March 25, 2016

CNAS CEO Michèle Flournoy Releases New Report: “Nine Lessons for Navigating National Security”


Center for a New American Security (CNAS) CEO Michèle Flournoy has written a new report examining 70 years of U.S. national security policy and processes and making recommendations for the next President as he or she builds the next national security team. The report, “9 Lessons for Navigating National Security,” is part of CNAS’ Papers for the Next President series, which explore critical regions and issues the next president will have to address early in his or her tenure.

The report was originally published by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia as part of its First Year Series, which examines the history and structure of presidential first years. 

Download the report here:

Please find Flournoy’s nine recommendations for the next president below:

  1. Come into office with a clear assessment of U.S. national security challenges, opportunities, goals, and priorities, and a strategy to align the administration’s efforts in the first year.
  2. Choose a national security team based not only on individual experience, expertise, and qualifications for each respective cabinet position but also on how effectively the group will work as a team.
  3. Start with a clean sheet of paper and redesign the NSC staff and process.
  4. Pay immediate and close attention to any ongoing or imminent military or intelligence operations, particularly those that put Americans in harm’s way.
  5. Given the volume and complexity of the national security agenda, set aside time, especially early on, for a regular tempo of engagement with his or her team to set direction, monitor execution and outcomes, course correct, and learn.
  6. Develop an initial agenda of initiatives and actions designed to signal renewed U.S. leadership internationally and communicate the administration’s strategic priorities.
  7. Make a comprehensive budget deal a top national security priority.
  8. Ensure that the national security team invests in a healthy civil-military relationship.
  9. Invest in the people on the national security team, whether political appointees, civil servants, foreign service officers, intelligence professionals, or military officers.

For more information, please contact Neal Urwitz at or 202-457-9409.