FEBRUARY 12, 2015, NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) – As part of the final practitioner session for students enrolled in the National Security Decision Making (NSDM) course at U.S. Naval War College (NWC), the national security affairs department hosted a panel discussion titled “Force Planning – Strategy Meets Budget,” Feb. 10.
The objective of the session was to gain perspectives from experts on the budgetary realities for the DOD, and how this impacts planning and programming for the future.
The session was also aimed at understanding the tradeoffs in the current defense and national budget and how senior officials must navigate between competing spending priorities.
The guest panelists were two policy experts from Washington: Kathleen Hicks, senior vice president of the Center of Strategic and International studies, and Dov Zakheim, senior fellow at the CNA Corporation and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“I always try to make time to do these because these are the future leaders,” said Hicks. “Whether [they will work for] the State Department or the military, the students will have an appreciation of how to bring together what they are learning in the classroom with the reality of how things work at the centers of power in Washington.”
Zakheim agreed, but added that in addition to learning about the processes, it is important that students not be shy about offering their thoughts to superiors.
“They need to walk the fine line between doing what they are supposed to do and yet prodding their superiors to maybe looking at the problem slightly differently,” said Zakheim. “If they don’t have the ability to think analytically and articulate their thoughts, even if they are totally in conflict with what their boss thinks, they are not serving themselves well, their boss well, or the country well.”
The NSDM course is designed to challenge senior-level students to engage the dynamic complexities of a rapidly evolving national and international security environment.
According to Lewis Duncan, provost of NWC, it’s these types of interactions with policy experts that enhance student understanding of the decision making challenges and processes at the national strategic level.
“The NSDM practitioner sessions offer exceptional opportunities for our students to learn from distinguished professionals at the intersection of policy, strategy and budget,” said Duncan.
“The panelists’ unique perspectives, enhanced by historical anecdotes and personal interactions with diverse government leaders, provide our students with interpretive insights into past decision-making and a pragmatic foundation for considering future possibilities.”