About National Defense Planning

Learn more about the elements of the U.S. Department of Defense's ​National Defense Planning framework.

National Security Strategy

The National Security Strategy (NSS) is a report the President sends annually to Congress since 1987. It was mandated by Section 603 of the Goldwater-Nichols DoD Reorganization Act of 1986 (Public Law 99-433). The President sends the NSS to Congress to communicate the executive branch's national security vision to the legislative branch. The NSS addresses all facets of U.S. power needed to achieve the nation's security goals including international interests, commitments, objectives, and policies, along with defense capabilities necessary to deter threats and implement U.S. security plan.1 The Office of the Secretary of Defense Historical Office contains records of all National Security Strategies transmitted since 1987.

National Defense Strategy

According to the Historian of the DoD, the National Defense Strategy (NDS) was officially mandated by Congress in Section 941 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY17 (Public Law 114-328), and in accordance with the National Security Act of 1947, replaced the Quadrennial Defense Review. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is to prepare and publish the NDS every four years. Priorities of the 2022 National Defense Strategy include:

  • Defending the homeland, paced to the growing multi-domain threat posed by the PRC
  • Deterring strategic attacks against the United States, Allies, and partners
  • Deterring aggression, while being prepared to prevail in conflict when necessary, prioritizing the PRC challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russia challenge in Europe
  • Building a resilient Joint Force and defense ecosystem.2

The NDS acknowledges an increasingly complex global security environment, characterized by overt challenges to the free and open international order.3 The DoD has published a fact sheet on the 2022 NDS to supplment the full document. The NDS informs another related document, the National Military Strategy, written by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and signed by its Chairman.

National Defense Authorization Act and Defense Appropriations Bill

The U.S. Congress provides the DoD with its funding each year through two committees in the House and one committee in the Senate. The House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Armed Services develop the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including resolving any differences between the two bills via conference. Once the NDAA is passed in both the House and Senate, the House Appropriations Committee, via its Defense Subcommittee, provides the approval needed for the DoD to actually expend the funds authorized in the Defense Appropriations Bill. The most recent NDAA and Defense Appropriations Bill may be found by clicking on the links to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and House Appropriations Committee hyperlinks above, respectively.

The NDAA and Defense Appropriations Bill provide for:

  • Procurement, including aircraft, weapons and tracked combat vehicles, shipbuilding and conversion, and missiles;
  • Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation;
  • Operation and Maintenance;
  • Working Capital Funds;
  • Chemical Agents and Munitions Destruction;
  • Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities;
  • Defense Inspector General;
  • National Defense Sealift Fund; and
  • Defense Health Program.

The NDAA and Appropriations Bill also set the personnel strengths for active duty and reserve forces and sets forth policies regarding:

  • Military personnel;
  • Acquisition policy and management;
  • International programs;
  • National Guard and Reserve Force facilities;
  • Compensation and other personnel benefits;
  • Health care;
  • Material relating to COVID-19;
  • DoD organization and management;
  • Civilian personnel matters;
  • Matters relating to foreign relations; and
  • Strategic programs, space activities, cyber operations, and intelligence matters.4

1 “National Defense Strategy” U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed August 16, 2021.
2 Fact Sheet: 2022 National Defense Strategy, U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed May 23, 2021.
3 National Defense Strategy U.S. Department of Defense. Accessed August 16, 2021.
4 H.R. 6395 – William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. CONGRESS.GOV. Accessed August 16, 2021.

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