The U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (USCNS/21), also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission or Hart-Rudman Task Force on Homeland Security, was chartered by Secretary of Defense William Cohen in 1998 to provide a comprehensive review of US national security requirements in the 21st century. USCNS/21 was tasked "to analyze the emerging international security environment; to develop a US national security strategy appropriate to that environment; and to assess the various security institutions for their current relevance to the effective and efficient implementation of that strategy, and to recommend adjustments as necessary".
Released on 31 January 2001, USCNS/21 was the most exhaustive review of US national security strategy since the National Security Act of 1947. USCNS/21 was released in three distinct phases. The first phase, New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century (see further below), anticipates the emerging international security environment within the first quarter of the 21st century and examines how the US fits into that environment. The second phase, Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom (see further below), proposes a new US national security strategy based on the anticipated threats and conditions outlined in the first phase report. The third phase, Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change (see further below), recommends changes to the US government's structure, legislation, and policy to reflect a new national security strategy based on the anticipated 21st century international security environment.
According to the US Commission on National Security/21st Century Charter:
The Department of Defense recognizes that America should advance its position as a strong, secure, and persuasive force for freedom and progress in the world. Consequently, there is a requirement to:
- conduct a comprehensive review of the early 21st century global security environment, including likely trends and potential 'wild cards';
- develop a comprehensive overview of American strategic interests and objectives for the security environment we will likely encounter in the 21st century;
- delineate a national security strategy appropriate to that environment and the nation's character;
- identify a range of alternatives to implement the national security strategy, by defining the security goals for American society, and by describing the internal and external policy instruments required to apply American resources in the 21st century; and
- develop a detailed plan to implement the range of alternatives by describing the sequence of measures necessary to attain the national security strategy, to include recommending concomitant changes to the national security apparatus as necessary.
A Commission, the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (USCNS/21), will be established to fulfill this requirement, supported by a Study Group. Two individuals who have national recognition and significant depth of experience and public service will oversee the efforts of this Commission and serve as its Co-chairpersons. The study effort shall be conducted by a Study Group, composed of individuals who will be appointed as Department of Defense personnel. Based on the results of this study and the Commission's consideration thereof, the USCNS/21 will advance practical recommendations that the President of the United States, with the support of the Congress, could begin to implement in the Fiscal Year 2002 budget, if desired.
Francis G. Hoffman
New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century was the first report completed by the Commission. Released on 15 September 1999, it attempts to provide a picture of the international security environment within the first quarter of the 21st century and the anticipated role of the US in that environment. The Commission anticipates an increasingly technologically, economically, and socially integrated world, i.e. increasing globalization amidst social and political fragmentation.The report provides twelve basic assumptions of that environment and fourteen conclusions based on those assumptions.
- An economically strong United States is likely to remain a primary political, military, and cultural force through 2025, and will thus have a significant role in shaping the international environment.
- The stability and direction of American society and politics will help shape US foreign policy goals and capacities, and hence the way the US may affect the global future.
- Science and technology will continue to advance and become more widely available and utilized around the world, but their benefits will be less evenly distributed.
- World energy supplies will remain largely based on fossil fuels.
- While much of the world will experience economic growth, disparities in income will increase and widespread poverty will persist.
- The international aspects of business and commerce (trade, transportation, telecommunications, investment and finance, manufacturing, and professional services) will continue to expand.
- Non-governmental organizations (refugee aid organizations, religious and ethnic advocacy groups, environmental and other single-issue lobbies, international professional associations, and others) will continue to grow in importance, numbers, and in their international role.
- Though it will raise important issues of sovereignty, the US will find in its national interest to work with and strengthen a variety of international organizations.
- The US will remain the principal military power in the world.
- Weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological) and weapons of mass disruption (information warfare) will continue to proliferate to a wider range of state and non-state actors. Maintenance of a robust nuclear deterrent therefore remains essential as well as investment in new forms of defense against these threats.
- We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.
- As the US confronts a variety of complex threats, it will often be dependent on allies; but it will find reliable alliances more difficult to establish and sustain.
- America will become increasingly vulnerable to hostile attack on our homeland, and our military superiority will not help us.
- Rapid advances in information and biotechnologies will create new vulnerabilities for US security.
- New technologies will divide the world as well as draw it together.
- The national security of all advanced states will be increasingly affected by the vulnerabilities of the evolving global economic infrastructure.
- Energy will continue to have major strategic significance.
- All borders will be more porous; some will bend and some will break.
- The sovereignty of states will come under pressure, but will endure.
- Fragmentation or failure of states will occur, with destabilizing effects on neighboring states.
- Foreign crises will be replete with atrocities and the deliberate terrorizing of civilian populations.
- Space will become a critical and competitive military environment.
- The essence of war will not change.
- US intelligence will face more challenging adversaries, and even excellent intelligence will not prevent all surprises.
- The US will be called upon frequently to intervene militarily in a time of uncertain alliances and with the prospect of fewer forward deployed forces.
- The emerging security environment in the next quarter century will require different military and other national capabilities.
Released on 15 April 2000, Seeking a National Strategy: A Concert for Preserving Security and Promoting Freedom proposes a new national security strategy based on the anticipated 21st century international security environment. The new strategy must consider how to minimize the potential destabilizing effects of the contradictory trends of globalization and political fragmentation while promoting US interests and values worldwide.
In developing this new strategy, the Commission suggests a number of strategic considerations:
- Strategy and policy must be grounded in the national interest.
- The maintenance of America's strength is a long-term commitment and cannot be assured without conscious, dedicated effort.
- The US faces unprecedented opportunities as well as dangers in the new era.
- The US must find new ways to join with other capable and like-minded nations.
- This nation must set priorities and apply them consistently.
- America must never forget that it stands for certain principles, most importantly freedom under the rule of law.
Building on these considerations, the Commission suggests categorizing US national interests into three categories: survival, critical, and significant. Survival interests are defined as, "without which America would cease to exist as we know it". These interests encompass safety from direct attacks by hostile states and terrorists through the use of weapons of mass destruction. They also include preserving America's founding principles as outlined in the US Constitution. Critical interests are defined as, "causally one step removed from survival interests". These interests lie in the continuation of key global systems, such as global energy, economic, communications, transportation, and health infrastructures. Other critical interests include the security of US allies and preventing potentially hostile alliances from being formed to threaten US national security. Significant interests, "importantly affect the global environment in which the US must act". These interests include spreading democracy abroad and ensuring basic human rights for all the world's citizens.
Using these strategic considerations as a foundation, the Commission recommends the following as the priority objectives to the new national security strategy:
Released on 31 January 2001, Roadmap for National Security: Imperative for Change suggests "significant changes must be made in the structures and processes of the US national security apparatus". The Commission believes that without these reforms, "American power and influence cannot be sustained". Five key areas are highlighted for reform, followed by the Commissions specific recommendations for each area.
- ensuring the security of the American homeland
- recapitalizing America's strengths in science and education
- redesigning key institutions of the Executive Branch
- overhauling the US government personnel system
- reorganizing Congress's role in national security affairs
The Commission believes that the combination of weapons proliferation and terrorism will result in increased vulnerability to the US homeland. "A direct attack against American citizens on American soil is likely over the next quarter century". In order protect the homeland against this threat, the Commission suggests:
The Commission finds that the scientific and educational systems of the US are in "serious crisis". It notes how the US is in danger of lagging behind other countries in this arena. "In the next quarter century, we will likely see ourselves surpassed, and in relative decline, unless we make a conscious national commitment to maintain our edge".< The report further highlights the Commission's belief that this decline in emphasis on science and education is the gravest threat to US national security, even over weapons proliferation and terrorism. The Commission recommends:
The Commission finds that the US government has failed to restructure itself to the post–Cold War world. It recommends significant restructuring to re-align government offices, branches, and procedures with the global realities of the 21st century as well as ensure that,"strategy once again drives the design and implementation of US national security policies". The Commission urges Congress to expand its understanding of national security matters, and streamline the appropriations and authorizations committees to make intelligence and security related legislation more efficient and effective. The Commission also recommends: