Time for a National Security Strategy

Author: Rothery, C.
Published in National Security Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019

of-government approach to national security and one that provides direction on the coordination of national security capabilities. This article will propose how a national security strategy could be formulated, with an emphasis on the coordination of strategic documents that are nested under an overarching strategy.

New Zealand’s National Security Framework

The role of the New Zealand Government is to provide security and ensure the territorial integrity of New Zealand. The government must protect the institutions that sustain confidence, promote the achievement of national goals and through providing security, support the pursuit of economic opportunities, the provision of international relationships and help to build a sense of community.¹ The New Zealand Government defined national security as ‘the coordination which permits the citizens of a state to go about their daily business confidently free from fear and able to make the most of the opportunities to advance their way of life. It encompasses preparedness, protection and preservation of people, property and information, both tangible and intangible’.² The government recognised that New Zealand’s security is increasingly linked to security in other countries and therefore seeks to reinforce its national security through partnerships and by supporting an international rules-based order.³ New Zealand’s approach to national security is provided through an ‘all-of-government’ National Security System (NSS) that has tended to react to events, rather than systematically bringing a forward-looking approach to risk reduction’. It is a system that emphasises risks and a resilience-based methodology. It is a reactionary approach with a system centrally con- trolled by government. It is the responsibility of DPMC to coordinate New Zealand’s national security framework.

The NSS is designed to ensure that the security architecture performs as intended and the details of how it operates is contained within the NSS Handbook. When a crisis event occurs that challenges national security, the NSS is activated. The response to the crisis is built around the threat that occurs, therefore, its makeup will vary depending on the threat and has varying levels of coordination. At the executive level, the Official’s Committee for Domestic and External Coordination (ODSEC) provides strategic advice to the Prime Minister, and other Ministers, on such matters as priorities for resource and capability allocation. An example where ODSEC provided guidance was during the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. ODSEC provided advice on possible implications for New Zealand citizens in France and also any threats to New Zealand.5 Informing the NSS and ODSEC is the Security and Intelligence Group (SIG). SIG provides assessments to the Prime Minister, senior ministers and senior officials on security events and security related developments. SIG performs a collaborative leadership role within the wider New Zealand intelligence community and with the Intelligence and Assessments Bureau, coordinates all the source assessments for response and advice decision making.6