Book launch: Two Wheels and Two Questions: A Journey through America in Search of Personal and National Identity, by PNSR Senior Associate Christopher Holshek

January 29, 2011 in News, Report

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) today launched “Two Wheels and Two Questions: A Journey through America in Search of Personal and National Identity,” a personal memoir by PNSR Senior Associate Christopher Holshek (Colonel, US Army, retired) reflecting on America and its place in the world. First written as a PNSR blog and then summarized in a Huffington Post article, “America and the Long Goodbye,” the book chronicles Chris Holshek’s reflections and experiences during an extended motorcycle tour across America following his retirement from the military in early 2010.

In addition to his work as a PNSR Senior Associate, Chris Holshek is a civilian civil-military adviser with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Defense Institution Reform Initiative. While in the Army he served in civil-military operations in numerous positions, including command of the first civil affairs battalion to deploy to Iraq in support of Army, Marine and British forces, and as a staff officer for United Nations multinational peacekeeping missions. He participated in the development of Army, Joint, NATO, and UN policies and doctrine for civil-military, stability, and interagency operations, as well as contributed to the State Department’s recent Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

“Chris Holshek’s personal reflections on his 30-year service in the U.S. Army and his journey across America are personal testaments to why national security transformation is the critical question of our time” said PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III. “They ground us in the reality of how our defective system affects the lives of real Americans and provides new thinking on how the national security system of the twenty-first century should function. I commend Chris for his selfless national service and his poignant insights that could help us transcend our current national security paradigm.”

In May 2010, newly retired Colonel Holshek set out from Washington D.C. on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in search of the answer to two fundamental questions: “What does it mean to be an American?” “And what does that mean for America and the rest of the world?” Chris rumbled through the American South and Southwest to the Pacific Coast and returned through the Great Plains and the American Heartland. His trip also had a detour, escorting some students from the George Mason University to the African nation of Liberia. In the book, Chris chronicles his many encounters, including meeting his uncle, a Vietnam War veteran, and bantering with a shrimp boat captain while oil from the BP well polluted the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pondering his travels, Chris saw the value of seeing America from both the “outside-in” and the “inside-out.” He discovered insights into the American character in its national parks and presidential homes and gained an appreciation of the enduring flow of American history as he traversed the routes of the Transcontinental Railroad and Lewis and Clark expedition. The conclusions he draws are both thought-provoking and timely as the United States looks for national renewal, to reinvent its government through a national security transformation and to use its leadership to secure a safe and prosperous world for generations to come.

“I realized that, like America, I found myself in mid-life transition, as I wandered between the military and civilian worlds at home as well as abroad,” Chris noted. “As I meandered through America on my Harley, reflecting both backwards and ahead in my life, it became clear I could never return to the structured and more predictable world of the military. That’s gone now, so I have to move on.”

Reorganizing Government: Advice to the President from Renowned Transformation Agent James R. Locher III

January 26, 2011 in News

WASHINGTON, DC – In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama put forth a powerful vision for the nation. Included in that vision was the important goal “to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.” To successfully achieve this task we must transform our inefficient and ineffective national security system, the largest component of our broken government. Renowned government transformation agent and President and CEO of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), James R. Locher III, provides commentary on this issue here:

Like many Americans, I tuned in to watch the State of the Union Address last night. And beforehand, like most, I had several thoughts and anticipations on topics President Obama would choose to address. As the president and CEO of the Project on National Security Reform, I was pleased to see so many corresponding themes between the President’s vision for America and ways in which PNSR can help to advance America toward that vision.

The President was absolutely right, “the world has changed,” and we must change with it. On many levels, this has already occurred. Individuals all over the nation have adapted to the changing pace and order of the current times. However, to make this change on a larger scale – the scale of government – will require much more effort and coordination…and undoubtedly, government transformation.

At PNSR, we often describe transformation with words like “innovation” and “reinvention”. Last night, the President chose these words as well.

He eloquently laid out the task ahead, and challenged us all with comments like:

“The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still,” and
“That’s what Americans have done for over 200 years: reinvented ourselves.”

In my opinion, the single most telling excerpt from the State of the Union Address, was the following:

“We shouldn’t just give our people a government that’s more affordable. We should give them a government that’s more competent and more efficient. We can’t win the future with a government of the past.”

Our Declaration of Independence states, “governments are instituted among men to ensure these rights” (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). How can we ensure these basic principles with such an outdated government structure, the largest component of which is our national security system? From domestic natural disasters to foreign policy, from the economy to education, and from terrorism to national infrastructure, these are all parts of our national security. Government transformation starts with transformation of our national security system.

I believe the way ahead is straightforward. We need effective strategic management, prioritized investment, a unifying culture, adaptive structures, and comprehensive accountability and oversight. An improved national security system would equip our nation and government to manage and overcome the complex and interconnected security challenges of the 21st century.

The president has provided a more detailed vision for transforming the national security system in the National Security Strategy with twelve organizational goals paralleling PNSR’s recommendations. PNSR has developed the specific steps that are necessary. What is needed now is the political will to make these imperative changes. It must be a bipartisan campaign with both branches having important roles. The president will need put action behind last night’s words. PNSR and others are ready to help with bold intellectual, political, and implementation ideas. We can’t win the future without transforming the national security system.

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(202) 643-7049


Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Convinced of the Need for National Security Transformation, Rejoins PNSR

January 24, 2011 in News

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) is pleased to announce that former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair rejoined PNSR’s Board of Directors and Guiding Coalition, where he served previously from 2007 to 2009. The 25-member Guiding Coalition includes former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Norman Augustine, and former U.S. Supreme Allied Commander of Europe General Wes Clark.

“My service as Director of National Intelligence confirmed my conviction that our national security system needs transformation. It is full of dedicated and hard-working officials, but its antiquated structure does not serve the nation’s current and future needs,” said Admiral Blair.

“I am delighted that Denny Blair has brought his powerful intellect and visionary leadership back to PNSR,” said President and CEO James R. Locher III. “The nation owes Denny a debt of gratitude for his dedication to America’s security and prosperity and his devotion to public service. His depth of experience and understanding of the security environment of the 21st century will once again be invaluable in PNSR’s work.” During his previous term at PNSR, Admiral Blair also served as the Project’s Deputy Executive Director.

Admiral Blair served as Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration from January 2009 to May 2010, overseeing and working to transform the sixteen intelligence agencies. Prior to joining the administration, he held the John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and General of the Army Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at Dickinson College and the U.S. Army War College. From 2003-2006, Blair led the Institute for Defense Analyses as president and CEO.

Prior to retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2002, Admiral Blair served as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command, the largest U.S. combatant command with an area of responsibility covering half of the earth’s surface. He also served as the Director of the Joint Staff, first Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support, and on the National Security Council staff.

In addition to being awarded four Defense Distinguished Service Medals and numerous decorations from foreign governments, Admiral Blair graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received a master’s degree in History and Languages from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(202) 643-7049


The Andean Initiative and the Transnational Social Contract, 1989-1994 — Daniel Gibbons

December 21, 2010 in Case Studies

In 1986, National Security Decision Directive 221 declared drug production and trafficking a threat to the security of the United States. The U.S. government response to the drug (predominantly cocaine) epidemic was multi-faceted, in keeping with the nature of the trafficking threat. In the source region, the United States urged the Andean countries to gain control of their traffickers, and provided law enforcement and judicial system support to the Andean countries––Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru–– through the Drug Enforcement Agency, the State Department, and other institutions. However, by the end of the decade, it was becoming clear that counterdrug efforts in the Andes were not working. In August 1989, newly inaugurated U.S. President George H.W. Bush launched the Andean Initiative––a five-year program that allied the United States with Andean countries in the fight against narcotics. The initiative provided financial aid, program support, and training for Andean military and law enforcement efforts.

The U.S. counterdrug strategy inaugurated in 1989, including its international aspects, was well thought out via an interagency analysis which took place after Bush Sr. came into office. The Andean Strategic Initiative was laid down by the president in National Security Directive 18 (NSD-18), released in August of 1989. In it, the president noted that drugs affected U.S. national security by their corrosive effect on American society and that they undermined international security by destabilizing friendly governments. The broad-based counternarcotics strategy was unveiled in the 1989 publication of the National Drug Control Strategy, a 154-page report covering international and domestic issues. The report iterated specific objectives for the Andean Initiative as configured by the overarching framework of NSD-18. The five key objectives in the Andean region included: 1) “… isolation of major coca-growing areas in Peru and Bolivia”; 2) “… interdiction in these countries of the delivery [precursor] chemicals used for cocaine processing”; 3) “… destruction of cocaine hydrochloride processing facilities”; 4) “… dismantling of drug trafficking organizations”; and 5) “… eradication of the coca crop when it can be made an effective strategy.”

The newly-created Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and its Director (commonly referred to as the Drug Czar) were charged with coordinating all U.S. domestic and international counterdrug efforts. ONDCP was additionally mandated with power to dictate national strategy and a national drug control budget. Thus, NSD-18 granted the ONDCP integrative and leadership responsibilities for the Andean Initiative. The elevation of Andean counternarcotics to the level of a national security threat meant that the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency would join the Department of State in the institutional structure. NSD-18 designated the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics Matters as lead agency in the development of Andean country programs. Department of Defense (DOD) policy directives and procedures were revised to expand DOD support of U.S. counternarcotics efforts and to permit DOD personnel to conduct training and operational support activities. In addition, the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Customs Service, and U.S. Coast Guard provided advising and training for their Andean counterparts. The Agency for International Development and the United States Information Agency were also involved in the initiative.

Institutionalization of leadership, proactive crafting of strategy that recognized the multi-jurisdictional range and challenge of the Andean drug problem, and reconfiguration and integration of government security institutions constituted the primary strengths of the U.S. approach. Emphasis on collaboration in the strategy, initially configured by National Security Directive 18 and the first National Drug Control Strategy of 1989, helped bridge agency disjuncts. The president’s declaration of the primacy of the drug threat also provided a fulcrum to motivate action. However, several critics have concluded the Drug Czar lacked real authority to enforce decisions. Notably, the czar did not command nation-wide drug policy budget authority and to solve bureaucratic disputes the czar remained dependent on presidential backing. The monitoring of military aid in achieving counternarcotics objectives was also particularly problematic.

Assessments of the Andean Initiative, and indeed of counterdrug strategy in general, do not provide a universal picture of success. Such measurable objectives as the number of hectares of coca destroyed or the amount of drugs seized were touted as a desirable means of evaluating success or failure, but difficulty in gathering reliable statistics on these drug trade measures makes them uncertain assessors. Still, the U.S. counternarcotics infrastructure was strengthened through the Andean Initiative. Almost immediately, coca crops were reduced. The Medellin cartel was effectively dismantled by the time Bush Sr. left office, and the Cali cartel followed in a few years. Gradually, the Andean countries were strengthened in their ability to fight cartels, combat insurgents, and improve governance. The counterdrug alliance between the United States and these countries was also solidified.

Analysis of the Andean Initiative provides an example of how the U.S. government attempted to integrate multiple tools of national power across disparate jurisdictions in pursuit of one primary strategic goal: namely, decreasing drug production and trafficking in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. While complete success in the so-called War on Drugs is elusive and hard to measure, tangible results were achieved in the Andean countries to the long-term benefit of U.S. national security. These gains were accomplished through an interagency approach that focused on justice and law enforcement but which also leveraged DOD assets in a way that avoided pulling the military into large-scale operations.

The Bush Administration’s Democracy Promotion Efforts in Egypt — Edmund LaCour

December 21, 2010 in Case Studies

Towards the end of his first term, President George W. Bush declared that democracy promotion in the Middle East would become a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy. The administration aimed to encourage democratic change throughout the region, even in countries with authoritarian regimes traditionally friendly to American interests. For example, Egypt has been one of Washington’s closest regional allies for decades, and yet the Bush administration pushed successfully for democratic reforms in the country. However, when the regime in Egypt began rolling back the imposed reforms, the Bush administration could muster only a limited response due to conflicting foreign policy interests, a lack of expertise regarding Islamist political movements, and resistance to the democracy project from officials within the administration. As a result, authoritarianism remains entrenched in Egypt, and the credibility of American democracy promotion efforts, as well as Washington’s overall reputation, has been further diminished in Egypt and beyond.

President George W. Bush stated clearly that democracy promotion abroad was essential to securing peace at home. As a result, the administration attempted to integrate democracy promotion in Egypt and the broader Middle East into its regional strategy. The White House instituted new initiatives within the State Department, garnered international consensus, and increased funding for all government bodies engaged in democracy promotion, the National Endowment for Democracy in particular. The administration also made an unprecedented diplomatic push in public and private statements supporting democratic development in Egypt and among its neighbors. Nevertheless, the government’s approach to democracy promotion lacked a centralized “command and control center” and thus had little strategic coherence. Additionally, the role of democracy promotion in the GWOT was never explicitly articulated. Furthermore, many in the U.S. government (such as the Office of the Vice President but even elements of the State Department) never bought into the strategy, particularly as it related to Arab allies, such as Egypt. As such, no unified strategy was adequately pursued.

In refining its Middle East strategy during the second term, the Bush administration identified development aid and democracy promotion as essential tools for achieving U.S. national security objectives, particularly as they pertained to the GWOT. As a result, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department, began focusing more energy on U.S. democracy promotion efforts from 2003-2006. However, since 2006, high-level U.S. support for change has been notably absent as other foreign policy goals in the region have trumped democracy promotion. Additionally, Washington’s extensive economic and military aid to Egypt over the last 30 years is not well leveraged to press for democratic reform. Indeed, by continuing to provide aid to Egypt despite President Mubarak’s repeated authoritarian crackdowns, the United States has fostered skepticism abroad regarding its commitment to democracy. These conflicted actions have led to the resignation of several frustrated staffers who supported democracy promotion efforts.

The lack of unified purpose and the absence of a coherent strategic plan regarding how best to encourage a democratic transition in Egypt while pursuing broader U.S. goals in the region has rendered democracy promotion efforts halting and haphazard. This lack of unity was partially the result of purposeful resistance of administration officials who doubted the wisdom of the democracy project and resisted the effort. The available sources do not indicate how some individuals were able to contravene the President’s direction, but make it clear that Bush lacked the capacity (organizational tools and personal time) to oversee the proper implementation of his directives. These individuals and organizations were suspect of transformational diplomacy, and preferred realist, status quo driven policy or simply desired to keep working in their traditional areas of expertise (for example, development). The bureaucratic resistance hindered Bush’s freedom agenda and compelled the departure of frustrated staffers tasked with democratization. Furthermore, consensus was never reached regarding whether democracy promotion was a tactic in fighting the GWOT or a grand strategy and policy end in itself.

It is widely recognized that the attention lavished by the Bush administration upon the cause of Egyptian democracy between 2003 and 2005 helped create space for democratic political opposition in Egypt and encouraged President Mubarak to adopt at least mild reforms. On-the-ground efforts of U.S.-sponsored nongovernmental organizations helped make possible Egypt’s reasonably free and fair parliamentary elections in 2005. Since then, however, Mubarak has cracked down on opposition parties and civil society groups with little response from the United States, damaging the credibility, and thus the effectiveness, of the U.S. democracy promotion agenda throughout the Middle East.

While Bush called for reform throughout the Middle East and funds were assigned to serve that purpose across the region, Egypt is one of the few countries where the U.S. had, at least for a time, a positive impact on democratic reform. However, success was short lived and many experts who have recently analyzed President Bush’s so-called “freedom agenda” in the broader Middle East and North Africa have declared the effort largely ineffective due to competing interests and lack of commitment. These individuals point out that if the U.S. hopes to encourage democracy among its autocratic allies, Washington will have to learn how to pursue this aim in tandem with other priorities.

New PNSR Study Recommends an Integrated National Security Professional System

December 15, 2010 in News, Report

WASHINGTON, DC – The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) announced today publication of a major study recommending a system to produce and manage a cadre of National Security Professionals (NSP) equipped to handle complex 21st century issues. The study, The Power of People: Building an Integrated National Security Professional System for the 21st Century, recommends the phased establishment of an Integrated National Security Professional (INSP) system. The INSP system is designed to function collaboratively across agency and government boundaries.

PNSR believes this human capital system is urgently needed to produce and retain the necessary personnel with the requisite training and experience in whole-of-government approaches, to work in permanent, temporary, and emergency assignments. The current agency-centric system, established by Executive Order 13434 in 2007, is not robust enough to do the job. The new system must be rooted in 21st century practices of collaboration and integration, facilitated by technology, and centrally managed by a Board with a Senate-confirmed director.

PNSR identifies several guiding principles for establishing an INSP system. The study recognizes that “one size may not fit all” for individuals and agencies. NSPs should qualify for progressive levels of achievement/rank. NSPs should self-select to pursue NSP qualification, bolstered by incentives, with entry and training laterally or at an early career stage. An INSP system must attract the next generation.

The INSP system should be implemented in stages over a period of five to seven years. The four stages of implementation are: 1) further development of agency-specific capabilities, especially training, in the current NSP system; 2) establishment of a NSP Qualification Program and the beginning of centralized management of some system aspects; 3) formalization of the INSP system; and 4) realization of a whole-of-government INSP system that includes individuals from the federal government and state and local entities. Pilot programs in each phase would help ensure successful implementation of the system. The study presents general and stage-by-stage recommendations as well as specific next steps for both the executive and legislative branches.

In conducting the study, PNSR interviewed and met regularly with representatives of departments, agencies, and other organizations with national security missions. As the study developed, PNSR consulted with a distinguished group of experts with deep experience in national security, human capital, government performance, and change management.

PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III commented, “This study emphasizes the enormous importance of the collaborative ability of National Security Professionals, whether they serve on emergency teams or toil every day with others to solve the complex problems we face. PNSR is pleased to have had the opportunity to suggest practical ideas to meet the need. Action on such ideas, step-by-step, to build a new system will be foundational to securing America’s future.”

The independent study, mandated by Congress in the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act and performed under a Department of Defense contract, has been forwarded to the executive branch and Congress. The study can be found here.

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(202) 643-7049


PNSR Stands Ready to Meet the Challenge of American Reform and Renewal

December 13, 2010 in News

WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s Washington Post, renowned American journalist and political commentator E.J. Dionne called for President Obama to revive his presidency through a bold and persistent campaign for national reform and renewal. The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) applauds his rationale and suggests that the key to restoring the faith of the American people, as well as preserving America’s world leadership role, is to engage the nation in envisioning and co-creating the future in a comprehensive transformation effort.

In his op.ed. “Can Obama find his morning in America?”, Dionne asserts that “Obama was elected for many reasons in 2008, but the country’s underlying desire to reverse this sense of decline was central to his victory.” He argues, “Obama’s biggest failures in his first two years lay in not fully grasping the opportunity this intimation of crisis created and in not appreciating that he was being asked to do more than fix the economy.” Dionne advises Obama: “What’s lacking is a coherent call for reform and restoration that is unapologetically patriotic and challenging.”

The preeminent lens through which to develop this campaign is national security transformation. Organized for a world that no longer exists, the U.S. national security system has become dangerously inefficient, ineffective, and myopic. It cannot handle the increased complexity of a radically different security environment; the pace, variety, and interdependence of new non-traditional threats (climate change, failing schools, economic decline, etc); or the rising competition for resources and for leadership of the world community. Our government is adapting too slowly to rapidly changing national security challenges and opportunities, cannot take whole-of-government or whole-of-nation approaches, and lacks a strategy to inform its plans and actions. The transpartisan PNSR has been pursuing a bold transformation agenda for the past the four years, and this work has not split along party lines. Political leaders are beginning to understand that this desperately needed set of reforms could become a bipartisan priority.

Momentum for this change within the Obama administration is already building; it has positioned itself in favor of many elements of the transformation agenda. The administration’s May 2010 National Security Strategy gave prominent attention to the need to “update, balance, and integrate all the tools of American power” in a whole-of-government approach. Its Cabinet officers, including Vice President Biden, Secretaries Clinton and Gates, former National Security Advisor Jim Jones, and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, have expressed strong support for national security transformation. Secretary Gates has called adapting and reforming our 63-year old national security apparatus “the institutional challenge of our time.”

PNSR stands ready to help the U.S. government co-create practical, innovative solutions that will provide the basis for a new national security system and bring about its political realization and implementation. It is focused solely on this mission. PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III commented, “Reform and renewal of the national security system is not only the #1 national security issue, it is also one on which the two parties can work together. Please join the call for President Obama to forcefully and steadfastly lead this patriotic and historic mission to overcome the nation’s most critical challenge.”

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(646) 662-4092


PNSR Expert Commentary and Resources on Fiscal Responsibility and National Security Spending

December 1, 2010 in News

WASHINGTON, DC – As the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform releases its recommendations on reducing United States government spending, the Project on National Security Reform’s (PNSR) experts provide the following commentary and resources on fiscal responsibility and national security transformation:


James R. Locher III, President and CEO – “Headlines about setbacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, terrorism, counterproliferation, and other challenges often vividly portray the ineffectiveness of the U.S. national security system in the 21st century. Less visible, but equally troubling, is the system’s gross inefficiency and wastefulness. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform should press for transforming the system to realize huge savings. In a $1 trillion national security budget, the potential for massive cost reductions is enormous. Why is the system wasting money? First, it has no foresight mechanism; it doesn’t begin to work on problems until they are expensive-to-solve crises. Second, the budget process is not oriented on what we hope to achieve — our missions and other outcomes; it funds capabilities that the departments desire which are often misaligned with our needs. Third, departments and agencies don’t work as teams; they work in isolated stovepipes, often with costly duplication or conflicting objectives. A transformed national security system can dramatically strengthen the nation’s security and at less cost. Over to you, Erskine and Alan.”

Nancy Bearg, Senior Advisor – “The members of the Deficit Commission have been thinking hard about change. Their recommendations are a new, daring way of thinking about how fundamental changes — difficult as they are — are essential to the strength of this country. The Project on National Security Reform has a new way of thinking too — and it relates directly to deficit reduction: transform the way we think about and act on national security. Make it whole-of-government and whole-of-nation. Reform processes and perspectives to include all instruments of national power in preventing and solving problems. The current system is increasingly crippled in dealing with modern challenges. Transforming the system into a more integrated whole will result in more efficient and effective use of our national security resources, resulting in less cost. National security transformation is an idea whose time has come — just in time to be put in the mix of crucially important, daring ideas to set this great country on sounder and safer fiscal and national security footing.”

John Depenbrock, Chief Operating Officer – “There can be no transformation of our national security system without fiscal responsibility and some sacrifices by all citizens. Indeed, comprehensive national security transformation will lead to economic security that will serve our nations’ community of interests by placing America on a positive and prosperous economic foundation as we move forward in the 21st century.”

Rahul Gupta, Senior Advisor – “We are in a dire budgetary situation where our security is being destabilized by our lack of economic prowess, yet we believe we cannot reduce defense spending. The first problem we have to acknowledge and fix is that the national security budget is derived through an outdated process that imposes no demands for prioritization or rationalization of capabilities across the portfolio of investments. For this reason, no one really knows if additional spending buys more security. We continue to buy additional planes, ships, and other major equipment even though less expensive platforms could provide the same capability. The second problem we must recognize is that the Pentagon and other departments have yet to fully comply with the CFO Act and present fully auditable financial statements for each major acquisition and do so with all of the costs clearly identified. Until then, there will no true accountability for the costs of systems and therefore no reliable data to prioritize and rationalize. The third problem is due to a combination of acquisition practices and culture. We must acknowledge that the national security community has yet to benefit fully from performance- and service- based contracting for much of its consumables. Even though the laws call for commercial approaches to acquisition, DOD has yet to fully develop and implement these practices. In addition, the staff that has to carry out these different practices lack the training to be successful or the sponsorship to fully execute. To save hundreds of billions per year will require (1) prioritization and rationalization, (2) transparency, auditability, and accountability, and (3) modern acquisition processes and acquisition staff trained in these methods.”

Daniel Langberg, Deputy Director for Interagency Teams and Planning – “Secretary Clinton and Admiral Mullen have each recognized national debt as a pressing national security concern. Under this broadened scope of national security, national security transformation would enable a more strategic and long-term approach by institutionalizing capabilities such as scanning and long-term assessments of the strategic environment, as well as visioning and long-term strategy development. Institutionalizing these and other much-needed capabilities on a whole-of-government basis would allow for a clearer picture of the strategic environment, wiser prioritization of our national security investment portfolio, and a stronger grasp of long-range impacts of near-term decisions — insights that could have gone a long way in helping to avoid the situation we are in today.”

Jack LeCuyer, Distinguished Fellow – “Transformation of the national security system and fiscal responsibility are two sides of the same coin. This is about more than just the Defense and State Department budgets. It is about taking the president’s national security strategy which includes a broadened definition of national security and asking how to implement it in an efficient and effective way to ensure outcomes that truly enhance our national security and maintain our leadership role in the global environment. The next required step in this process of aligning resources with national security objectives is the development and promulgation of the president’s planning and resource guidance for national security missions to the departments and agencies with the requirement to review each of the major departmental quadrennial reviews in light of this guidance. Each of these reviews to date has been accomplished in a vacuum of strategic guidance from the top — and each of these reviews is more about maintaining a share of the budget to develop departmental capabilities than they are about ensuring a truly integrated whole-of-government approach to accomplishing the goals outlined in the president’s national security strategy. We have the opportunity to do a system check and to ensure that we have properly aligned resources — both for “hard” and “soft” power elements of national power — into a seamless and integrated interagency national security budgetary approach. We need not do more; we cannot afford to do less. Let us begin that path toward transformation of the national security system today.”

Dale Pfeifer, Director of Network Development and Strategic Communications – “In testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Secretary Clinton recently argued that the U.S. budget deficit and debt be addressed “as a matter of national security, not only as a matter of economics.” It is essential we identify strategies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long-run. To do this, budget processes should evolve to allow the government to manage budgets more innovatively. For example, transitioning from allocating resources by departments and agencies to a prioritized mission is likely to allow for substantial savings and increased effectiveness.”

Tom Rautenberg, Director of Strategy and Development – “National security transformation drives fiscal responsibility by demanding breakthrough efficiency and effectiveness in ways that are measurable and based on scientific evidence. Thus, now that the President’s Commission has put defense and intelligence spending in play, transformational thinking can help us spend our dollars more wisely.”

Rei Tang, Research Analyst – “Outdated budgeting processes seriously hamper the ability of the national security system to conduct policy without wasteful and inefficient spending. From the $52 billion spent on Iraq War reconstruction to the sprawl of the national security system since 9/11, reports and studies have repeatedly noted the inefficiencies and costs from a scattered and ad hoc approach to national security spending. This occurs even as the United States recognizes a coming fiscal crisis, often deemed a national security issue by the nation’s military leadership. Even more troubling, the United States faces emerging national security challenges that are piling up as the government remains slow to anticipate and react. National security transformation has the potential to save billions while increasing the effectiveness of the government, and would put our institutions in a better place to deal with our fiscal issues.”

PNSR Senior Staffer – “How could national security transformation contribute to fiscal responsibility? It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of resource allocation in the execution of policy. Yet one of the overarching themes we see in our goal for national security transformation is that government spending is not aligned with our national security strategy. Additionally, there is no overarching fiscal plan that takes a wholistic, government-wide view. What is needed is a system that helps to unite agencies on the strategic level, which, in turn would address the fiscal issue. To quote an early PNSR publication, the system is “simply not designed to address interagency needs” (Forging a New Shield). National security transformation would provide an organizational framework to better align strategy and resources.”


- Michael Leonard, Matching Policy and Strategy with Resources: An Issue Brief (2009).

- Turning Ideas in Action (2009), Alignment of Strategy and Resources (Chapter 3).

- Forging a New Shield (2008), Resource Management (Part 4).

- PNSR Resource Working Group, Annotated Bibliography (2007).

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(646) 662-4092


PNSR Awarded Grant to Explore the Legal Issues of National Security Transformation

November 24, 2010 in News

WASHINGTON, DC – The Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded a grant to the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) to conduct a series of events on the legal issues of national security transformation. The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Bingham McCutchen LLC, and the National Security Preparedness Group of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) will collaborate with PNSR on these events.

New and revised legal instruments, including laws, executive orders, presidential directives, and regulations, are required as key mechanisms of governmental change. This series of events will pave the way to a more integrated approach to the legal issues involved in transforming the U.S. national security system to better handle the challenges of the 21st century.

PNSR President and CEO James R. Locher III stated, “Advancing national security reform requires the study and resolution of important legal issues. PNSR is delighted to join three preeminent organizations studying these issues — ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Bingham McCutchen, and BPC’s National Security Preparedness Group -– in advancing the collective understanding of these issues.”

This project includes three roundtables, a concluding conference, and a report for use by the Executive Branch, Congress, and reform-minded private organizations. Major themes for discussion will include National Security Council authorities, dual chains of command in interagency operations, and intelligence reform. The first roundtable will be held on December 8.

PNSR, ABA, Bingham McCutchen, and BPC will bring a unique and fresh approach to these issues, applying the lessons of existing efforts, broad knowledge of the national security environment, and a wealth of talent with experience throughout and beyond the government. Expert panels consisting of former officials who have deep expertise in these thematic areas and who have led large-scale government reforms will participate in these events.

PNSR appreciates the Carnegie Corporation’s foresight in investing in this necessary step to transform the antiquated U.S. national security system into a more dynamic, adaptive, efficient, and effective model.

For further comment please contact:
Project on National Security Reform
(646) 662-4092


Case Studies on Interagency Reform -The Fadlallah Affair and Asymmetric Threats

October 19, 2010 in Video

Richard Chasdi gives a presentation on PNSR case study, The Fadlallah Affair, at the Reserve Officers Association on October 19, 2010.

Curt Klun gives a presentation on PNSR case study, War on Drugs: Lessons Learned from 35 Years of Fighting Asymmetric, at the Reserve Officers Association on October 19, 2010.