Shaping Defense Policy

This class is intended to provide students with the information and perspective that I wish I had possessed when I began my appointment at the Pentagon. The Department of Defense is a large, complex, and consequential enterprise: it employs more than three million people, spends more than $600 billion annually, and operates at more than 700 military sites abroad.  Because of the length of time needed to train leaders, develop new doctrines and acquire new equipment, DoD also plans far ahead.  This undergraduate seminar will help students understand (1) what the nation’s defense policy is, who makes it, and how it is implemented. The focus will be on DoD, but with some attention to other key institutions such as the White House and Congress.

Course Outline

The course will follow a logical progression from the articulation of national security strategy through decisions about DoD organization and resources.  Because most students are not familiar with the military, the seminar will begin with an overview of military terms and organizing principles.  Students will be introduced to essential policy documents such as Title X of the US Code and the National Security Strategy.

The Defense Department, like all organizations, must succeed at several key things: it must decide on its basic purposes or policies, obtain the resources (money, people, equipment and information) needed to carry out those purposes, and hire or develop good leaders. These six topics – policy, personnel, acquisition, budget, intelligence and leadership – will be the “meat” of the course.  We will devote one or two sessions to each of the following topics:

Background.  Overview of DoD; the difference between war-fighters and resource-providers; the roles of key leaders such as the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the combatant commanders.
Purposes: What are we defending ourselves against (or fighting for)?

National Security Strategy.  Who writes it, what influences it.
National Defense Strategy. Threat-based versus capability-based approaches.

People: recruiting, training and rewarding the Force.

From conscription to the all-volunteer force.
Who should serve, and who shouldn’t?
Pay and benefits.

Things: acquisition and logistics.

Figuring out what to buy and how to buy it.
Maintaining the industrial base.

Money: The DoD budget.

The budgeting process
Defense budget outcomes and trends.

Information: command, control, communications, intelligence.

Internal communications and coordination
Public information

Leadership:  developing the officer corps.
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, 2009).  Buy.
Lawrence J. Korb, et al, Building a Military for the 21st Century.  Available on Blackboard.
Barbara A. Bicksler, Curtis L. Gilroy and John T. Warner, eds., The All-Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service (Dulles, VA, Brassey’s, 2004).  Available on Blackboard.

Performance Expectations

            Students will be expected to contribute to class discussions, write a short paper describing their interests in defense issues, review a book about defense or national security policy, and take a mid-term and a final examination.

Class attendance and participation – 10%
Short paper – 10%
Mid-term examination – 20%
Book review and discussion – 30%
Final examination – 30%

Class Limit: 22