The next commander in chief won't have time to slowly ease into the foreign policy turmoil facing America right now, one prominent defense expert is warning.
"The two and a half months between Election Day and Inauguration Day are simply not enough time to do this work well," she wrote.
"Rather, the Republican and Democratic nominees should each empower a team to begin working, even before the election, to assess the national security environment, develop a strategic framework and set of guiding principles, and articulate a clear set of priorities that will inform the administration's early actions on national security."
"The next president will therefore need to articulate a clear vision of U.S. leadership in the world, and take concrete steps to demonstrate the United States' willingness and ability to uphold its commitments and defend its interests, values, and allies around the world," she said.
Doing that will mean setting up a national security team "who are deeply knowledgeable on the issues … and can lead and manage large institutions effectively." She recommends top advisers have prior service in one of the national security agencies, but also calls for a redesign of the national security council to clarify and simplify each appointee's role.
The report "Nine Lessons for Navigating National Security" is part of CNAS' "Papers for the Next President" series.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of CNAS
Flournoy notes that the president's national security staff has steadily grown over the last two administrations, going "beyond its traditional writ of helping the president develop strategy, set policy priorities, and define the limits that should guide execution to become more engaged in managing the day-to-day details of how agencies execute national security policies and programs."
"Most presidents, and many members of the national security team, come into office without any military experience or even any experience working with the military," the report states. "In some cases, they may have no clear concept for how civil-military relations should work; in other cases, they may arrive with misconceptions about how their military counterparts think and behave.
"Similarly, on the military side, senior officers may come to the table with unrealistic expectations about how the civil-military relationship is supposed to work (too often based on theories taught in war colleges that may have little grounding in reality)."
Managing and easing those misunderstandings is critical, Flournoy argues. Getting a mix of civilian appointees and individuals with military experience can help ease those tensions.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.