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Actors of National Security


A national security policy sets out the government’s approach to security and how such security is expected to be achieved. National security policy involves major decisions about the security sector which affect the external and internal security of state and society. It is based on a given approach to security, gives guidelines for the military doctrine, and is developed within the framework of the international and regional regulations to which a state is party. It is thus not only based on a perception of national security needs and priorities, but is affected by a variety of external factors, pressures and commitments. In all cases it should meet the values and principles enshrined in the national constitution or charter. As a rule, the implementation of the national security policy involves many state agencies and departments as well as policy documents. Therefore, it is important that a country develops a comprehensive national security strategy involving all the relevant players and aspects of security. Such an approach provides the government with an opportunity for dealing with all security aspects in an integral and comprehensive way. The so-called new risks, such as terrorism and international crime, in particular require a concerted effort, as combating these new threats demands the involvement of various institutions: the military, ministry of finance, police, border guards and intelligence services.

Shared responsibility.While parliament and government have different roles in security matters, they share the responsibility for keeping a well-functioning security sector. This idea of shared responsibilities also applies to the relation between political and military leaders. These two parties should not be regarded as adversaries with opposing goals. On the contrary, they need each other in order to achieve an effective, comprehensive and people-centred security policy. Democratic dialogue between political leaders and high-ranking military officials based on trust, open lines of communication and mutual inclusion must be conducted. Such regular exchanges have the important additional advantage that they prevent politicians and military leaders from becoming alienated and thus help consolidate stability.

Division of roles.The three branches of state, the executive, legislature and judiciary, fulfill major roles in national security policy. The table ¹ 1 highlights the specific functions of each of the three major actors within the executive branch – head of state, government and general staff. The table aims at providing an overview of possible functions as political systems may differ from country to country. In addition to parliament, the judiciary and the executive, civil society makes an important informal contribution to the formulation and implementation of security policy, while the media contribute by informing the public of the intentions and action of all state actors. Finally, two institutional actors play a crucial role in overseeing the implementation of national security policy and the corresponding budget, namely the Ombudsman and the Auditor General.

Political accountability.The security services should be accountable to each of the main branches of the state:

The Executive exercises direct control from the central, regional or local levels of government, determines the budget, general guidelines and priorities of the activities of the security services;

The Legislature exercises parliamentary oversight by passing laws that define and regulate the security services and their powers and by adopting the corresponding budgetary appropriations. Such control may also include establishing a parliamentary ombudsman or a commission that may launch investigations into complaints by the public;

The Judiciary both monitors the security sector and prosecutes the wrong-doings of servicemen through civil and criminal proceedings whenever necessary.




As stated before, the roles of the three branches of state may be different in every country. It is, however, paramount that a system of power-sharing is in place at all times which provides for checks and balances against political abuse of the security sector. Bearing in mind that in many countries government tends to fulfill a dominant role in security matters, it is crucial that parliament be vested with effective oversight powers and resources[1].

Instruments of National Power.The ability of the United States to achieve its national strategic objectives is dependent on the effectiveness of the US Government (USG) in employing the instruments of national power. The appropriate governmental officials, often with National Security Council (NSC) direction, normally coordinate these instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic). They are the tools the United States uses to apply its sources of power, including its culture, human potential, industry, science and technology, academic institutions, geography, and national will.

The President is responsible for national security. At the President’s direction through the interagency process, military power is integrated with the other instruments of national power to advance and defend US values, interests, and objectives. To accomplish this integration, the armed forces interact with the other responsible agencies to ensure mutual understanding of the capabilities, limitations, and consequences of military and civilian actions. They also identify the ways in which military and nonmilitary capabilities best complement each other. At the President’s direction through the interagency process, military power is integrated with the other instruments of national power to advance and defend US values, interests, and objectives. To accomplish this integration, the armed forces interact with the other responsible agencies to ensure mutual understanding of the capabilities, limitations, and consequences of military and civilian actions. They also identify the ways in which military and nonmilitary capabilities best complement each other.[2].

The National Security Council (NSC) plays key roles in the integration of all instruments of national power facilitating mutual understanding, cooperation, and integration of effort. This process of different USG agencies and organizations coordinating and working together is called “interagency coordination.” The National Security Council assists the President in determining how best to employ the instruments of national power in pursuit of national goals. The NSC coordinates the efforts of all government agencies to form a coherent national security strategy.

The National Command Authorities – consisting of the President and the Secretary of Defense, or their authorized alternates – exercise authority over the armed forces through the combatant commanders for forces assigned to the combatant commanders and through the chiefs of the services for other forces.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his capacity as the principal military advisor to the National Security Council, prepares the national military strategy. He does this in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the combatant commanders. The national military strategy contains the advice of the Chairman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the strategic direction of the armed forces in implementing the national security strategy. The Chairman, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, directs the combatant commanders to develop theater engagement plans as well as theater war and contingency plans[3].

Diplomacy.Diplomacy is the principal instrument for engaging with other states and foreign groups to advance US values, interests, and objectives. The Department of State (DOS) is the lead agency for the USG for foreign affairs. The credible threat of force reinforces, and in some cases, enables the diplomatic process. Leaders of the Armed Forces of the United States have a responsibility to understand US foreign policy and to assure that those responsible for US diplomacy have a clear understanding of the capabilities, limitations, and consequences of military action. Geographic combatant commanders (GCCs) are responsible for integrating military activities with diplomatic activities in their areas of responsibility (AORs). The US ambassador and the corresponding country team are normally in charge of diplomatic-military activities in countries abroad. When directed by the President or Secretary of Defense (SecDef), the GCC employs military forces in concert with the other instruments of national power. In these circumstances, the US ambassador and the country team or another diplomatic mission team may have complementary activities (employing the diplomatic instrument) that do not entail control of military forces, which remain under command authority of the GCC. Since diplomatic efforts are often complementary with military objectives, planning should be complementary and coincidental.

Information.In a broad sense, the informational instrument of national power has a diffuse and complex set of components with no single center of control. The United States believes in the free market place of ideas. Therefore, information is freely exchanged with minimal government controls. Constraints on public access to USG information normally may be imposed only for national security and individual privacy reasons. Information readily available from multiple sources influences domestic and foreign audiences including citizens, adversaries, and governments. It is important for the official agencies of government, including the armed forces, to recognize the fundamental role of the media as a conduit of information.

The USG uses strategic communication (SC) to provide top-down guidance relative to using the informational instrument of national power in specific situations. SC is focused USG processes and efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable to advancing national interests and objectives through the use of coordinated information, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. SC’s primary communication capabilities are coupled with defense support to public diplomacy(DSPD) and military diplomacy activities to implement a holistic SC effort.

The predominant military activities that support SC themes and messages are information operations (IO), public affairs (PA), and DSPD. IO are those military actions to attack an adversary’s information and related systems while defending our own. PA are those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics with interest in the Department of Defense. DSPD comprises those activities and measures taken by DOD components to support and facilitate USG public diplomacy efforts. SC planning must be integrated into military planning and operations, documented in operation plans (OPLANs), and coordinated and synchronized with OGAs and multinational partners. The use of the military to conduct combat operations should be a last resort when the other instruments of national power have failed to achieve our nation’s objectives.

The Military. The purpose of the Armed Forces is to fight and win the Nation’s wars. As the military instrument of national power, the Armed Forces must ensure their adherence to US values, constitutional principles, and standards for the profession of arms. The United States wields the military instrument of national power at home and abroad in support of its national security goals in a variety of military operations. The United States wields the military instrument of national power at home and abroad in support of its national security goals in a variety of military operations.

The Economy. The United States free market economy is only partially controlled by

governmental agencies. In keeping with US values and constitutional imperatives, individuals and entities have broad freedom of action worldwide. The responsibility of the USG lies with facilitating the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services worldwide. A strong US economy with free access to global markets and resources is a fundamental engine of the general welfare, the enabler of a strong national defense, and an influence for economic expansion by US trade partners worldwide.

The USG’s financial management ways and means support the economic instrument of national power. The Department of the Treasury, as the steward of US economic and financial systems, is an influential participant in the international economy. It is responsible for a wide range of activities including advising the President on economic and financial issues, promoting the President’s growth agenda, and enhancing corporate governance in financial institutions. In the international arena, the Department of the Treasury works with other federal agencies, the governments of other nations, and the international financial institutions to encourage economic growth, raise standards of living, and predict and prevent, to the extent possible, economic and financial crises.

National Planning Documents.The National Security Strategy (NSS), signed by the President, addresses the tasks that, as a nation, are necessary to shape the global environment and provide enduring security for the American people. It provides a broad strategic context for employing military capabilities in concert with other instruments of national power.

The National Strategy for Homeland Security, also signed by the President, provides national direction to secure the homeland through a comprehensive framework for organizing the efforts of federal, state, local, and private organizations whose primary

functions are often unrelated to national security.

Although there is no statutory requirement, SecDef may produce a National Defense Strategy (NDS), which outlines the DOD approach to implement the President’s NSS. The NDS will support the NSS by establishing a set of overarching defense objectives that guide DOD’s security activities and provide direction for the National Military Strategy (NMS). The NDS objectives will serve as links between military activities and those other government agencies in pursuit of national goals.

The NMS, signed by the CJCS, supports the aims of the NSS and implements the NDS. It describes the Armed Forces’ plan to achieve military objectives in the near term and provides the vision for ensuring they remain decisive in the future. It also provides focus for military activities by defining a set of interrelated military objectives and joint operating concepts from which the CCDRs and Service Chiefs identify desired capabilities and against which the CJCS assesses risk.

The National Response Framework was developed by the Department of Homeland Security. As a signatory, DOD agreed to modify existing interagency and agency incident management and emergency response plans to facilitate compliance with the National Response Framework. The purpose of the National Response Framework is to establish a comprehensive, national level, all-hazards, all-discipline approach to domestic incident management. It covers the full range of complex and constantly changing requirements in anticipation of, or in response to, threats or acts of terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies.

Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG). The CPG is written guidance from the SecDef to the CJCS for the preparation and review of contingency plans for specific missions. This guidance includes the relative priority of the plans, specific force levels, and supporting resource levels projected to be available for the period of time for which such plans are to be effective. It is a primary source document used by the CJCS to develop the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP).

Further, the Security Cooperation Guidance (SCG) and JSCP provide CCDRs with specific planning guidance for preparation of their security cooperation plans (SCPs)

and contingency plans respectively[4].


[1] Hans Born, Philipp Fluri, Anders Johnsson.Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector. DCAF. Geneva.2003. p.197.

[2] http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp1.pdf

[3] Field Manuals ¹1. Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, DC, 14 June 2001.

[4] JP 1Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States. 02 May 2007.Incorporating change 1 20 March 2009. p. I-8 – I-10

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 1592

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