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These are the components required in a Policy Paper:

Cover Page

Executive Summary

On its own page. Distil the essence of the whole paper, provide an overview for the busy reader. It should be written last, after you have finished the paper. It should mention the three options you review, then clarify the recommendation you make at the end of the paper for what to do.

What is the Problem?

Present the urgency of the problem for national security and how if we don’t act, there will be a number of consequences. You might review (briefly!) what has been done already to try to fix this problem, and be sure to clarify what is the objective of a new/changed/policy: if we do X, we will enhance our security in the area of anti-missile defense, and …. You are trying as well to create curiosity for your reader to read the rest of your brief. Why is this a current issue (Chinese have just announced new money into R&D in this area….)

Discussion of Three Policy Options

Presentation of three options, and their pros and cons. Go into some detail as to how Option X works to meet the security gap/need/problem you have outlined above. Use facts and support to make a case for why this might be the right policy choice. Statistics and charts and costs are a good idea. Yet it should not be overly technical. Highlight the benefits, costs, opportunities, problems of each option. Mention if there are competing narratives that lead in another direction. Each of these policy options should be about a page or so long and well supported with citations.


State the preference for ONE of the three, and clearly make a strong case for why this option is the best policy. Why are its benefits better than the other two options? Why do you propose this as your recommendation for your reader and this problem? Give a time frame: You should do part A of my recommendation now, and then follow up in next six months with part B of this recommendation. [Make a declaration that the US will not allow Russia to gain missile superiority in Europe, and are committing to enhancing anti-missile shields in place over the next six months. There will be new deployments in the field within six months, and a follow up new budgetary commitment in the 2019 budget for new R&D.]

This is an argument for the ‘Best’ Option (most cost-effective, most technologically advanced, best balance of budgetary constraints, able to defeat their current and expected developments/deployment, etc) and a ‘call to action’ for your reader. Be precise, and give them clear things to do that are relevant, credible and feasible. You are establishing why this particular option is different and better, so don’t just say ‘it is better’. Make the case that is ‘best’ or ‘most cost effective’ or ‘most effective’ policy from the other options you presented.

Summary of implications of what this policy will do for your reader/national security in the short to medium term

Here in a short paragraph or so you step back and state what the consequences of your recommendation will be: If you choose this recommendation, the Russians will…, US troops in Europe will ….., and in the long run the message of deterrence


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