The National Security Seminar is a one-week event that creates an environment for Army War College students and distinguished guests to examine current national security issues and exchange candid dialogue. NSS takes place the first full week of June, immediately preceding graduation, and serves as a capstone event that enhances student learning through exposure to a cross section of American perspectives.
NSS provides a forum for distinguished speakers to discuss their views on issues of importance to the nation's security and welfare with students, International Fellows, and faculty of the Army War College as well as new members from across the country. The event will introduce NSS guests to some of the future leaders of the American armed forces and government and, in turn, permits the students to better understand the society they serve.
Approximately 160 new members join student seminar groups during the NSS. They come from a cross-section of American life and represent as broad a range of occupations, geographic regions, and age groups as possible. Since this is an outreach program with limited seats available, we intentionally invite new members that do not have an association with the military. This also has the effect of encouraging a free and frank exchange of differing views among the guests and students.
Approximately eight new members are assigned to each of the 20 student seminar groups. They 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 own personal experience and perspectives. New members are not expected to prepare in advance for the Seminar.
Each day includes a guest speaker who sets the theme for the day's discussions. Generally, we open the Seminar with a General Officer, currently serving or recently retired, to address current defense issues. On subsequent days speakers cover topics such as the challenges of civil-military relations, the role of domestic politics in national security, globalization, foreign policy, international security issues and the future role of the United States. Our speakers are widely recognized and accomplished experts in their respective fields.
Besides the guest speakers and the seminar discussions, new members also have the opportunity for more informal discussions at several social events. These include individual seminar socials on Monday night, a buffet dinner, and the Commandant's Reception, held at Quarters One.
In addition, new members and their spouses are provided the opportunity to take a "staff ride" to the Gettysburg Battlefield with our experienced historians.
New members may be nominated by a variety of sources, including prior NSS attendees, War College students and alumni, staff and faculty, the Army War College Foundation, as well as Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army from around the country. We do not accept self-nominations.
Individuals may nominate new members electronically using the nomination form, available from the NSS Director via the e-mail link to the left. The form also includes instructions to mail or fax the nomination.
The College accepts nominations beginning upon graduation of the previous year's class and extending through December 15. Nominations received after December 15 will be placed on a waitlist. After screening all nominations and selecting the most diverse and highly qualified, the resulting list goes to the Commandant for approval by early Feb. Invitations are mailed out by the end of February. As they return their RSVP cards, new members are confirmed for attendance on a first come, first served basis. Once all spaces are filled, any further acceptances will be asked if they wish to go onto an alternate list in case of cancellations.
Full freedom of expression is encouraged during all academic endeavors. Participants may speak openly, as it is the tradition of the College that others will not later attribute statements to them in public media or forums or knowingly transmit them to persons who will enter statements into the public arena.
Director, National Security Seminar
U.S. Army War College
The 59th Annual National Security Seminar opened on Monday, June 3 with NSS Week guests meeting their student seminars for the first time. The morning provided a formal kick-off with a Welcome Address by the Commandant, MG Cucolo. Our Keynote Address was provided by USAF General (retired) Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. General Hayden discussed "Security in a Chaotic World." At the conclusion of his remarks, he spent another 45 minutes in a question and answer session before participants returned to their student seminars. That evening, each seminar group gathered for dinner at various locations around Carlisle for a time of socializing and reviewing the day's events.
On Tuesday, Prof Susan Herman, President of the American Civil Liberties Union delivered an address on "Challenges to American Traditions of Liberty, Due Process, and Equality in a Changing World." Following the Q&A session, attendees again went to seminar rooms to discuss her remarks. After a luncheon at the Letort View Community Center (LVCC) on post, students and new members had the opportunity to attend one of four optional noontime lectures presented by Army War College faculty and staff. Tuesday's offerings included, "Chinese Economic Power and the U.S. Response," "Critical Thinking and Judgment for Strategic Leaders," "Civil War in Syria" and "Mali and the United States: Interests, Insurgencies and Terrorist Groups in West Africa." The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to seminar discussion time. The last event of this very full day was the Commandant's Reception at Quarters One, where students, faculty and new members enjoyed a social event in one of Carlisle Barracks historic buildings.
On Wednesday, Dr Norm Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), spoke about "making Policy in a Dysfunctional Political Environment." After the Q&A session, and the afternoon seminar discussion period, NSS guests and their spouses took advantage of the Gettysburg Staff Ride and spent over five hours on the battlefield with U.S. Army War College historians.
Thursday morning began with a seminar discussion of the Gettysburg Staff Ride followed by Dr. Gordon Adams address on "Defense in an Age of Fiscal Austerity." The Commandant closed the five-day event with his concluding remarks and then the fast-paced week drew to a close.
Traditionally an engaging and thought-provoking week, this year's Seminar was no different. Guests provided feedback that overwhelmingly pointed to the opportunity in student seminars to discus and debate issues and to learn the perspective of rising senior leaders as the highlight. Student feedback likewise highlighted the diversity of the new members in their seminars as well as the very high quality of the guest speakers during the week.