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Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Free Courses in National Security and Intelligence

Let's say you have an interest in national security and intelligence but neither the time nor the money to attend a degree or credential program covering those topics - where can you turn to get some insight into such matters?

Well, you might start with POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security from Saylor.org
The study of United States intelligence and national security operations is an analysis of how the various branches of government work together and, as a check upon each other, how they work to protect and promote American interests at home and abroad. The purpose of this course is to provide you with an overview of national security policy analysis and the United States intelligence community. As you progress through this course, you will learn about strategic thought and strategy formulation, develop the ability to assess national security issues and threats, and cultivate an understanding of the political and military institutions involved in the formulation and execution of national security policy through diplomacy, intelligence operations, and military force. This course will examine problems and issues regarding United States national security policy. A large section of the course will deal with the major actors and institutions involved in making and creating national security policy and the intelligence community. National security is the most critical role of your government, without which, all other policies could not be created.
A key component of the above course being U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security
Policy and Strategy, 2nd Edition:
This edition of the U. S. Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy reflects to some extent recent changes in the structure of the core curriculum at the War College. The college broke its traditional core course, “War, National Policy and Strategy,” into two courses: “Theory of War and Strategy” and “National Security Policy and Strategy.” The result for this book is the expansion of the block on strategic theory and the introduction of a block on specific strategic issues. Because little time has past since the publication of the most recent version of this book, this edition is largely an expansion of its predecessor rather than a major rewriting. Several chapters are new and others have undergone significant rewrites or updates, but about two-thirds of the book remains unchanged. Although this is not primarily a textbook, it does reflect both the method and manner we use to teach strategy formulation to America’s future senior leaders. The book is also not a comprehensive or exhaustive treatment of either strategy or the policymaking process. The Guide is organized in broad groups of chapters addressing general subject areas. We begin with a look at some specific issues about the general security environment—largely international. The section on strategic thought and formulation includes chapters on broad issues of strategy formulation as well as some basic strategic theory. The third section is about the elements of national power. A section on the national security policymaking process in the United States precedes the final section that deals with selected strategic issues.
While you are at it, this title from the AWC might be a good one Strategy and Grand Strategy: What Students and Practitioners Need to Know:
In this monograph, Dr. Tami Davis Biddle examines why it is so difficult to devise, implement, and sustain sound strategies and grand strategies. Her analysis begins with an examination of the meaning of the term “strategy” and a history of the ways that political actors have sought to employ strategies and grand strategies to achieve their desired political aims. She examines the reasons why the logic undergirding strategy is often lacking and why challenges of implementation (including bureaucratic politics, unforeseen events, civil-military tensions, and domestic pressures) complicate and undermine desired outcomes. This clear-headed critique, built on a broad base of literature (historical and modern; academic and policy-oriented), will serve as a valuable guide to students and policymakers alike as they seek to navigate their way through the unavoidable challenges—and inevitable twists and turns—inherent in the development and implementation of strategy.

If you can gain access, the "self-study" courses offered by The Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security might be of interest:
These courses are developed by the NPS CHDS teaching faculty and are derived from course content (lecture material and course readings) from the Center’s homeland security master’s degree curriculum. The courses, offered at no cost, are designed for homeland defense and security professionals who wish to enhance their understanding of key homeland security concepts and require the flexibility of self-paced instruction.
There are several good titles offered, including "Critical Infrastructure Protection: Transportation Security" and "Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerability Analysis and Protection" the latter course description ought to prompt some thinking all by it self:
Critical Infrastructure protection is one of the cornerstones of homeland security. While PDD-63 lists 8 sectors, the National Strategy for Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets lists 11 sectors: Water, Power & Energy, Information & Telecommunications, Chemical Industry, Transportation, Banking & Finance, Defense Industry, Postal & Shipping, Agriculture & Food, Public Health, and Emergency Services. For the purposes of this course, we have divided these into levels with Water, Power & Energy, and Information & Telecommunications forming the first – or foundational – level. Chemical Industry, Transportation, and Banking & Finance are assigned level 2, and the remaining sectors are designated level 3 infrastructures. These levels indicate dependencies – higher levels are dependent on lower levels. Thus we focus most attention on the most fundamental critical infrastructures. This course develops a network theory of vulnerability analysis and risk assessment called “model-based vulnerability analysis” used to extract the critical nodes from each sector, model the nodes’ vulnerabilities by representing them in the form of a fault-tree, and then applying fault and financial risk reduction techniques to derive the optimal strategy for protection of each sector.

Not surprisingly, YouTube has some good discussions:

The point being, there is stuff out there for the autodidacts among you.

You might not get a piece of paper at the end, but you will know what you know.

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