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National Security Management Exercise Tackles NATO’s Role After Russia’s War in Ukraine

August 15, 2022

National Security Management 2022

At the end of the spring 2022 National Security Management course (NSM), 46 participants gave a group presentation addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time: How should NATO recast its strategic posture against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

“The study group exercise asked participants to apply what they’d learned to a practical, contemporary challenge,” said Steven Grundman, NSM program manager. 

“Russia’s Feb. 25 invasion of Ukraine and the updating of NATO’s Strategic Concepts together created the perfect timely, real-life backdrop for the exercise,” he said.

The group presentation on June 9, was the culmination of 60-plus hours of coursework by members of the NSM class. Most participants serve in the U.S. military in an active duty, reserve or national guard capacity.

This project, intended to simulate a national security strategy-making exercise, takes its inspiration from Project Solarium, a 1953 national exercise in strategy and foreign policy design convened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The discussions, which included senior cabinet-level officials, focused on the strategy of containment Eisenhower had inherited from the Truman administration. The meetings were held in the solarium on the White House’s third floor.

One participant noted their group’s conclusions parallel concepts identified at NATO’s 2022 Summit held in Madrid on June 29-30. The event drew leaders from NATO’s 30 member states; the agenda included bolstering NATO’s military support in eastern Europe and reaffirming support for Ukraine.

“It was very relatable to our Solarium exercise,” said a course participant, whose role in the NSM exercise approached the question from the perspective of NATO’s secretary-general.

Maxwell professors Alan Allport (history), Renee de Nevers (political science), Margaret Hermann (political science), Osamah Khalil (history), Kathleen McInnis (war studies), Brian Taylor (political science), and Michael Williams (public administration and international affairs) served as mentors.

The course included five weekly online sessions April 27 to May 25, then a seven-day, on-campus portion June 11-17. In addition to Project Solarium, the course included presentations and readings on the history of war, national defense, NATO, and Russia and Vladimir Putin. Sessions also addressed topics including diplomacy, international finance and strategic leadership.

Graduates join more than 2,000 Maxwell alumni who form a powerful network of leaders in U.S. national security affairs. In addition to U.S. military personnel, participants may include civilians from the U.S. Department of Defense and connected agencies, including the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Department of State, private sector defense industries employees, and foreign nationals interested in the topic.

Additional information about the program can be found here. The Maxwell School offers this program twice a year; fall 2022 registration is open through mid-September. 

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