I found the National Security Strategy (NSS) publication timing and the setting of President Trump’s speech both significant. Publication within the first year of the Trump Administration is remarkable. The timing shows he recognized the importance of this document to drive change across agencies and shows the competence of his senior national security team. The speech setting both evoked Reagan and pointed to serious support for the full set of instruments of national power.
The setting was not a military base or DHS, rather it was the Ronald Reagan Building, whose tenants include USAID, Commerce, Trade, and CBP as well as the Woodrow Wilson Center. That reinforced the new President’s intent to use the informational and economic tools of national power. So, while President Trump was addressing multiple audiences with his words, his physical presence delivering the speech also underscored his intent.
Publication of the NSS matters because it drives agencies to produce supporting strategy documents, replacing Obama Administration documents and doctrine and stripping the #DeepState #Resistance of legal cover for continuing to act under last published guidance. My quick search across agencies found these strategy documents in place at major agencies affecting national security: Department of State and USAID Strategic Plan, National Intelligence Strategy, Department of Defense National Military Strategy, Treasury Strategic Plan, and Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan. Watch for each to be updated in the next few months as President Trump’s NSS drives change.
Beyond the speed and symbolism of this NSS, I was encouraged by the contents, which advocate cost-effective changes to government business as usual and break down the agencies stovepipe views. In a series of posts, I will explain basic terms (DIME), discuss changes to procurement, and show how this new strategy document coordinates the whole of government to address China, North Korea, and Iran. The new National Security Strategy puts meat on the bones of Making America Great Again through making America secure again. A very good start.