National Security Decision Making

National Security Decision Making (NSDM) is designed to engage senior-rank students in the current and future complexities of a rapidly evolving national and international security environment. The course offers a broad interdisciplinary curriculum in contemporary security studies that encompasses a diverse spectrum of global and regional issues and perspectives, but with emphasis on U.S. decision-making challenges and processes at the national strategic level.

The 10-week NSDM course is part of NWC's yearlong resident program and is designed to prepare senior level joint and international officers and civilians for executive positions in large national security organizations.
U.S. Naval War College (NWC) students provide a presentation for retired Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Paula Dobriansky, senior fellow for Harvard University’s JFK Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and David Chu, president of the Institute for Defense Analyses and former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, during NWC’s National Security Decision Making (NSDM) course final exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl/Released)

About the Course

This eight-credit hour courses provide a broad interdisciplinary foundation in contemporary security studies including international relations, regional studies, foreign policy analysis, and decision making. The curriculum consists of three sub-courses and a culminating exercise:

  • Security Strategies
  • Policy Analysis
  • Decision Making
  • NSDM Final Exercise (FX)

Capstone FX

At the end of NSDM, each seminar acts as a national strategic planning working group to produce and present a capstone FX. Student seminars simulate the work of a national strategic planning team in which the objective is to produce an executive-level strategic estimate of the longer-term future global security environment and the main tenants of a national security strategy and a nested national military strategy to advance U.S. national interests in this future environment. They must also develop operating concepts for how the future joint force will operate, a joint force structure within budget constraints, and an implementation case study.

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