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Fall 2011 - 61260 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Shaping Defense Policy

Instructor(s): Dorn, Edwin
Unique Number: 61260
Day & Time: W 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.216/219
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.


Section Description

The Department of Defense is a large, complex, and highly consequential enterprise: it spends more than $600 billion annually and employs more than three million people.  Its activities have huge domestic and international ramifications.  Because of the length of time needed to develop new technologies and train leaders, DoD plans far ahead.
This graduate level seminar focuses on the processes by which broad national security goals are translated into defense policies and programs. The objectives of the course are to (a) enable graduates who take defense-related jobs to orient themselves inside the national security establishment, whether they are working in the Pentagon, at OMB or on Congressional staff; and (b) use DoD as an example of the way in which policies are developed and implemented in all large organizations.  

Course Outline:
Because most students have not had experience with the military, the seminar will begin with an overview of military terms and organizing principles.  Students will be introduced to the National Security Strategy and to the basic documents that shape the institution, beginning with Title 10 of the United States Code.  Following that, the course will follow a logical progression from the articulation of defense policy through decisions about military organization and resources.

The course is organized around my belief that the Defense Department, like all organizations, focuses on five basic concerns: purposes, money, people, things, and information.  The effectiveness with which an organization pursues those five concerns – in this case, DoD’s ability to achieve its mission – is determined by the quality of its leadership.   These six topics will be the “meat” of the course.  Students will spend one or more class sessions on each of the following themes:

1.    Background: overview of DoD and of the military services, the difference between war fighters and resource providers, the roles of the key leaders.
2.    Purposes: what are we defending ourselves against (or fighting for)?
       a.    National Security Strategy: who writes it, what influences it?
       b.    National Defense Strategy: threat-based v. capability-based approaches.
3.    People: recruiting, training and rewarding the force.
       a.    From conscription to the all-volunteer force.
       b.    Who should serve, and who shouldn’t?
       c.    Pay and benefits.
4.    Things: acquisition and logistics.
       a.    Figuring out what to buy and how to buy it.
       b.    Maintaining the defense industrial base.
5.    Money: the defense budget.
       a.    The budget development process.
       b.    Budget trends.
6.    Information: management, public relations, and intelligence.
       a.    Internal communication and coordination.
       b.    Communication with the public
       c.    Intelligence.
7.    Leadership: developing the officer corps.
8.    The role of Congress.
9.    Thinking About The Future: anticipating threats, defining roles and missions.

Principal Texts:

  • Amos A. Jordan, Willliam J. Taylor, Jr. and Michael J. Mazarr, American National Security (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999). Buy.
  • Lawrence J. Korb, et al, Building a Military for the 21st Century, published on-line by the Center for American Progress.  Available on E-res.
  • Barbara A. Bicksler, Curtis L. Gilroy and John T. Warner, eds., The All-Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service (Dulles, VA, Brassey’s, 2004).  Buy.

In addition, from a list provided by the professor, each student will select two books to review for the benefit of the class.  

Course Requirements and Expectations:

Students will be expected to contribute to class discussions, lead at least one session, and complete a few writing assignments, including two book reviews.

Class attendance and participation: 10%
Short paper: 10%
Mid-term: 20%
Book briefings:  (two)  20%
Book reviews:    (two)  40%

Class Size: up to 15