The National Security Affairs (NSA) Department (formerly the National Security Decision Making (NSDM) Department) educates Naval War College students in the effective selection and leadership of military forces within the constraints of available national resources. In support of this primary objective, the department provides instruction in the strategic planning and selection of future military forces, and their potential use as a tool of national power, the nature of economic, political, organizational, and behavioral factors that affect the selection and command of military forces; and in using expanded critical thinking skills to formulate and execute strategy to achieve desired outcomes within complex national security organizations.
The National Security Affairs Department considers all major defense planning cases from integrated joint, and allied perspective. NSA examines national strategy, stressing its economic, political-diplomatic, and military components, and then, proceeding across the spectrum of conflict, studies specific regions, theaters, and decisions to identify joint, i.e., multi-service, force requirements, deficiencies, problems, alternatives, and risks. The department's curriculum realistically examines the strengths and weaknesses of the national command structure, relying on extensive case studies of contingencies such as Lebanon, GWOT, Haiti, Cuban Missile Crisis, North Korea, Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, as well as policy decisions regarding the signing of treaties and the acquisition of weapon systems.
Goals and Objectives
The National Security Affairs Department has two distinct courses: the senior course - National Security Decision Making (NSDM) and the intermediate course - Theater Security Decision Making (TSDM). During the course of the trimester, emphasis is placed on preparation of military and civilian students for senior level command and staff assignments. The selection of course objectives and instructional materials is guided by the belief that effective, senior level executives do not apply discrete academic disciplines to national security problems, but instead are required to synthesize these disciplines into comprehensive decision-making and implementation strategy. For this reason, the department uses an interdisciplinary approach which synthesizes the analytical insights of economics, political science, management theory, strategy, operations research, leadership, organizational psychology, and other related disciplines. Moreover, the appropriate executive point of view is considered to be an integrative one which draws on both academic instruction and professional experience. In all teaching situations, students apply these concepts to the most critical problems now facing national security planners. Areas selected for special attention include:
- The national interests, objectives, and strategies of the United States, its major allies, friends, and potential adversaries.
- The changing domestic and international economic, political, military, and organizational environment affecting national security.
- The context of and political, organizational, and behavioral influences on national security decision making and implementation.
- The security implication of international economic trends on international relations including relations between industrialized and lesser developed nations.
- Joint military force-planning concepts, issues, and choices.
- Formulation of a National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy, and total defense posture for the twenty-first century with supporting rationale.
- The structure and process for planning and programming joint forces and the interface of that process with the federal budget process.
- A conceptual understanding of the tools for critical thinking and deciding among complex defense issue alternatives.
- Selecting strategies to achieve key goals from a position of leadership within complex national security organizations.
The senior course, NSDM, and intermediate course, TSDM, are divided into three sub-courses: Leadership Concepts, Policy Analysis and Security Strategies. The three sub-courses, taught in parallel during the trimester, use the seminar method to create a challenging classroom environment. Together, they encourage students to develop three related conceptual frameworks for assessing national security issues:
- A framework for the assessment of the complex factors critical to development of strategy, the sizing and structuring of future forces, and the allocation of scarce defense resources.
- A framework that provides a systematic approach to decision making and to formulating a strategy for implementation of decisions in a large, complex organization within the national security environment.
- A framework for identifying the context and political, organizational, and behavioral influences that shape decision making within the national security environment.
Students apply concepts from diverse readings to a series of real cases or issues drawn from the national security environment. The student workload in the National Security Affairs Department is structured to require approximately 45 hours of in-class and out-of-class effort each week.
Each of the sub-courses has oral and written assignments which ensure a focused and systematic exchange of views between faculty members and students. While some assignments--such as seminar exercises in crisis response, negotiations, regional strategic assessments, national military strategy and total force planning--are ungraded, each sub-course culminates in an extensive written examination or paper which requires students to synthesize, integrate, and apply course concepts to real world problems Grading criteria and appeal procedures for this paper and all examinations are outlined in the course syllabus.
Resident Course Descriptions
|National Security Decision Making
|College of Naval Warfare
|Naval Command College
|Preparation of senior level officers and civilians for executive positions in large national security organizations. Major attention is given to joint and allied perspectives at the theater level or above. Studies stress the growing complexity of decision making at higher levels of responsibility and authority. Graduates will enhance their ability to analyze rigorously the proposals of their staffs, to choose wisely among competing strategies, to integrate decisions into comprehensive plans of action, and then to implement their plans through effective leadership of subordinate organizations.
|Theater Security Decision Making
|College of Naval Command and Staff
|Naval Staff College
|Preparation of mid-grade officers and civilians for mid-level positions in national security organizations. Major attention is paid to development of a staff perspective of the resource allocation process. The course should increase each student's understanding of economic, political, military, and national issues which affect force planning decisions. Graduates will deepen their ability to assess complex, resource-constrained issues of national security, to challenge assumptions, to lead change and to communicate effectively as commanding officers and staff members in the decision-making structure.
|Reserve Officer National Security Decision Making
|90 Navy/Marine Corps/Army/Air Force/Coast Guard Reserve Officers
|Abbreviated version of College of Naval Command and Staff course. Major attention focuses on joint and combined perspectives at the theater level or above. The intent is to better prepare senior officers of reserve components to advise seniors at the major command level.