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This lesson provides an overview of the national security objectives of the United States.
At the end of this lesson, you will be able to describe:
- The objectives of the 2006 National Security Strategy.
- The objectives of the 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.
- The objectives of the 2002 National Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- The objectives of the 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security.
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This lesson takes approximately 25 minutes to complete.
National Security Objectives
The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act states that the comprehensive national security strategy should include:
- Worldwide national security interests, goals, and objectives
- Foreign policy, worldwide commitments, and national defense capabilities necessary to deter aggression and implement the strategy
- Proposed uses of the elements of national power
- Adequacy of U.S. capabilities to carry out the national security strategy
The U.S. approach to national security has changed over time, shifting from isolationism, to regional policies, to significant engagment in world affairs after World War II. During the Cold War, U.S. strategy centered around the concept of containment. More recently, the U.S. approach has been shaped by two competing views—multilateralism and unilateralism. The approach, along with objectives and resources, are essential to forming a strategy for national security.
The President provides guidance on national security objectives in various forms. National strategies, executive orders, National Security or Homeland Security Presidential Directives, and even Presidential speeches can be used to convey both strategic vision and policy objectives.
The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act requires the President to transmit to Congress each year a "comprehensive report on the national security strategy of the United States." The National Security Strategy (NSS) fulfills this legislative requirement, but is not typically updated on an annual basis.
In addition to the NSS, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, the National Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the National Strategy for Homeland Security comprise the key strategy documents that form the basis for subordinate policy guidance, implementation plans, budgets, execution, and assessment of national security activities. The objectives from each key national strategy will be covered in this lesson.
These strategies reflect national interests and provide a framework for subordinate strategies that address particular national security objectives or issues.
National Security Strategy - Overview
The ultimate goal is to provide enduring security for the American people.
The National Security Strategy articulates the strategic vision for U.S. vital interests, goals and objectives in foreign policy, global commitments and national defense capabilities.
The President issued the latest National Security Strategy in March 2006. The strategy is founded upon two pillars:
- Promoting freedom, justice, and human dignity
- Confronting the challenges of our time by leading a growing community of democracies
The NSS articulates U.S. policy to:
- Seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
- Help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.
It further states that achieving these goals is the best way to provide enduring security for the American people and will require the work of generations. Solving the challenges of our time will take effective multinational efforts and American leadership.
National Security Strategy - Essential Tasks
The President's National Security Strategy focuses on nine essential tasks. Below is a brief summary of each task. Be sure to read the tasks in full in the document. View National Security Strategy pdf.
Champion aspirations for human dignity
The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals.
Strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends
Defeating terrorism requires a long-term strategy and a break from old patterns. We are fighting a new enemy with global reach. The United States can no longer simply rely on deterrence to keep the terrorists at bay or defensive measures to thwart them at the last moment. The fight must be taken to the enemy, to keep them on the run. To succeed in our own efforts, we need the support and concerted action of friends and allies. We must join with others to deny the terrorists what they need to survive: safe haven, financial support, and the support and protection that certain nation-states historically have given them.
Work with others to defuse regional conflicts
Regional conflicts are a bitter legacy from previous decades that continue to affect our national security interests today. Regional conflicts do not stay isolated for long and often spread or devolve into humanitarian tragedy or anarchy. Outside parties can exploit them to further other ends, much as al-Qaida exploited the civil war in Afghanistan. This means that even if the United States does not have a direct stake in a particular conflict, our interests are likely to be affected over time. The Administration’s strategy for addressing regional conflicts includes three levels of engagement: conflict prevention and resolution; conflict intervention; and post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.
Prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.
Ignite a new era of global economic growth through the free markets and free trade
Promoting free and fair trade has long been a bedrock tenet of American foreign policy. Greater economic freedom is ultimately inseparable from political liberty. Economic freedom empowers individuals, and empowered individuals increasingly demand greater political freedom. Greater economic freedom also leads to greater economic opportunity and prosperity for everyone. History has judged the market economy as the single most effective economic system and the greatest antidote to poverty. To expand economic liberty and prosperity, the United States promotes free and fair trade, open markets, a stable financial system, the integration of the global economy, and secure, clean energy development.
Expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy
Helping the world's poor is a strategic priority and a moral imperative. Economic development, responsible governance, and individual liberty are intimately connected. Past foreign assistance to corrupt and ineffective governments failed to help the populations in greatest need. Instead, it often impeded democratic reform and encouraged corruption. The United States must promote development programs that achieve measurable results—rewarding reforms, encouraging transparency, and improving people's lives. Led by the United States, the international community has endorsed this approach in the Monterrey Consensus.
Develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power
Relations with the most powerful countries in the world are central to our national security strategy. Our priority is pursuing American interests within cooperative relationships, particularly with our oldest and closest friends and allies. At the same time, we must seize the opportunity—unusual in historical terms—of an absence of fundamental conflict between the great powers. Another priority, therefore, is preventing the reemergence of the great power rivalries that divided the world in previous eras. New times demand new approaches, flexible enough to permit effective action even when there are reasonable differences of opinions among friends, yet strong enough to confront the challenges the world faces.
Transform America's national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century
The major institutions of American national security were designed in a different era to meet different challenges. They must be transformed. At home, we will sustain the ongoing transformation in the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Intelligence Community; continue to reorient the Department of State towards transformational diplomacy; and improve the capacity of agencies to plan, prepare, coordinate, integrate, and execute responses. Abroad, we will work with our allies to promote meaningful reform of the U.N.; enhance the role of democracies and democracy promotion throughout international and multilateral institutions; and establish results-oriented partnerships to meet new challenges and opportunities.
Engage the opportunities and confront the challenges of globalization
Globalization presents many opportunities. Much of the world's prosperity and improved living standards in recent years is derived from the expansion of global trade, investment, information, and technology. The United States has been a leader in promoting these developments, and we believe they have significantly improved the quality of life of the American people and people the world over. Other nations have embraced these opportunities and have likewise benefited. Globalization has also helped the advance of democracy by extending the marketplace of ideas and the ideals of liberty.
National Strategy for Combating Terrorism - Strategic Vision
The President issued the latest National Strategy for Combating Terrorism in September 2006. It builds directly from the 2006 NSS and updates the February 2003 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.
From the beginning, the War on Terror has been both a battle of arms and a battle of ideas - " a fight against the terrorists and their ideology." In the short run, the fight involves the application of all instruments of national power and influence to kill or capture the terrorists; deny them safehaven and control of any nation; prevent them from gaining access to WMD; render potential terrorist targets less attractive by strengthening security; and cut off their sources of funding and other resources they need to operate and survive.
In the long run, winning the War on Terror means winning the battle of ideas. The United States will continue to lead an expansive international effort in pursuit of a two-pronged vision:
- The defeat of violent extremism as a threat to our way of life as a free and open society; and
- The creation of a global environment inhospitable to violent extremists and all who support them.
Long-term Approach to Combating Terrorism: Advancing Effective Democracy
The long-term solution for winning the War on Terror is the advancement of freedom and human dignity through effective democracy. This is the battle of ideas. The terrorism we confront today springs from political alienation, grievances that can be blamed on others, subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation, and an ideology that justifies murder. Defeating terrorism in the long run requires that each of these factors be addressed. Effective democracy provides a counter to each, diminishing the underlying conditions terrorists seek to exploit.
The strategy to counter the terrorists' ideology must empower the very people terrorists most want to exploit: the faithful followers of Islam. We will continue to support political reforms that empower peaceful Muslims to practice and interpret their faith. We will work to undermine the ideological underpinnings of violent Islamic extremism and gain the support of non-violent Muslims around the world. Responsible Islamic leaders need to denounce an ideology that distorts and exploits Islam to justify the murder of innocent people and defiles a proud religion.
Short-term Approaches to Combat Terrorism
There are four priorities of action in the short term:
- Prevent Attacks
- Deny WMD
- Deny Support and Sanctuary
- Eliminate Safehavens
To create the space and time for the long-term solution to take root, there are four priorities of action in the short term.
- Prevent attacks by terrorist networks by attacking terrorists and their capacity to operate; denying terrorists entry to the United States and disrupting their travel internationally; and defending potential targets of attack, particularly critical infrastructure and key resources.
- Deny WMD to rogue states and terrorist allies who seek to use them. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists is one of the gravest threats we face. The U.S. approach to combat WMD terrorism hinges on six objectives:
- Determine terrorists' intentions, capabilities, and plans to develop or acquire WMD
- Deny terrorists access to the materials, expertise, and other enabling capabilities required to develop WMD
- Deter terrorists from employing WMD
- Detect and disrupt terrorists' attempted movement of WMD-related materials, weapons, and personnel
- Prevent and respond to a WMD-related terrorist attack
- Define the nature and source of a terrorist-employed WMD device
- Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states by ending state sponsorship of terrorism and disrupting the flow of resources from rogue states to terrorists.
- Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror by eliminating physical and virtual (legal, cyber, financial) safe havens.
Institutionalizing the Strategy for Combating Terrorism
During the Cold War we created an array of domestic and international institutions and enduring partnerships to defeat the threat of communism. Today, we require similar transformational structures to carry forward the fight against terror and to help ensure our ultimate success:
- Establish and maintain international standards of accountability.
- Strengthen coalitions and partnerships.
- Enhance government architecture and interagency collaboration.
- Foster intellectual and human capital.
There is also a need for all elements of our Nation - " from Federal, State, and local governments to the private sector to local communities and individual citizens - " to help create and share responsibilities in a Culture of Preparedness. This Culture of Preparedness, which applies to all catastrophes and all hazards, natural or man-made, rests on four principles: a shared acknowledgement of the certainty of future catastrophes and that creating a prepared Nation will be a continuing challenge; the importance of initiative and accountability at all levels of society; the role of citizen and community preparedness; and finally, the roles of each level of government and the private sector in creating a prepared Nation.
National Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
The President issued the National Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction in December 2002. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - "nuclear, biological, and chemical" - in the possession of hostile states and terrorists present one of the greatest security challenges facing the United States. An effective strategy for countering WMD is an integral component of the National Security Strategy.
The National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction has three principal pillars:
- Counterproliferation to Combat WMD Use
- Strengthened Nonproliferation to Combat WMD Proliferation
- Consequence Management to Respond to WMD Use
We cannot always be successful in preventing and containing the proliferation of WMD. Therefore, the United States must possess the full range of operational capabilities to counter the threat and use of WMD by states and terrorists against the United States, our military forces, and friends and allies. Counterproliferation includes:
Interdiction: We must enhance the capabilities of our military, intelligence, technical, and law enforcement communities to prevent the movement of WMD materials, technology, and expertise to hostile states and terrorist organizations.
Deterrence: A strong declaratory policy, political tools, and effective military forces, reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction, and domestic law enforcement capabilities, are essential elements of our contemporary deterrent posture. The United States reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.
Defense and Mitigation: U.S. military forces and appropriate civilian agencies must have the capability to defend against WMD-armed adversaries. This requires capabilities to detect and destroy an adversary's WMD assets before these weapons are used. In addition, robust active and passive defenses and mitigation measures must be in place to enable U.S. military forces and appropriate civilian agencies to accomplish their missions, and to assist friends and allies when WMD are used. Finally, U.S. military forces and domestic law enforcement agencies as appropriate must stand ready to respond against the source of any WMD attack. The primary objective of a response is to disrupt an imminent attack or an attack in progress, and eliminate the threat of future attacks.
- Active Nonproliferation Diplomacy
- Multilateral Regimes
- Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Cooperation
- Controls on Nuclear Materials
- U.S. Export Controls
- Nonproliferation Sanctions
Nonproliferation includes the following components:
Active Nonproliferation Diplomacy: The United States will actively employ diplomatic approaches in bilateral and multilateral settings in pursuit of our nonproliferation goals. We must dissuade supplier states from cooperating with proliferant states and induce proliferant states to end their WMD and missile programs. We will hold countries responsible for complying with their commitments. In addition, we will continue to build coalitions to support our efforts, as well as to seek their increased support for nonproliferation and threat reduction cooperation programs.
Multilateral Regimes: The United States will work to improve the effectiveness of existing nonproliferation and arms control regimes and promote new agreements that serve our goals. Overall, we seek to cultivate an international environment that is more conducive to nonproliferation.
Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Cooperation: The United States pursues a wide range of programs designed to address the proliferation threat stemming from the large quantities of Soviet-legacy WMD and missile-related expertise and materials. In addition, we will work with other states to improve the security of their WMD-related materials.
Controls on Nuclear Materials: The United States will continue to discourage the worldwide accumulation of separated plutonium and to minimize the use of highly-enriched uranium and will work in collaboration with international partners to develop recycle and fuel treatment technologies that are cleaner, more efficient, less waste-intensive, and more proliferation-resistant.
U.S. Export Controls: We must ensure that the implementation of U.S. export controls furthers our nonproliferation and other national security goals, while recognizing the realities that American businesses face in the increasingly globalized marketplace. Our overall goal is to focus our resources on truly sensitive exports to hostile states or those that engage in onward proliferation, while removing unnecessary barriers in the global marketplace.
Nonproliferation Sanctions: We will develop a comprehensive sanctions policy to better integrate sanctions into our overall strategy and work with Congress to consolidate and modify existing sanctions legislation.
WMD Consequence Management
As part of defending the American homeland, the United States must be fully prepared to respond to the consequences of WMD use on our soil, whether by hostile states or by terrorists. We must also be prepared to respond to the effects of WMD use against our forces deployed abroad, and to assist friends and allies. The National Strategy for Homeland Security discusses U.S. Government programs to deal with the consequences of the use of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon in the United States. A number of these programs offer training, planning, and assistance to state and local governments. To maximize their effectiveness, these efforts need to be integrated and comprehensive. Our first responders must have the full range of protective, medical, and remediation tools to identify, assess, and respond rapidly to a WMD event on our territory. Federal, state and local governments, as well as friends and allies should develop emergency preparedness and consequence management capabilities, which includes planning, training, and equipment requirements.
Integrating Combating WMD Pillars
The following critical enabling functions serve to integrate the three Combating WMD pillars:
Improved Intelligence Collection and Analysis: A more accurate and complete understanding of the full range of WMD threats is, and will remain, among the highest U.S. intelligence priorities. Particular emphasis must be accorded to improving: intelligence regarding WMD-related facilities and activities; interaction among U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and military agencies; and intelligence cooperation with friends and allies.
Research and Development: The United States has a critical need for cutting-edge technology that can quickly and effectively detect, analyze, facilitate interdiction of, defend against, defeat, and mitigate the consequences of WMD.
Strengthened International Cooperation: WMD represent a threat not just to the United States, but also to our friends and allies and the broader international community. For this reason, it is vital that we work closely with like-minded countries on all elements of our comprehensive proliferation strategy.
Targeted Strategies Against Proliferants: All elements of the overall U.S. strategy to combat WMD must be brought to bear in targeted strategies against supplier and recipient states of WMD proliferation concern, as well as against terrorist groups which seek to acquire WMD. Because each proliferant regime is different, we will pursue country-specific strategies. These strategies must also take into account the growing cooperation among proliferant states. The full range of counterproliferation, nonproliferation, and consequence management measures must be brought to bear against the WMD terrorist threat, just as they are against states of greatest proliferation concern.
Best Practice: Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
The National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction recognized the need for more robust tools to stop proliferation of WMD around the world, and specifically identified interdiction as an area for greater focus. To achieve these objectives, President Bush launched the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) on May 31, 2003 to create a global effort to stop trafficking of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. PSI is an innovative and proactive approach to preventing proliferation that relies on voluntary actions by states that are consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks. Today, more than 90 countries around the world recognize the need for cooperative action and support PSI.
One example of the Proliferation Security Initiative's success occurred in February 2007, when government and industry entities in four PSI partner nations worked together to interdict equipment bound for Syria—equipment that could have been used to test ballistic missile components. A firm in one nation had manufactured the equipment. A firm in another nation was the intermediary that sold it to Syria. The shipping company was flagged in a third nation. Customs officials at the port of a fourth nation were alerted to offload and inspect the equipment—and send it back to the country of origin.
Overview of the National Strategy for Homeland Security
The purpose of the National Strategy for Homeland Security is to guide, organize, and unify our Nation's homeland security efforts. It complements both the National Security Strategy and the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism and provides a common framework by which our entire Nation should focus its efforts on the following four goals:
- Prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks;
- Protect the American people, our critical infrastructure, and key resources;
- Respond to and recover from incidents that do occur; and
- Continue to strengthen the foundation to ensure our long-term success.
Homeland security requires a truly national effort, with shared goals and responsibilities for protecting the American people and achieving a more secure Homeland that sustains our way of life as a free, prosperous, and welcoming America.
National Strategy for Homeland Security Objectives
National Strategy for Homeland Security Objectives:
- Prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks in the United States
- Protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources
- Respond to and recover from incidents
To prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks in the United States, we will:
- Deny terrorists, their weapons, and other terror-related materials entry to the Homeland by preventing terrorist exploitation of both legitimate and illicit pathways into the Homeland
- Disrupt terrorists and their capacity to operate in the United States by uncovering terrorist activity within our borders and taking swift and effective action to preempt and disrupt their activities and enterprises
- Prevent violent Islamic extremist radicalization in the United States by engaging key communities as partners in the War on Terror, identify and counter the sources of radicalization, enhancing Federal, State, local, and Tribal government capacities to address radicalization, and continuing to advance our understanding of radicalization
To protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources, we will:
- Deter state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist groups, and other non-state actors who support or facilitate terrorism by decreasing the likelihood of success and changing their motivational calculus
- Mitigate the Nation's vulnerability to acts of terrorism, other man-made threats, and natural disasters by ensuring the structural and operational resilience of our critical infrastructure and key resources and by further protecting the American people through medical preparedness (biosurveillance, countermeasure distribution, mass casualty care, and community resilience)
- Minimize the consequences of the occurrence of terrorist attacks and natural disasters
To respond to and recover from incidents, we will:
- Strengthen the foundation for an effective national response by clarifying roles and missions, strengthening doctrine, developing joint planning and training processes, and conducting advance readiness activities
- Assess the situation and take initial action, which includes prioritizing and coordinating initial actions to mitigate consequences, effectively mobilizing and deploying people, resources, and capabilities, and anticipating additional support that may be needed
- Expand operational capabilities by effectively coordinating requests for additional support, and integrating resources and capabilities
- Commence short-term recovery actions to stabilize the affected area and demobilize assets
- Ensure an effective transition to long-term rebuilding and revitalization efforts by focusing on restoring community services and the economy, organizing planning efforts among key players, facilitating long-term assistance for displaced victims, and rebuilding critical infrastructure
Ensuring Long-Term Success in Homeland Security
To help fulfill Homeland Security responsibilities over the long term, we will continue to strengthen the principles, systems, structures, and institutions that cut across the homeland security enterprise. The following areas need to be addressed for long-term success:
- Develop and apply a risk-based framework across all homeland security efforts to identify and assess potential hazards, determine acceptable levels of risk, and prioritize and allocate resources
- Foster a Culture of Preparedness that permeates all levels of our society - " from individual citizens, businesses, and non-profit organizations to Federal, State, local, and Tribal government officials and authorities
- Institutionalize a comprehensive Homeland Security Management System that covers four phases of activity: guidance, planning, execution, and assessment and evaluation
- Develop a comprehensive approach that will help Federal, State, local, and Tribal authorities manage incidents across all homeland security efforts
- Use U.S. advantages in the realm of science and technology to encourage innovative research and development to assist in protecting and defending against the range of natural and man-made threats confronting the Homeland
- Leverage all instruments of national power and influence (diplomatic, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement) to achieve objectives
- Partner with Congress to secure the Homeland and protect the American people
Instructions: Review the statements below. Indicate if the statement is true or false. Click on the Submit button when you are finished.
The 1947 National Security Act required the President to produce a National Security Strategy.
An ultimate goal of U.S. national security policy is to end tyranny.
The nine essential tasks in the NSS do not cover economic concerns.
In the short term, the War on Terror is a battle of arms.
The individual citizen has little responsibilities in the strategy for combating terrorism.
Interdiction is a key component of nonproliferation.
Improved intelligence, research and development, international cooperation, and targeted strategies are critical enabling functions that support the combating WMD strategy.
An overarching goal of the Homeland Security Strategy is to sustain our way of life as a free, prosperous, and welcoming America.
The Homeland Security Management System has three phases of activity: guidance, planning, and assessment and evaluation.
This lesson presented the following topics:
- The objectives of the 2006 National Security Strategy.
- The objectives of the 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.
- The objectives of the 2002 National Strategy for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.
- The objectives of the 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security.
The next lesson presents the roles and functions of key national security players.