The Commandant's National Security Program
20-22 July 2021
"This event had a very profound effect on me as a leader, as an individual, and as a United States citizen. As a leader, the lessons learned from this event will stay with me forever."
Mr. Michael Manos
Senior Director of Data Center Services, Microsoft Corporation
The annual Commandant's National Security Program serves as the capstone event of the US Army War College Distance Education Program. The 2021 Commandant's National Security Program will be held 20-22 July 2021 at the US Army War College and will consist of a series of guest speakers and panel presentations by nationally recognized subject matter experts on topics involving national security strategy and policy. Civilian guests will be invited to attend the program along with the students.
This event has five objectives:
- First, it provides an opportunity for free and candid dialogue on national security topics with guests not typically affiliated with the national security community.
- Second, it enhances student learning and enables them to better understand the society they serve through exposure to guest perspectives.
- Third, it creates an environment for students and distinguished guests to candidly evaluate current policies and strategies.
- Fourth, it provides a forum in which distinguished speakers may present and discuss their views on national security related topics.
- Finally, it exposes community leaders to the Department of Defense and the US Army War College.
The civilian guests are nominated by a variety of sources including previous attendees, students, staff and faculty of the US Army War College. The invited guests are a select group of representatives from academia, the media, government, business, and other prominent organizations. By design, they represent a cross section of experience, contemporary interests, and views. Most of the guests have no direct affiliation with the national security community. Each is invited as a representative of their organization and its culture, someone deeply concerned with the well-being of the nation, and as a person whose experience, knowledge, and interests will enable him or her to contribute to seminar group discussions.
Approximately three guests are assigned to each of the student seminar groups. The guests are invited to become active participants in the discussions and are encouraged to probe and examine the seminar group's ideas vigorously and critically so as to give the students the benefits of their experience and perspectives. Guests are not expected to prepare for the program. Their individual backgrounds and experience, day-to-day awareness of key national and international issues, and personal commitment to the Nation more than suffice for seminar discussions.
Each day includes a guest speaker or a panel presentation and a general theme for discussion. Generally, we open the program with a senior General Officer to address the topic of strategic-level leadership. On subsequent days guest speakers or panels cover topics such as the media impact and academic perspectives on national security strategy development and implementation, the challenges of civil-military relations, the role of domestic politics in national security, globalization, foreign policy, and international security issues. Our guest speakers and panel members are widely recognized and accomplished experts in their respective fields. Following the presentations, the students, faculty, and guests continue the discussions on these topics in the student seminar rooms. It is within the free and relatively unstructured framework of seminar room discussion that the fundamental purposes of the Commandant's National Security Program are best served. It is this time spent in dialogue with students in the seminar rooms that highlight guests' experiences each year.
Besides the guest speakers and the seminar discussions, guests also have the opportunity to hear additional presentations during optional lunch time lectures on various national security related topics. More informal discussions will take place at several social events. These include individual student seminar socials and the Commandant's Reception. In addition, guests are provided the opportunity to take a "staff ride" to the Gettysburg Battlefield with our experienced historians.
The non-attribution policy of the Army War College ensures that guest speakers, guests, students, and faculty may enjoy a comfortable, open, free and frank exchange of thoughts, ideas, and opinions.