Summary of National Security Overview Course

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The purpose of this course is to provide baseline information on US national security objectives, structures and processes involved in the National Security Strategy. It also highlights why interagency coordination is essential for success, challenges of interagency coordination, and some insights on successful interagency collaboration.

National security objectives are provided in many different forms, but the National Security Strategy, and its complementary national strategies on terrorism, WMD, and homeland security, establish the baseline for US objectives. Many departments and agencies have a role in implementing national security objectives, whether they focus on diplomacy, the economy, communications, security, law enforcement, or intelligence. Working together using all elements of power across all phases of the policy process, including coordination with Congress, increases the chance of achieving national security objectives.

In particular, interagency coordination is necessary in providing foreign assistance, developing and implementing trade policy, countering transnational challenges, and responding to humanitarian or stability crises. It is important for national security professionals to focus on common objectives, increase their understanding of interagency functions, appreciate other perspectives than their own, and develop solid working relationships with their counterparts to improve the execution of national security objectives. They should understand and support the mission of key interagency organizations, should enthusiastically support efforts to produce "whole-of-government" plans, and should seek to incorporate more interagency input into key internal agency processes.

In addition to this overview course, national security professionals should seek out additional information, contacts, and training for national security issues where they identify gaps. Finally, it is recommended that national security professionals review this on a yearly basis, since it will be updated with additional information and revised as national security objectives adapt to a changing national security environment.