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Christopher J. Lamb and Brittany Porro
Next Steps for Transforming Education at National Defense University

National Defense University (NDU) is implementing major reforms in the graduate-level programs it provides senior military officers and other national security professionals. If all goes as planned, the result will be a transformation in the way the university educates senior national security leaders.1 This article does not review the status of current change initiatives. Instead, it looks beyond the changes under way for the 2014–2015 academic year and identifies future steps senior leaders might consider in order to maintain momentum for the transformation of joint professional military education.

The Way Ahead for Human Terrain Teams

The Army fashioned Human Terrain Teams (HTT) to assist in garnering public support in Iraq and Afghanistan. The teams gather sociocultural understanding, which is essential to protecting host populations and obtaining their cooperation, but the knowledge takes time to develop and must be updated and shared among units. HTT's contribution can be increased by learning from user experience and maintaining a peacetime sociocultural knowledge regimen that can quickly transition to an HTT capacity in wartime. Vital information risks being lost if the program is further curtailed to save resources, while an enduring capability will be invaluable in future irregular operations. Without a sustained effort, needed information will repeat the past by arriving too late to be of much help.

James Douglas Orton with Christopher J. Lamb
Interagency National Security Teams: Can Social Science Contribute?

Social science can serve national security practitioners by providing insights on best practices for interagency teams. The interagency team approach is an increasingly frequent recommendation for solving the much lamented problem of inadequate coordination and collaboration for national security. Historical examples indicate interagency teams can indeed be highly effective, but recent research at NDU also suggests that interagency team effectiveness is not widespread, easily replicated, or well understood. Greater use of interagency teams would be more likely and easier to execute if senior national security leaders knew with greater certainty what factors make these teams effective. This article points the way forward for more effective interagency teams by identifying their key performance variables, extracted from a review of the literature on organizational research of teams. Far from being a merely academic exercise, the authors show how insights from organizational research can produce immediate benefits for those interested in better interagency team performance.
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