Summary of 2022 NSS

The 67th U.S. Army War College (USAWC) Annual National Security Seminar (NSS), June 6-9, was the academic capstone event for the 2022 resident course with a theme of "Building the American Military of Tomorrow." This year's NSS theme explored the Secretary of the Army's priorities: to put the Army on a sustainable strategic path amidst strategic uncertainty; to ensure the Army becomes more data-centric and can conduct operations in contested environments; to continue our efforts to be resilient in the face of climate change; to build positive command climates at scale across all Army formations; to reduce harmful behaviors in our Army; and to strategically adapt the way we recruit and retain talent into the Army to sustain the all-volunteer force.

160 guests from across the country and U.S. territories participated in the NSS providing them an opportunity to gain an understanding of perspectives of the 378 USAWC resident course graduates including 80 international officers. The U.S. graduates are America's future strategic leaders, thinkers and advisors. International officers who have graduated from the USAWC have reached the highest levels of leadership in their respective countries. The NSS provided an opportunity for the students to better understand the society they serve and for the international officers to gain an appreciation for the diverse opinions among the American population.

The NSS kicked off with an Icebreaker Reception for arriving guests at the Army Heritage and Education Center (AHEC) on Sunday evening, June 5. The NSS officially opened at the US Army War College on Monday, June 6, with a formal welcome address in Bliss Hall Auditorium by the Commandant, Major General David Hill followed by NSS guests meeting with the students in one of 25 seminar groups. In the afternoon, Ambassador Ivo Daadler, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO provided the keynote address, discussing America's Role in the World. He opened his presentation by evaluating the past to find the way forward regarding a rules-based order. The contemporary set of rules and norms that dictate how states interact with each other in the world include security, prosperity, and human rights.

Daadler's presentation suggested that opportunity lays within the domestic and international challenges the United States faces. They present opportunity for the U.S. to maintain and reshape the rules-based order to preserve American national and international interests. In 1918, following WWII and the Cold War, the U.S. was presented with the same opportunity. His ideas included reconsideration of long standing assumptions: American power is unassailable; globalization creates interdependence that fosters cooperation not conflict; the free world will always win. This re-shaping of the rules-based order can only be done of the U.S. sets the example and works together with its allies and partnered nations.

On Tuesday, How Best to Approach Future Forecasting shaped the remarks of keynote speaker Dr. Rosa Brooks. The Georgetown Associate Dean and Professor of Law & Policy touched on the importance of humility when attempting to forecast the future.

"If someone from 100 years ago, even 20 years ago, were to future forecast for 2022, they would be completely wrong," said Brooks. "This is why it is important to be humble and realize that things in our world are always changing." Brooks explored four hurdles to forecasting. From technological innovations that have connected the world; to the power and access of democracy; the balance between safety and a potential global catastrophe; and the impossibility of predicting both short and long-term technological change, she introduced caution.

Leaders should not accept future predictions rigidly for domestic or foreign affairs. Her discussion pointed to the need to consider multiple scenarios while being open to the possibility that 'anything can happen.'

In the afternoon, NSS guests, students and faculty had the opportunity to attend one of four special-topic lectures presented by War College faculty:

The final event of the day was the Commandant's Reception, where students, faculty and NSS guests enjoyed a social mixer and had the opportunity to network with their seminar colleagues and guests.

On Wednesday, Ms. Mackenzie Eaglen, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, focused on The Strategic Budgetary Questions Surrounding the Different Types of Deterrence. How do government officials and military leaders balance pacing threats with immediate threats? How are the capabilities needed for war determined and financed? How do leaders decide how much funding each service branch receives? What is the role of armor in a rapidly modernizing force and battlefield? How do all these decisions impact integrated deterrence efforts, and are they working?

The premise of her presentation was that policymakers and leaders do not have time to research the bigger trends and future challengers because they are emersed in the challenges of the day - the tyranny of the now. Think tank researchers grapple with these questions to help government and military leaders think through the challenges around the next corner and how to deter and/or address them, she suggested. Following her presentation and the morning seminar session, U.S. Army War College historians led NSS guests and their spouses on a Gettysburg Battlefield Staff Ride.

Thursday morning began with seminar discussions of the Gettysburg Staff Ride; a review of the week's learning points, followed by the week's final distinguished speaker - Ret. Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, Director of the Heritage Foundation Center for National Defense, discussing The Problems of Army Recruitment and how the Army can become a more competitive option for the younger generation.

According to Spoehr, the Army is encountering five issues related to recruiting: a stagnant number of younger adults, the declining ability of those younger adults to qualify for the military, a strong labor market that brings competition to the military service, a decrease in the public propensity to serve, and the Army's inability to implement new technological strategies to attract talent.

He noted that health issues among others, limit the recruiting population to only 23 percent of the American population, exacerbating the fact that the 18-24 year age group has stayed the same for some years and is not going to increase any time soon. Spoehr emphasized the importance of benefits that the military can bring to someone who enlists, like a potential long-term career, life stability, and financial benefits like signing bonuses. Finally, the Commandant closed the week with his concluding remarks, thanking the NSS participants for the part each played in making the event a noteworthy success.

The 2022 NSS was an engaging and thought-provoking week. NSS guests provided positive feedback, highlighting the opportunity they received in their seminar groups to discuss and debate issues, and to understand the perspective of rising military and government leaders. Keys to this year's NSS success were the diversity of the NSS guests and excellent distinguished speakers.

Contact Information

National Security Seminar
U.S. Army War College
122 Forbes Avenue
Carlisle, PA 17013
Phone: 717-245-3224