America's enduring challenge is to promote and defend our national interest, assure
allies and friends, deter adversaries and, should deterrence fail, fight and win
against all threats — symmetric and asymmetric. To this end, we must develop,
deploy, and sustain credible offensive and defensive capabilities and authorities
to respond in an effective, appropriate, and timely fashion. The interaction of
offense and defense shapes the character, conduct, and ultimate outcomes of all
conflicts, symmetric and asymmetric. The interplay between offense and defense is
inherent in the very nature of war. Indeed, it is intrinsic to any human interaction.
While often presented as polar opposites, offense and defense constitute the essential
duality that defines any contest — be it of arms, wits, or physical prowess.
By focusing on ideas, events, and leaders that drive the evolution of national security
thought and practice, we can crystallize the central tenets that would assist both
policymakers and the national security community at large in providing for the common
defense. We must assess whether the nation has adequate legislation, authorities,
policies, procedures, tactics, techniques, and systems, and to combat asymmetric,
multi-faceted, and asynchronous threats. At this symposium, keynote speakers and
panelists explored America's capability to counter and ultimately defeat asymmetric
threats to our national security and national interests by assessing the interplay
of our nation's offensive and defensive powers.