Small Wars Journal

national security strategy

Starting With “Why”: The National Security Strategy and America’s National Interests SWJED Wed, 12/18/2019 - 1:35pm
This article provides an analysis of the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS) and the national interests described within. First, this article discusses American interests in the context of past and then details a logical categorization of these interests by criticality (vital, important, or peripheral). Finally, this article discusses the implications of these interests through a regional lens.

Integrating National Defense and Security Strategies to Win Complex Wars

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 5:34pm
As a follow-on to "The US National Security Strategy Needs Combined Effects", this paper shows how combinations of US National Security Strategy (NSS) effects can integrate US National Defense Strategy (NDS) objectives to create strategically significant advantages.

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A Memo for the President: The Path 2000 to 2060

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 11:58am
This essay is a fictional memo set in the year 2060 written by a future U.S. national security advisor to a future president that recounts the preceding four decades of U.S. military involvement. The memo follows the post-mortem assessment used by LTC Matt Cavanaugh, itself an homage to retired Major General Dunlap’s essay. Unlike those pieces, however, this essay presents a more optimistic view based on a defense & intelligence community that made hard decisions and difficult investments in the 2020s which allowed the U.S. armed forces to prevail in contested conflicts throughout the rest of the century.

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Building Partner Capability and Capacity Post-NDAA 2017: A Practical Approach

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:17am
If DoD is serious about building viable partners, it must step back and reevaluate how it is currently viewing the future state of those partners and developing plans to move that partner towards the desired future state. SC is no longer a side mission, the mission in-between wars to shape, it has moved to the steady-state across the Range of Military Operations and is now a critical strategic tool that can provide us advantages over our adversaries if applied correctly.

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The National Defense Strategy A Year Later: A Small Wars Journal Discussion with Elbridge Colby SWJED Sat, 01/19/2019 - 5:08am
Elbridge Colby is Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017 to 2018, during which time he served as the lead official in the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy and the principal DOD representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy.
Rule of Law Wins in the Overlap of Law and Culture SWJED Thu, 11/01/2018 - 12:44am
Several months after the Niger ambush, the President of the United States issued the 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS). The 2017 NSS strategy toward Africa reiterates the rule of law as a priority. Rule of law is integral to the military’s mission, but rule of law requires an understanding of operational law, particularly local law and cultural norms.

Special Forces at the Lion’s Tail: Managing Risk in the Use of Special Operations Forces and the Application of Law

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 9:24am
The 2017 NSS allows undue risk. A parsing of the NSS strategy toward Africa helps make the point: the NSS defers to ends and means and leaves ways unclear. The Lykke model of military strategy (ways to apply means to ends) is brilliant in its simplicity. But this model fails as a construct of national strategy.

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Strengths of the Current National Security Strategy SWJED Mon, 07/16/2018 - 4:55am
The strengths of the current national security strategy in comparison to its two predecessors are: the comprehensive understanding of how the United States fits into the structure of the international system and the recognition that developing culture-specific solutions for state actors in the international system is better than forcing systems to conform to U.S. standards and values.