The United States requires an efficient and effective national security system to successfully face security challenges during an era of increasing national threats. However, as demonstrated by the challenges following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Hurricane Katrina, a cooperative interagency system is often impeded under the current national security system, the groundwork for which was laid out 60 years ago in National Security Act of 1947.
In 2001, shortly before to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, CSPC issued Comprehensive Strategic Reform, which called for a complete reworking of the U.S. national security system. As noted in Comprehensive Strategic Reform, "The structures and doctrines the nation developed to win the Cold War have in some cases become weaknesses; many of their assumptions are no longer valid." Building on this work, in 2006 the Center began serving as the sponsoring organization for the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR), which produced conference proceedings in July 2007, a volume of case studies in 2008 and a final report in November 2008 titled Forging a New Shield. This document analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the current national security system and proposed recommendations on how this system might better be restructured. Forging a New Shield was based on research and analysis by more than 160 policy experts and others at universities and think tanks across the nation.
In November 2008, PNSR became an independent organization and can be reached at www.PNSR.org. The non-partisan PNSR is led by James R. Locher III, a principal architect of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act that restructured the joint military system. Strategic direction for the Project is set forth by a Guiding Coalition, several of whose members accepted key positions in the Obama Administration.
During its sponsorship of PNSR from 2006 to 2008, the Center provided project guidance, administrative support and substantive analysis: Center President David Abshire served as a member of the Guiding Coalition; Limor Ben-Har, CSPC Senior Fellow, served as deputy leader of the Human Capital and Resources Working Group; Alex Douville, Director of Policy Studies (now Dean of the Presidential Fellows Program and Director of Education Projects), authored a case study on the Iran-Contra affair; and CSPC Senior Advisor Dwight Ink authored a case study on recovery after the Alaska earthquake. Vice President and CFO Thomas Kirlin worked with PNSR's leadership and Lisa Phillips, then the Center's Controller, to develop grants, administrative structures and procedures this critical national effort.
The Center is currently addressing national security concerns through the Strengthening America's Future Initiative.