POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security

Course Syllabus for "POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security"

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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. You will begin this course with an overview of national security interests in unit 1. In units 2 - 4, you will learn about the roles and powers possessed by each actor in the United States national security process, including responsibilities of the president, the executive branch, Congress, the military, and intelligence agencies. In unit 5, you will review the policymaking process and will consider policy analysis. In units 6 - 9, you will study specific types of national security issues and strategies that the government has used to solve these problems. Some problems include the threat of nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare; the impact of regional, sectarian, and tribal conflicts on national security interests; the threat of terrorism; and the impact of economic strife and scarce resources.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • describe and identify nationalsecurity interests that have been applied during various periods of US history;
  • identify key agencies within the US Intelligence community and their respective missions;
  • describe the roles and powers of various actors and organizations in the policymaking and implementation process within the field of US national security;
  • analyze the various political, social, economic, military, legal, and ethical goals and values that form the basis of policymaking decisions;
  • apply various decision frameworks used by policymakers and leaders in developing and executing national security policies; and
  • explain the context, evolution, risks, and linkages of national security issues, alternatives, and solutions.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook; and

√    have completed and passed the following courses from the Core Program of the political science discipline: POLSC101: Introduction to Politics and POLSC231: Introduction to American Politics.

Course Information

Welcome to POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.
Course Designer: Dr. Sharon Jumper
Primary Resources: This course comprises a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following resources:

 You will be using US Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy, 2nd edition throughout the course, so it may be useful to download the text now and save it to your desktop for easy access.
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. You will also need to complete the activities in each unit as well as the final exam.
Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you need to work through all of the resources and activities in the course.

In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 152.5 hours to complete. This course also includes approximately 8 hours of optional content. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These time advisory sections should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories, to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take you 19 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 6.5 hours) on Monday and Tuesday nights; subunit 1.2 (a total of 4 hours) on Wednesday night; and so forth.

Tips/Suggestions: Issues of national security can be quite complex; solutions to problems will often involve considerations beyond military defense. History, culture, religion, trade, economics, and relationships with other countries must be taken into consideration in order to implement successful military and homeland security operations. Be mindful of these factors as you progress through the course, and reflect on how these factors have played roles in both successful and unsuccessful national security strategies and military operations of the United States.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.