The greatest source of strength in American national security is the people who lead and serve within its institutions. The ongoing U.S. response to the global coronavirus outbreak has underscored the critical role of America's workforce. Investing in the health, diversity, professional development, oversight, and effectiveness of this workforce remains essential for long-term U.S. competitiveness.
CNAS experts continue to examine the challenges and opportunities facing America's national security institutions, including the armed services, federal agencies, the United States Congress, and more. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their recommendations for strengthening U.S. competitiveness by investing in America's national security workforce.
Reports and Policy Briefs
The federal national security workforce has entered a perfect storm shaped by workforce demographic trends, short-sighted leadership, slow adaptation to modern challenges, and inflexible talent acquisition and management. In a 2019 briefing for Congress, CNAS Deputy Director of Studies Loren DeJonge Schulman argued that this dynamic must change and Congress should treat civilian human capital as a vital building block in America's foreign policy.
In a February report, researchers from the CNAS Military, Veterans, and Society Program examined the challenges facing veterans who are women, LGBT, or racial and ethnic minorities in New York state and nationwide. They identified multiple disparities in veteran outcomes across critical life domains and makes recommendations for how researchers, veteran service organizations, and the Department of Veterans Affairs can best support the needs of an increasingly diverse veteran population.
Experts from across the Center have offered timely analysis on strengthening America's national security workforce.
- Last December, Kayla M. Williams testified before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, telling members of Congress that "there is no reason that services cannot or should not set significantly more aggressive goals for recruiting women – and raise them again once they are met."
- Susanna V. Blume wrote in Defense One that "rather than accepting delays in essential but not urgent tasks (like building annual budgets), the [Department of Defense] needs to ensure that it can weather shocks like COVID-19 by enabling service members and civilians who can do their jobs remotely to do so."
- In an August 2019 working paper, Carrie Cordero argued that "changes that are both achievable and have the potential to improve public confidence in the [intelligence] committees and the intelligence community mostly involve a relatively modest set of rules adjustments and informal processes."
- Loren DeJonge Schulman wrote for Defense One in January that "with its democratic values, open economy, and diverse citizenry, the United States possesses a number of distinct advantages in the development of human capital, and public service remains a top career choice for young people."
- In a March 2020 commentary for the Center, Emma Moore found that "sufficient time has passed to note the status of integration across components and to see returns on recruitment and retention."
- COL Sarah Albrycht warned in a February piece for Fifth Domain: "Advances in digital technology combined with unregulated data collection threaten to make the homefront the military’s new front line."
- In May 2019, Elsa B. Kania and Emma Moore argued in Defense One that "talent is and will remain at the core of America’s competitive advantage over China."
In the News
Featuring commentary and analysis by Loren DeJonge Schulman, Paul Scharre, Jason Dempsey, Amy Schafer, and Emma Moore.
Across the Center
Renewing American competitiveness will require a strong, skilled, and diverse national security workforce. Now more than ever we need to empower and equip the next generation of national security and foreign policy professionals. It’s time to make room for diversity across the national security space—on the Hill, in the Situation Room, and at think tanks. Make Room aims to empower communities underrepresented in national security, educate the next generation of leaders, and provide a platform to share their expert perspectives.
This January, CNAS launched “America Competes 2020,” a Center-wide initiative to renew American competitiveness at home and abroad. Amid increasingly fractured and partisan policy debates, CNAS will produce specific, actionable policy recommendations for how the United States can compete more effectively across a range of vital national security arenas.
About the Sharper Series
The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.
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