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A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security

December 11, 2018

Richard Danzig, former Secretary of the Navy
Avril Haines, former Deputy National Security Advisor
Jim Miller, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory Senior Fellows joined the school for a discussion on their co-authored paper “A Preface to Strategy: The Foundations of American National Security” that describes how a new global strategic environment should change premises that underpin American strategies and argues for the constant, energetic, and imaginative enhancement of the strengths from which American power derives.

Lead author Richard Danzig shared historical context on the US national security strategy that developed post-World War II. Danzig noted that decision makers began to look at four domains of warfare – the air, sea, undersea and land and military conflict as the core of national security. He also called to attention the shift in technology and economic development and the significant implications it had for national security strategy.  While the US is still a preeminent economic power, strategies of spending in order to dominate strategically and in national security are no longer to be as successful as in the past, he said.

Robert Work offered insight on the changes in the expansion of geography and the domains of warfare. As one of the most open societies in the world, the US has shifted from being one of the most secure nations from within its territories to being one of the most vulnerable, he said. He noted that the US has seen a decline in the traditional powers of its military. Looking at the challenges the US has had in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria shows that the military now has the ability to apply violence more than any other military in history, Work said.

Avril Haines addressed divisions along party ideologies, socioeconomic lines, race, gender, and religion that have led to an erosion of domestic consensus. One example she noted was the US response to Russian interference in the 2016 US election and how the partisan atmosphere limited the nation’s ability to address the issue. The new premises that would underpin a national strategy need to recognize the critical strengths of the US that include America’s values, the settled system of governments and human capital, among others, she said.

Concluding the discussion, Jim Miller emphasized that the two major areas in which the US needs to focus its attention are biosecurity and cybersecurity. Factors of the economy and technology were also discussed.

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