Accessibility links

Breaking News

Washington Journal: Expert Says America Needs Reform In National Security

Washington, 11 November 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A prominent American scholar says now that the Cold War is over, the U.S. needs structural reform and stronger presidential leadership in national security.

Stephen Cambone, Director of Research at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, outlined his thoughts in a study entitled, "A New Structure For National Security Policy Planning." The study was sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Cambone says that ever since the end of the Cold War, there has been an acute need for restructuring national security policies and priorities in the U.S. Today American national security is structured according to the National Security Act of 1947. This Act governs, regulates and determines the infrastructure and procedures of America's national security.

But Cambone argues that the Act is outdated since it was created over 50 years ago when the U.S. was responding to single, international security threat -- the Soviet Union. Cambone says the security challenges now faced by the U.S. have changed significantly and will likely undergo an even more radical transformation in the near future.

He outlined several recommendations:

First, he says the U.S. should create a new institutional structure called the National Security Directorate (NSD). Cambone says the Directorate would be an organization within the executive branch of government under the direct control of the president. The president would head the Directorate.

The overall mission of the Directorate would be to develop, plan and execute national security policies and operations, says Cambone. The organization itself would be divided into five parts: crisis management; regional affairs; home defense affairs; finance and trade; and science and technology.

Each part would be headed by a cabinet secretary and would operate only by the direction of the president, he adds. All of the cabinet secretaries would be subjected to confirmation by the Senate, thereby preserving Congress's check on the executive branch.

Cambone writes: "The confirmation process is meant to impose on the president, via the positions the nominees present, the obligation to articulate clearly and publicly the nature and object of presidential security policy. The nation's security policy would then be entrusted to a chain of command fully accountable constitutionally, in other words, accountable to the American people."

The second major recommendation, says Cambone, would be to replace the current position of national security advisor. Today, the national security advisor is the primary person responsible for briefing the president on matters of national security.

Cambone says the national security advisor role would become the responsibility of the deputy director of the NSD, who would be directly beneath the president in the chain of command. Cambone suggests that the president may wish to place his vice-president in this position or name someone else. However, if the position is given to anyone other than the vice-president, the person must be subject to the same confirmation process as the other cabinet secretaries, he adds.

The third major recommendation, says Cambone, is the establishment of a joint career staff, meaning that the NSD would be able to utilize staff from other departments and agencies throughout the government as needed.

The final recommendation, says Cambone, is to replace the current National Security Council (NSC) with a council of advisors. The National Security Council is charged with advising the president in matters relating to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies affecting national security. The four statutory members are the president, the vice president, and the secretaries of state and defense. It has an important role in implementing as well as formulating policy in regards to national security.

But unlike the NSC, the new advisory council would be composed of the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the cabinet secretaries from the NSD, says Cambone. The council would be convened whenever the president wanted its advice, but it would have no authority to implement or direct policy. This authority would be left to the president alone.

Concludes Cambone: "The reforms proposed are essentially an appeal to leadership, creating through a more agile and accountable organization, the ability as well as the political and institutional imperative, for the president to take the lead in forging a public consensus on security affairs.