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Seminar: Security Perceptions and Doctrinal Approaches: Designing and Implementing Security Strategies
13-14 October, 2005
Radisson SAS Grand Hotel

National security strategy – Design and Methodology

Anyu Angelov, Lt. Gen (ret)
Centre for Study of national Security Foundation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firts of all I would like to thank the organizers for giving me this opportunity to share with such distinguished audience some ideas about the structure and the methodology of developing of the national security strategy- one of the most important basic strategic documents for any country.

You might be aware, that we, in Bulgaria, developed a new strategy at the end of last year. The project, called “Strategy for Security of Republic of Bulgaria.”, is not adopted by the parliament yet. There are many reasons for this delay, but one of them has got more or less theoretical dimension. How do we define the term of national security and what would we include in the strategy? Is the national or the international security in the focus of the strategy after our accession to NATO and should we so easy skip the word “national” in the title I have just mentioned? And so on.

Talking about the national security, I personally understand relatively stable, (both in physical and psychological sense) state of the nation that could be characterized by internal and external conditions, when the vital and first grade national interests are reliably protected from contemporary risks and threats to sufficiently high degree.

The term “national security” does not indicate that we are going to protect our security using only national means. On the contrary. It indicates that we are going to use all means, ours and our alias from NATO and EU, to protect Bulgarian national interests, whenever they could be under threat. I think that in the contemporary global world we still have to keep these two words together the reason for that is the fact that not always and not obligatory our national interests, whenever they could be under threat. I think that in the contemporary global world we still have to keep these two worlds together. The reason for that is the fact that not always and not obligatory our national interests will fully coincide with the common interests of NATO and EU or with individual interests of any of their members.

In my opinion, in the structure of the national security strategy, the following elements should be included by all means.

In an introduction we can underline what is the base of this document ( for example the Constitution or other acts of the parliament of the government, including the conclusions of the Strategic security Review, what is the purpose of the strategy; to what extend it is in conformity with the Strategic Security concept of NATO or EU. Very important part of this chapter should be the basic assumptions and conceptual principals, upon which the strategy is built. Conceptual principles could be that Bulgaria does not consider any of its neighbours as an enemy, Bulgaria does not have any territorial aspirations towards is neighbours and declines any aspirations from their side, or the fact, that Bulgarian Armed Forces are under imminent democratic (political, parliamentarian and civilian) control.

The second chapter in a natural and logical order should be devoted to the definition of the national interests in the realm of security. This is the most difficult task to do. But also it is of great importance, because without clear definition, it is impossible to define the risks and treats for these interests and to articulate the goals of the strategy and real political actions needed for their achievement.

Because the full scope of interests is too broad, we have to prioritize them and to pick out two groups – let’s call them vital national interests and first grade national interests. Vital national interests are those interests, the impairment of which are of exceptional importance for the physical existence of the nation itself. The vital interest is consistent and irrevocable. I would call first grade interest that interest, impairment of which could become a threat for one or more vital interest and could cause growing up negative feelings of insecurity among the society. The first grade interests are not constantly valid and their importance could vary depending on the changes in the internal and external security environment.

As third step we should analyze and assess the international and national security environment and elaborate prognoses for its long-term and short-term development, sharply outlining the positive and negative tendencies.

Being equipped by these analyses and prognoses we are able to proceed to the recognition and prioritization of the risks and threats by the probability of their arising and by the type of interest they could damage.

The next step is the core of the national security strategy and the main characterization distinguishing a strategy from a concept. We should determine the strategic goals of the security policy and the main political actions for their achievement. It should be done for every aspect of security, where we have recognized risks and threats of first priority and have found whatever means for diminishing their influence or for their full neutralization. The scope of aspects could embrace foreign policy, defence policy, internal security policy, economic and social security policy, environmental security policy and so on.

The last but not least a special place should be devoted to the analysis of the existing system of national security and the determination of the basic trends and activities for its improvement and control.

The strategy have to be concluded by the assignment of the periods of time for reviewing and reporting about the same of the national security and for updating of national security strategy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Having in mind, that our experience, in my opinion, is rather negative than positive, let me say some words about the elaboration’s methodology of this basic strategic document of greatest importance.

First of all I would like to mention, that the Bulgarian practice of assigning this mission to an ad hoc interdepartmental working group turned out to be counter-productive. The members of this group are seconded to that mission and they are not able to analyse all processes and changes in the security environment and in the state of the national security system steadily and reliably long before the task was laid on their shoulders. It is also impossible to hold them responsible for what they have done. So it is much wiser to assign the mission to the Security control Administration as a primer executive body, if there is such an institution. For this reason the Security Council of the Cabinet or in the Presidency should not be a consultative, but an executive body. The administration of the Council has to have all capabilities needed for profound analyses and prognoses.

The administration of the Security Council should prepare the project of the structure of the document with the basic assumptions and conceptual principles of the future strategy and creates a plan with the tasks and responsibilities of their institutions involved and the proper timing. The relevant institutions have to have steady working groups for national security matters. Using them, the institutions turn back their standpoints and proposals. The SC administration sums up, makes appropriate changes and presents the project to the SC for approval.

Further order of elaboration could include three consecutive stages, using the same procedures as in the case of the structure:

- first stage- defining national interest, assessment and analysis of the security environment and formulating the risks and threat;

- second stage- elaboration of strategic goals and basic political actions for their achievement; third stage- summing up all materials in an unified document.

Each stage ends up with a broad discussion, organized by the administration, involving members of working groups of the relevant institutions, representatives of NGOs and independent experts. Using the results of discussions the administration makes appropriate changes and presents the part of the project to the SC for approval. Any of the approved parts of the project become a base for elaboration of the next part.

At the end of all three stages the administration of the SC creates the first working variant of the national security strategy, sends in to the President, parliamentarian committees and the institutions involved and organizes again discussions. As a result of them the administration prepares the second working variant and presents it to the SC. After the approval this variant is to be send to the President for putting forward to the National Security Consultative Council. All proposals are to be summed up in a final variant, which has to be approved consecutively by the SC, the government and, at the end of the day, by the parliament. Ladies and gentlemen,
That concludes my presentation.
Thank you for your attention and I am looking forward to your questions.
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