making independent strategic choices. The term "game" is a metaphor for establishing a structured model to evaluate competition. Here is a useful introduction to game theory. Game theory was used during the Cold War strategies especially to evaluate nuclear competion with the Soviet Union. Here is an example of using game theory to evaluate competition in a contemporary proliferated  nuclear environment.

National Security Policies: Horizon Scanning


[1] Sid Kaplan, “Project Horizon - A new strategies approach to interagency planning ,” Federal Times.Com, February 13, 2006,; Matt A. Mayer and James Jay Carafano, “National Disaster Planning Slowed by Inadequate Interagency Process,” Backgrounder #2079 (October 24, 2007),

[2] Described in Richard L. Kugler, Policy Analysis in National Security Affairs: New strategies Methods for a New strategies Era (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 2006).
[3] See, for example, Jullian J. Ewell and Ira S. Hunt, Sharpening the Combat Edge: The Use of Analysis to Reinforce Military Judgment (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 1974).
[4] Paul Bracken, “Net Assessment: A Practical Guide,” Parameters, 36/1 (Spring 2006), pp. 90–100.

National Security Policies: A Case Study in Stupid

US-Russian disagreements over the proposed deployment of land-based missile defenses in Poland and Czech Republic have renewed the debate over the impact of defenses on arms control. In an article posted on the Centre for Research on Globalization web site, former US intelligence and arms control official Scott Ritter asserted, “If the members of the Obama administration would bother to take a stroll down memory lane, they might recall that once upon a time there was a document called the anti-ballistic missile treaty, signed in 1972 between the United States and the former Soviet Union, which recognized that anti-missile defense shields were inherently destabilizing, and as such should not be deployed.” Ritter’s statement bears closer scrutiny.

A comprehensive net assessment would illustrate the true character of the arms competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union/Russia.  During the Cold War strategies the Soviets deployed the world’s only active ballistic missile defense system. Today, Moscow is still protected by a Missile Defense System. This system never played a relevant role in destabilizing competition between the super powers. Additionally, although the issue remains hotly debated, some scholars (see, for example, William Odom, The Collapse of the Soviet Military) contend that the proposal to develop the Strategic Defense Initiativeby US President Ronald Reagan accelerated arms control agreements with the Soviet Union.

Game theory also suggests that missile defense, rather than being destabilizing, actually contributes to limiting the likelihood of nuclear confrontation. Heritage analyst Baker Spring developed a game theory application that studied the affects of missile defense on nuclear competition in a “proliferated” environment where several countries (with independent foreign policies) had access to ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. According to Spring the outcome of his research suggests that “the presence of defenses in a multi-player setting not only does not feed instability, but also may contribute to stability.”

First, the outcome of the games generally showed that the more widespread the presence of defenses, the lower was the propensity to ready offensive (nuclear) arms and fire shots with these arms. It also showed a greater propensity to aban¬don offensive arms (disarm) as defenses became more widespread.

Second, the more widespread the presence of defenses, the lower the propensity to adopt hos¬tile attitudes toward one another or move to threaten each other.

Third, the more widespread the defenses, the less likely an aggressive actor's conclusions favored aggressive actions.

For full results of the nuclear games, see Nuclear Stability Working Group, Nuclear Games: An Exercise Examining Stability and Defenses in a Proliferated World (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2005),

In this case, multi-disciplinary analysis offers a number of tools to effectively test Ritter's assertions--and suggests a different way to look at tough problems. While no one of the techniques in the idea arsenal is a “silver bullet,” together they offer a serious alternative to "opinion."

What is really required are analysts and decision-makers skilled in all these methods and comfortable in combining them to produce a rich multidisciplinary study of complex problems. That rarely happens routinely across the whole-of-government. If Washington is going to make maximum advantage of these research tools and the instruments of knowledge discovery (like data-mining, informatics, computer modeling and simulations, and open source intelligence analysis) which make modern research so powerful—government is going to have to change the way it does business

The Interagency "Whole-of-Government" Solutions
But, how can we make multi-disciplinary analysis "business as usual" in Washington? Here is one approach.

At the heart of transforming how Washington thinks must be a new strategies conceptualization of how the whole-of-government works. This is often referred to as the interagency process. Virtually every national security issue from rebuilding Iraq to responding to terrorist incidents at home demands the organized and integrated effort of multiple federal agencies. A core component of the interagency response has to be the capacity to jointly perform complex, multidisciplinary analysis, developed recommendations, draft plans, and oversee implementation. That will require both ensuring there are people trained in information age analysis and that they have a place and the resources to practice their craft.

If government analysis is ever going to out-compete the story tellers Washington needs to build permanent institutions to teach modern critical thinking skills. At the same time, government needs to make sure these institutions are flexible and agile enough to recognize and exploit not only the information instruments that are available now, but the next wave of knowledge discovery as well. The foundation of this system has to be establishing a framework of educa¬tion, assignment, and accreditation tools that can be applied to developing professionals capable of mastering cutting-edge analysis.
A program of organization, education, assignment, and accreditation that cuts across all levels of govern¬ment and the private sector has to start with professional schools specifically designed to teach interagency skills, including the ability to perform information age analysis. No suitable institutions exist in Washington, academia, or elsewhere. The government will have to establish them. While the resident and non-resident programs of many university and government schools and training centers can and should play a part in interagency education, specific institutions charged with teaching government analysts and decision-makers how to think the future should form the taproot of a national effort with national standards. At the sametime, government will have to establish places where individuals can learn and practice the art of 21st century decision-making.
Organizing for Victory

To understand the performance of the interagen¬cy process, you really have to divide it into three lev¬els. Let’s call them policy, operations, and practice.
The highest level is policy. At the policy level, agencies in Washington reach broad agreement on what each will do to support an overall U.S. policy. Here the United States is not too bad. Interagency operations are really an invention of the Cold War. It is very difficult to look at the U.S. government in any period before in its history and point to an enduring, formal process for interagency cooperation that pro¬duced anything significant. In the inter-war strategies years between World Wars I and II, for example, the U.S. State Department refused to participate in war strategies plan¬ning or issue political strategies guidance to the Army and Navy planners because they felt such coordination would be inappropriate and an intrusion of the mil¬itary into the civilian sphere of government. That changed at the outset of the Cold War strategies with the pas¬sage of the National Security Act of 1947, which cre¬ated the National Military Establishment, which would later become the Department of Defense (organizing all the services under a single federal department), the National Security Council (NSC), and the intelligence community. These entities, particularly the NSC, instituted a process of policy coordination that endures today.
At the lowest level is the practice of cooperation among individuals on the ground. Here, there are many examples in which American officials in short sleeves and soldiers in uniform work fairly well together, scratch their heads, figure things out, and get the job done to the best of their abilities uti¬lizing the resources available. The embassy country teams under the leadership of the Chief of Mission are an example. All U.S. personnel stationed at an embassy, from consular officers to agricultural attachés, Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents, and military foreign affairs officers, work under unified direction.
Another good example of interagency operations in practice is the Joint Interagency Task Forces (JIATFs) that direct drug interdictions in the Caribbe¬an and the Western coast of North America. They are a model of effective intelligence sharing and opera¬tional coordination, not just for U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, but also for foreign govern¬ments. It is not unusual for a French naval vessel to intercept drug runners headed for Europe based on information provided by the JIATF. The JIATFs are so effective that if they had twice as many planes and ships, they still would not be able to intercept all the suspicious shipments that they identify through intel¬ligence gathers, fusion, and information sharing.[1]
On the ground, Americans aren’t bad at inter¬agency cooperation. And it is improving all the time. The military, for example, has conducted some kind of peacekeeping or post-conflict opera¬tion every two years since the end of the Cold War. That means that junior officers and officials from all kinds of agencies have a lot of practical experience on the ground—working with nongovernmental organizations, figuring out the alphabet-soup of agencies they must coordinate with, and getting things done, despite—not because of—guidance from Washington or higher headquarters.
Therefore, we find it is not so bad at the policy lev¬el and not too bad on the ground where individuals work together. It is at the intermediate level, the operational level, where the U.S. government under¬takes major operations and campaigns, and where agencies in Washington have to develop operational plans such as coordinating recovery operations after a major hurricane. This is where interagency coop¬eration is the weakest. This is a legacy of the Cold War. There was never a requirement for federal agencies to do that kind of integrated planning to contain the Soviet Union. Agencies generally agreed on the broad role each would play. There were few requirements under which they had to plan to work together in the field to accomplish a goal under uni¬fied direction. Washington has never had an endur¬ing formal system to do that.
Arguably, when efforts have been made to “oper¬ationalize” decision-making in Washington, princi¬pally by trying to coordinate ongoing interagency operations in the White House or at the NSC, they have proved unsatisfactory and Presidents have rightly backed off from the idea of trying to turn the Oval Office into an operations center.[2] No adminis¬tration has hit on a satisfactory long-term solution.
Not much has changed. In fact, arguably it has got¬ten slightly worse. After the Cold War, a system was developed under Presidential Decision Directive 56 (PDD-56), which established an interagency process to respond to complex contingencies overseas, such as providing assistance to foreign countries after earthquakes and hurricanes.[3]Agencies chafed under a formal process that required them to define an end¬state, allocate resources, articulate a plan, and then jointly monitor execution. After a few years, PDD-56 was scrapped. That leaves us where we are.
Today, coordination of major interagency opera¬tions in the field is often troubled. Reconstruction activities in Iraq are a case in point. The military, the Coalition Provisional Authority, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) all undertook major projects. There was no shared vision, no common operational planning, and no integrated contracting or human capital management strategiesprocess. As a result, these organiza¬tions learned lessons on the job and adapted, but they did not keep up with the changing security environment in the country, and after spending bil¬lions of dollars, there was very little to show for the investment.
If there is a problem that needs to be fixed, it is this—the ability to coordinate major interagency challenges outside of Washington, away from the offices of Cabinet secretaries and staffs, whether it is coordinating disaster relief over a three-state area after a hurricane or conducting the occupation of a foreign country.
That said, the need for cutting-edge analysis transcends all three levels of government operation.  But to understand what must be done to make Washington and the folks that work for Washington better thinkers and decision-makers we have to understand why the system does not work well now--why storytellers so often best number crunchers.
Why We Are Flawed

It should come as no surprise that operational interagency activities have been found wanting. They are flawed by design. I can offer at least eight factors that contribute to that.
Tradition. The divide between civil and military spheres is part of a U.S. tradition that has always placed a premium on civilian control of the mili¬tary. In the 19th century it was thought appropriate to “firewall” military activities from civilian func¬tions.[4] Even today, military and civilian officials are cautious about “straying out of their lane.”
Congress. Congress is ill-suited to promote cooperation between federal agencies. It appropri¬ates funds for operations of individual depart¬ments. The jurisdiction of committees that oversee the government dovetail with the departments they oversee.
Professional Development. One key instrument for facilitating integrated action is a shared body of common knowledge and practices, common expe¬riences, and trust and confidence among practitio¬ners. The military achieved improved cooperation between the armed forces by creating a joint profes¬sional development program that included activi-ties involving more than one military service and that included requirements for joint education, joint assignments, and joint accreditation. No such professional development program exists for the interagency process.
Operational Organization. Every federal agency has its own distinct operational organization. The U.S. military, for example, has a system of regional commands established under the Unified Com¬mand Plan (UCP). It does match the State Depart-ment’s regional system, which, in any case, functions nothing like the military combatant com¬mands. Federal agencies are always reluctant to support interagency headquarters outside of Wash¬ington out of fear that they will usurp policymak¬ing authorities from the department secretariats.
Capacity. Outside the Department of Defense, federal departments have very limited capabilities to conduct “operational” activities. Most federal agencies, for example, do not have effective means to mobilize and deploy personnel.
Inspectors General. Interagency operations require effective oversight. This is problematic for a federal inspector general corps that aligns with individual agencies. In Iraq, for example, a Special Inspector General for Iraq had to be established to oversee activities involving multiple agencies.
Politics. Many politicians are rightly uncomfort¬able with the notion of “big” government. They are concerned that creating a more effective interagency process would empower government to the point that it might lead to abuse, encouraging Washington to take on missions that are not appropriate.
Operational Models. There are no good opera¬tional models on how to undertake major inter¬agency activities outside of Washington. The most common is the “lead agency” model, in which one federal agency is responsible for leading a response or planning effort. Where the lead agency has the preponderance of responsibility and the resources, usually other departments act like bystanders— primarily interested in doing as little as possible. Where the departments all have major equities in the process, usually everyone simply agrees to do what they are already doing.
We Could Do It Better

The answer is not reorganizing the federal government or redistribut¬ing federal responsibilities. We need to focus on how to make the interagency process more respon-sive in the operational environment. That is combination of building the professional workforce of skilled analysts and decisionmakers and giving them place to learn, teach, and practice their craft.

The Right Stuff.  21st century thinking is a core competence of government. The professionals that lead the effort must have four essential skills:
•             Familiarity with a number of diverse security-related disciplines (such as health care, law enforcement, immigration, and trade) and practice in interagency operations, working with different government agencies, the private sector, and international partners;
•             Competence in crisis action and long-term stra¬tegic planning; and
•             A sound understanding of federalism, the free-market economy, constitutional rights, and international relations.
•             Last, and vital, the knowledge, skills, and attributes to conduct 21st century cutting-edge analysis.

Lessons Learned. The U.S. military faced similar profes¬sional development challenges in building a cadre of joint leaders—officers competent in multi-service operations involv¬ing two or more of the armed services. The Gold¬water–Nichols Act of 1986 mandated a solution that required officers to have a mix of joint edu¬cation, assignments, and accreditation by a board of professionals in order to be eligible for promotion to general officer rank. Goldwater– Nichols is widely credited with the successes in joint military operations from Desert Storm to the war strategies on terrorism.

Foundations. Educa¬tion, assignment, and accreditation are tools that can be applied to developing professionals for critical interagency national security activities.
Education. A program of education, assignment, and accreditation that cuts across all levels of govern¬ment and the private sector with national and homeland security responsibilities has to start with professional schools specifically designed to teach interagency skills and modern critical thinking skills.
Assignment. Qualification will also require inter¬agency assignments in which individuals can prac¬tice and hone their skills. These assignments should be at the “operational” level where leaders learn how to make things happen, not just set pol¬icies. Identifying the right organizations and assignments and ensuring that they are filled by promising leaders should be a priority.
Accreditation. Accreditation and congressional in¬volvement are crucial to ensuring that programs are successful and sustainable. Before leaders are selected for critical (non-politically appointed) positions in national and homeland security, they should be accredited by a board of professionals in accordance with broad guidelines established by Congress.
Congress should require creation of boards that (1) establish educational requirements and accredit institu¬tions that are needed to teach national security and homeland security, (2) screen and approve individuals to attend schools and fill inter¬agency assignments, and (3) certify individuals as interagency-qualified leaders and thinkers.  
Establishing the infrastruture for this new strategies approach to how Washington should think could well require several organizational and institutional innovations.
U.S.-Plan. We have to create a place where this collaborative inter¬agency process can take place.[5] Today's military Unified Command Plan (UCP) is still primarily organized to provide global command for the last war. In addition, while each of the geographic com-mands contains a joint interagency coordination group to organize regional activities, in practice, there is little cooperation or planning with outside organizations or departments. Furthermore, com¬batant commanders tend to compete with the ambassador (and the ambassador’s country team, which incorporates all civilian, military, and intelli¬gence personnel assigned to the embassy) in each country in the commander’s area of responsibility. Combatant commanders cannot partner with the State Department at the regional level either, because the State Department’s regional desks cov¬er different geographical areas than the UCP’s areas of responsibility.
It is time to replace the UCP with an organiza¬tional structure that better supports national secu¬rity needs. That organization should emphasize facilitating interagency operations around the world, while still facilitating effective joint combat action. A new strategies structure, the U.S. Engagement Plan (U.S.-Plan), should be crafted at the direction of, and in response to, the National Security Council, rather than the Pentagon.
A possible structure for U.S.-Plan might go as fol¬lows. There is still a need for permanent military commands under the direction of the Pentagon; however, the number of combatant commands should be reduced to three. In Europe and Northeast Asia, the United States has important and enduring military alliances and there is a continuing need to integrate the U.S. military commands with them. To this end, EUCOM and PACOM should be replaced by a U.S.–NATO command and a U.S. Northeast Asia headquarters. NORTHCOM should remain as the military command responsible for the defense of the United States. In addition, three “Joint Interagen¬cy Groups” (InterGroups) should be established. Joint-Interagency Task Forces have already been used very effectively on a small scale to conduct counter-narcotics operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and off the Pacific coast of the United States. They incorporate resources from multiple agencies under a single command structure for spe¬cific missions. There is no reason that this model could not be expanded in the form of InterGroups to cover larger geographical areas and more diverse mission sets.
The InterGroups within U.S.-Plan should be established to link areas of concern related to nation¬al security missions, such as transnational terrorism, transnational crime (e.g., piracy and drug and human trafficking), weapons proliferation, and regional instability. The InterGroups should be established for Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, and South and Central Asia. Each InterGroup would have a mission set specific to its area. The Lat¬in America InterGroup should focus on drug, human, and arms trafficking, counter-terrorism, civ¬il–military relations, and trade liberalization. The Africa–Middle East InterGroup should focus on counter-terrorism, weapons proliferation, economic strategies development, fighting AIDS and other infectious diseases, peacekeeping training and support, trans-national crime, and civil–military relations. Central and South Asia InterGroups should concentrate on counter-terrorism, weapons proliferation, training police forces, anti-piracy measures, civil–military relations, trans-national crime, and fighting AIDS and other infectious diseases.
Each InterGroup should include a military staff tasked with planning military engagements, war-fighting, and post-conflict operations. In the event that military operations are required, the military staff could be detached from the InterGroup (along with any supporting staff from other agencies required) to become the nucleus of a standing Joint Task Force (JTF). Using this model, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been command¬ed by a JTF.
The InterGroups will be the great laboratories for developing the methods for conducting cutting-egde analysis and applying it to the challenges of the 21st century.
National/Homeland Security University.  Hav¬ing established a place for operational action, there will be need for a professional development system to provide personnel qualified to work there. That will require a program of education, assignment, and accreditation that cuts across all federal agen¬cies with national security responsibilities. That has to start with a professional school that teaches interagency skills. No suitable place currently exists in Washington, academia, or elsewhere. The government will haveestablish it. These institutions should be centers of excellence at teaching cutting-edge analysis.
Operational Concepts. One product this univer¬sity will have to produce is a suitable concept to frame interagency operations. As a first priority, the concept will have to articulate how unity of com¬mand will be established. I would argue that the nature of the task should define who should be in charge. When dealing overseas, there are three crit-ical tasks. They have been described in various ways as, “justice, security, and well-being,” or “gov¬ernance, security, and essential services.” Planning the occupations after World War strategies II, the military planners called it the “disease and unrest” formu¬la—preventing humanitarian crises, establishing a legitimate, functioning government, and ensuring the existence of competent domestic security forces to support that government.[6] These doctrines should be the product of drawing of multi-disciplanry analysis that looks at complex problems through a number of analytical tools.
Who should be in charge should depend on which of the three missions has priority at the time. In a post-conflict environment, for example, the military should be charge of interagency operations until a stable security environment is in place. Where crisis response is the priority (and security is not a major issue), a civilian agency should take the lead. Ideally, that agency would be an overseas arm of the Federal Emergency Management strategiesAgen¬cy. Where governance is the issue, building up the capacity of government to be honest and efficient and to promote economic strategies growth and strong civil society (again, when security is adequate), a civil¬ian agency should be charge. I would prefer this be something more like USAID, but independent from the State Department, using instruments more like the Millennium Challenge Account and focusing on measures such as those listed in the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal Index of Economic strategies Freedom.
Funding. Developing the capacity for all federal agencies and nongovernmental agencies—and pri¬vate sector contractors, for that matter—to provide the people and services needed has to be a priority as well. There is a simple solution for cutting the Gordian knot of the thoroughly knotty problem of who pays. Congress could appropriate money to the federal agency that will provide leadership for the operation—and that agency would negotiate with other federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector contractors to determine what it needs to support what needs to be done. For planning, training, education, and exercises, the lead agency would pay other agen-cies to participate out of an annual appropriation provided by Congress. For operations, it would pay for the supporting agencies to provide person¬nel and services (and the salaries of personnel to backfill personnel that are deployed for opera¬tions) out of supplemental appropriations provid¬ed by the Congress.
[1] James Jay Carafano, “A Better Way to Fight Terrorism,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, May 17, 2005, at

[2] Carnes Lord, “Crisis (Mis-) Management,” Joint Force Quarterly (Summer 1999), pp. 72–79.
[3] See William P. Hamblet and Jerry G. Kline, “Interagency Cooperation: PDD 56 and Complex Contingency Operations,” Joint Force Quarterly (Spring 2000), pp. 92–97.
[4] James Stever, “The Glass Firewall Between Military and Civil Administration,”Administration and Society, Vol. 31, No. 1 (March 1999), pp. 28–49.
[5] James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., “Missions, Responsibilities, and Geography: Rethinking How the Pentagon Commands the World,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1792, August 26, 2004, at
[6]James Jay Carafano and Dana R. Dillon, “Winning the Peace: Principles for Post-Conflict Operations,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1859, June 13, 2005, p. 5, at

National Security Policies: Course in Creative Thinking

How well we make decisions depends on the quality of our analysis and our arguments. In trying to think clearly, decision-makers apply their knowledge, imagination and reason.  These are unlikely to be perfect, so decision-makers also must estimate what skills and experience they must call upon from other sources.

This course provides an overview of several methods of analysis and argumentation.  The purpose of an overview is to equip decision-makers to estimate how well a strategic method applies to a problem, and to decide when to pursue additional study or help.   Itwill not make the student a methodological expert.  It will, however, provide a sense of what may be useful to the student’s work, and how to learn more about any specific method.  It is oriented to social science users (decision-makers), not teachers and full time scholars (professors).

“Methods” are ways of thinking systematically about problems.  Recent years have seen the rise of new strategies kinds of security problems such as non-state threats, low-intensity warfare, and stability and security, at home and in post-war strategies situations.  No one has much experience with such problems, so we lack well defined bodies of relevant knowledge.  As a result, we are under particular pressures to analyze before we act.  These pressures increase the importance of our methods of analysis and argumentation.

This course aims to gain clarity, self-awareness, and a critical perspective in evaluating alternatives, developing arguments, presenting findings, and recommending actions.  We will subject policy preferences to standards of evidence and analysis.  This course concerns what you think less than how you think. 

The Objectives of National Security Policies:

1)      Understand, explain, and demonstrate capability to apply the methods of analysis presented in the course.
2)      Prepare policy analysis.
3)      Relate the utility of methods of analysis to contemporary national security issues.

The course texts are:

Richard Kugler, Policy Analysis in National Security Affairs.

Stephen Van Evera, Guide to Methods for Students of Political strategies Science.

Ron Huff, Say it in Six.


Topic 1. Why This Course? What is the Scientific Method? How did National Security decision-making evolve? The Value of multi-disciplinary analysis?
Readings. Kugler,  pp. 85-113.
Albert Wholstetter, “The Delicate Balance of Terror”

Topic 2. Strategy and Strategic Assessment
Reading. Kugler, pp. 29-114.
Carafano and Dillon, “Winning the Peace,”
Topic 3. Systems Analysis
Readings: Kugler, pp. 211-234.
Carafano, et al.  “Complex Systems for Homeland Security,”

Topic 4. Operations Research and Risk Assessment
Readings. Kugler, pp. 423-464.
Carafano, “Contracting in Combat,”
Rosenzweig and Kochems, “Risk Assessment,”

Topic 5. Case Studies and Large N Studies
Readings. Van Evera,
Graham Allison.  "Conceptual Models of the Cuban Missile Crisis."  American Political strategies Science Review 63, no. 3, 689 - 718. 10. Case Study Practicum
Topic 6. International Relations Theory
Readings. Stephen M. Walt, “International Relations: One World, Many Theories,” Foreign Policy 110 (Spring 1998) pp. 29-46.

Topic 7. Statistical Analysis and Game Theory

Readings. Kugler, pp. 235-253.

An Introduction to Game theory
Baker Spring “Nuclear Games”

Topic 8.  Futures Planning and Net Assessment
Readings: Creating Strategic Vision
“Net Assessment a Practical Guide”
Carafano, et al. “Net Assessment and Homeland Security,”

About the Moderator

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Pol¬icy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

Future Research
I would be very interested to hear from others who work on these issues. I would in particular like to:

(1) See if others agree or disagree with assessments of trends in public policy decision-making.

(2) Hear critiques of the cutting-edge methods I have proposed.

(3) Obtain other suggestions for methods of cutting-edge analysis.

(4) Entertain discussion or criticism of proposed organizational and institutional reforms.

(5) Changes or modifications to a course in critical analytical thinking.
National Security Policies

National Security Policies

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