Theater Security Decision Making

The Theater Security Decision Making (TSDM) course, taught in our Fleet Seminar Program and Web-Enabled Program is designed to engage intermediate-level military officers and U.S. Government civilians in the challenging complexities of the contemporary national security environment. Particular emphasis is given to understanding decision making challenges and processes at the theater-strategic level of the combatant commands.

U.S. Naval War College students in the National Security Affairs department participate in the National Security Decision Making Final Exercise in the college's Spruance auditorium.
U.S. Naval War College students in the National Security Affairs department participate in the National Security Decision Making Final Exercise in the college's Spruance auditorium. The final exercise for the course is a competition among student seminar teams with the winning group presented the James V. Forrestal Award for Excellence in Strategy Development and Force Planning. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jess Lewis/released)

In TSDM, you will study concepts and apply to case studies of complex real-world issues. Selection of course concepts and materials is predicated on the belief that an individual in a command position or serving in a large, complex national security organization cannot simply rely on discrete disciplines, but rather needs to apply many disciplines relevant to different situations. For this reason, the TSDM course employs a multi-disciplinary approach, drawing on selected concepts from political science, international relations, strategy, leadership, psychology, management, economics, anthropology, and other cognate disciplines. All instruction seeks to utilize the broad academic and professional experience of our students and focuses on making and implementing critical decisions within the command and staff environment.

Areas selected for special attention are:

  • National defense strategies and military strategic concepts.
  • An exploration of the “whole of government” approach of national power to include economic, diplomatic, information, and military tools.
  • The roles and challenges of the different U.S. combatant commands.
  • Regional knowledge and cultural awareness from a combatant commander’s perspective.
  • An understanding of the tools associated with critical thinking and deciding among complex national security policy alternatives.
  • Clear and effective writing and briefing skills.
  • Organizational structures, processes, and procedures and the skills necessary to excel in large, complex organizations.
  • Management techniques and skills that complement leadership skills.
  • The evolving domestic and international economic, political, and military environments affecting theater security.
  • The defense resource planning and allocation process and its relationship to staff functions.