Article By: Amanda D. Stein
If you ask NPS alumnus Capt. Wayne Porter, Special Assistant for Strategic Synchronization to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, interdependence is not a weakness but a strength. And in his recently published paper, “A National Strategic Narrative,” which he co-authored with Marine Corps Col. Mark Mykleby, Porter looks to frame the United States’ primary interests, both current and future, to help create a contextual narrative to guide U.S. policy for the future.
“I think the nation is ready to re-seize our own destiny,” Porter explained. “To recognize who we are as Americans and our leadership role in a complex strategic environment. We tried to write the narrative as a non-partisan call for unity. And I think it appeals to a lot of people right now.”
He enlisted the help of a fellow “non-linear thinker,” in Mykleby, and they drafted the 11-page document in August 2009. Over the next several months they discussed its concepts with a variety of think tanks and academics along the Beltway and elsewhere, but the narrative never made it to the one person they had most hoped would see it – the President of the United States.
NPS alumnus Capt. Wayne Porter talks with Graduate School of Business and Public Policy student Lt. Jonathan Cirillo and Cebrowski Institute Research Assistant Michelle Shevin about their work in alternative energy resources following Porter’s SGL, July 26.
Despite their inability to get it to the President, they knew the paper had tremendous potential. Several months after completing the narrative, Mykleby and Porter received permission to publish the paper – with appropriate disclaimers – through the Wilson Center, and to let the document gain its own momentum through the power of the age of information.
“And so our sense was that if we could get this to kind of spread virally in a positive way, socialize it if you will, it could open a dialogue among Americans,” he noted. “We are hoping that this can be a call for unity to bring parties and people together, so that they can find the momentum to take us in the positive direction the country really needs to go.”
Capt. Wayne Porter spoke with NPS students, staff and faculty about his recently published document, titled “A National Strategic Narrative,” which he described as a “strategic context” for the United States.
Porter noted that the document is particularly valuable for the demographics represented at NPS – young men and women who are not only leaders, but “thought leaders,” for the military and the country. He suggested that the future of the U.S. should be focused more on opportunity, and less on risk and threat.
“Basically it’s a document that’s based on opportunity and hope. America’s enduring interests revolve around prosperity and security,” explained Porter. “Those two things are wholly interdependent. You can’t have one in the absence of the other. And yet our pursuit of prosperity and security is both constrained and empowered by the values that characterize us as Americans.
“So what we’re suggesting in the narrative is that we need to recognize hope and opportunity as a strength of America,” he continued. “I think reinvigorating the competitiveness that drove us to be great as a nation, and that spirit of innovation, is what young Americans are striving for. That’s what they are looking for as their generational mark on where the country is going.”
A dual-degree graduate of NPS, Porter recalled his days as a student, and encouraged current students to be both leaders in action and in thought. With over 20 years in the Navy, he understands the demands of the job, as well as the fresh new ideas that can come from young officers.
“I have a huge amount of faith in this generation because I have kids who are this generation,” he said. “I know you are full of energy, you are full of imagination, and you are fearless. And that is exactly the attitude you’ve got to take as you go forward in your career. Just remember that you are here because you are supporting and defending the constitution of the United States – for us AND our posterity.”
Posted August 4, 2011