National Security Definition

President Kennedy in a crowded Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The current national security system established in 1947 resulted from a need for more effective and integrated national security advice, policy, and actions. Over time national security structures, processes, and even the definition, have changed to suit the priorities of individual Presidents and their advisors. The 2006 National Security Strategy states that our most solemn obligation is to protect the security of the American people. As defined by National Security Presidential Directive-1, "National security includes the defense of the United States of America, protection of our constitutional system of government, and the advancement of United States interests around the globe. National security also depends on America's opportunity to prosper in the world economy." NSPD-1 also emphasizes the necessity to integrate domestic, foreign, military, intelligence, and economics policies as they pertain to national security. Each President determines the boundaries for national security issues in both traditional and non-traditional areas. Additionally, Congress has significant influence on the scope of the national security agenda through its oversight and budgetary roles.

The July 2007 National Strategy for the Development of Security Professionals emphasized that sharp distinctions between "foreign" and "domestic" no longer apply to today's complex national security environment. As such, that strategy considers "national security" to include both traditional national security and homeland security missions. Pandemics, border control, and energy are just a few non-traditional areas that are now viewed through a national security lens. It is clear that the scope of national security is complex with many different players, priorities, and roles. The definition of "national security" has evolved as America's perspective on the world around it has changed and it will continue to evolve over time.