What You Should Know About the National Security Strategy

What You Should Know About the National Security Strategy

On Monday, December 18, President Trump unveiled his first National Security Strategy (NSS) report. Here is what you should know about this important national security document.

What is the National Security Strategy report?

In 1986, Congress implemented the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act, whose purposes included “increasing attention to the formulation of strategy and to contingency planning.” The law requires the President of the United States to annually submit a “comprehensive report on the national security of the United States.”

The report is required to be transmitted on the date on which the President submits to Congress the budget for the next fiscal year. Each report must be sent in both a classified and an unclassified form.

What is required to be included in the NSS report?

Each NSS report is required by law to include a comprehensive description and discussion of the following:

1. The worldwide interests, goals, and objectives of the U.S. that are vital to national security.

2. The foreign policy, worldwide commitments, and national defense capabilities of the U.S. necessary to deter aggression and to implement the national security.

3. The proposed short-term and long-term uses of the political, economic, military, and other elements of the national power of the United States to protect or promote the interests and achieve the goals and objectives referred to in item #1.

4. The adequacy of the capabilities of the U.S. to carry out the national security strategy, including an evaluation of the balance among the capabilities of all elements of the national power to support the implementation of the national security strategy.

5. Such other information as may be necessary to help inform Congress on matters relating to the national security strategy of the United States.

Does the President submit the report every year?

No. Despite the legal requirement, no president since Regan has submitted the report every year.

Reagan submitted both reports required in the last two years of his administration (1987 and 1988), but George H.W. Bush only submitted three out of five required reports while Clinton only submitted seven out of eight. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama only submitted two out of seven reports.

What’s in President Trump’s NSS report?

The report outlines four pillars and includes strategy proposals based on regional contexts. Below is an outline of what is included in the latest report:

PILLAR I: Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life

Secure U.S. Borders and Territory

  • Defend against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by enhancing missile defense, detecting and disrupting weapons of mass destruction, and enhancing counterproliferation measures
  • Combat biothreats and pandemics by detecting and containing biothreats at their source, supporting biomedical innovation, and improving emergency response.
  • Strengthen border control and immigration policy by enhancing border security, enhancing vetting, enforcing immigration laws, and bolstering transportation security.

Pursue Threats to Their Source

  • Defeat jihadist terrorists by disrupting terror plots, taking direct action, eliminating safe havens, severing sources of strength, sharing responsibility, and combatting radicalization and recruitment in communities.
  • Dismantle transnational criminal organizations by improving strategic planning and intelligence, defending communities, and countering cyber criminals.

Keep America Safe in the Cyber Era

  • Priority actions include identifying and prioritizing risks, building defensible government networks, deterring and disrupting malicious cyber actors, improving information sharing and sensing, and deploying layered defenses.

Promote American Resilience

  • Priority actions include improving risk management, building a culture of preparedness, improving planning, and incentivizing information sharing.

PILLAR II: Promote American Prosperity

Rejuvenate the Domestic Economy

  • Priority actions include reducing regulatory burdens, promoting tax reform, improving American infrastructure, reducing the debt through fiscal responsibility, and supporting education and apprenticeship programs.

Promote Free, Fair, and Reciprocal Economic Relationships

  • Priority actions include adopting new trade and investment agreements and modernizing existing ones, countering unfair trade practices, countering foreign corruption, working with like-minded partners, and facilitating new market opportunities.

Lead in Research, Technology, Invention, and Innovation

  • Priority actions include attracting and retaining inventors and innovators, leveraging private capital and expertise to build and innovate, and rapidly fielding inventions and innovations.

Promote and Protect the U.S. National Security Innovation Base

  • Priority actions include protecting intellectual property, tightening visa procedures, and protecting data and underlying infrastructure.

Embrace Energy Dominance

  • Priority actions include reducing barriers, promoting exports, ensuring energy security, attaining universal energy access, and furthering America’s technological edge.

PILLAR III: Preserve Peace through Strength

Renew America’s Competitive Advantages

  • Renew, maintain, and promote capabilities in the military, defense industrial base, nuclear forces, space, cyberspace, and intelligence.

Diplomacy and Statecraft

  • Focuses include competitive diplomacy, information statecraft, and using tools of economic diplomacy.

PILLAR IV: Advance American Influence

Encourage Aspiring Partners

  • Priority actions include mobilizing resources, capitalizing on new technologies, and incentivizing reforms.

Achieve Better Outcomes in Multilateral Forums

  • Priority actions include exercising leadership in political and security bodies, shaping and reforming international financial and trade institutions, ensuring common domains remain free, and protecting a free and open internet.

Champion American Values

  • Priority actions include supporting the dignity of individuals, protecting religious freedom and religious minorities, reducing human suffering, defeating transnational terrorist organizations, and empowering women and youth.

The Strategy in a Regional Context

  • This section briefly highlights the U.S.’s political, economic, and military and security stance in the following regions: Indo-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, South and Central Asia, Western Hemisphere, and Africa.

Joe Carter is an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College, an editor for several organizations, and the author of the NIV Lifehacks Bible.

Photo Credit: President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS). Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

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