America’s First Quarter Millennium: Envisioning a Transformed National Security System in 2026

November 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

As America approaches the end of its first quarter-millennium, it stands at a crossroads. One way lays the path of inertia and declining returns from an aging national security system. The other way is the “road less travelled by,” leading to greater security and prosperity for future generations. To commit to this road, we must first envision its destination: a transformed national security system. A clear vision of a newly created system will point the way ahead for change, reduce fear of the unknown, attract commitment, and demonstrate that transformation is doable.

The Project on National Security Reform envisions an anticipatory, collaborative, agile, and innovative system capable of combining all elements of national strength, integrating intelligence, making timely and informed decisions, and taking decisive action. A transformed system would be characterized by a broadened and re-balanced concept of national security, whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approaches, unity of purpose and effort, and prioritized investments emphasizing strengths and opportunities. Catching up with the private sector, government organizations would be flatter, less redundant, leaner, more adaptive, teamed, and networked. Resources would be aligned with strategic goals. Collaborative among the departments and between the public and private sectors, the system would engage the full panoply of the nation’s strengths, especially our still considerable “soft power.” Transforming national security would also help cause transformation of other government systems.

America’s First Quarter Millennium, a short, modular vehicle, seeks to inspire a true “national conversation” to imagine this future. It is a public-working-draft, casting a wide net among a broad range of traditional and nontraditional stakeholders, to capture the best of America’s collective wisdom and co-create a consensus for communication back to elites in and out of Washington. Written in the past tense, it looks back in order to look forward. In logical progression, its components include: comprehensive strategy; foresight and anticipatory governance; strategic management; interagency high-performance teaming; integrated and flexible national security resourcing; role of Congress; public-private partnering and global networking; and our greatest strength –human capital.

This paper forms a base document for launching dialogue and discussion. Web-based platforms, which can be accessed at, will provide the means for this commentary.

James R. Locher III
President and CEO
Project on National Security Reform

Download the paper here and leave a comment for discussion.