New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking

New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking

Stuart E. Johnson
Martin C. Libicki
Gregory F. Treverton
Bruce W. Bennett
Nurith Berstein
Frank Camm
David S.C. Chu
Paul K. Davis
Daniel B. Fox
James R. Hosek
David Mussington
Stuart H. Starr
Harry J. Thie
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 412
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1576rc
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  • Book Info
    New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking
    Book Description:

    The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold WarÑand then the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001Ñtransformed the task of American foreign and defense policymaking. This book outlines the dimensions of that transformation and sketches new tools for dealing with the policy challengesÑfrom modeling and gaming, to planning based on capabilities rather than threats, to personnel planning and making use of "best practices" from the private sector.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3410-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
  8. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)
    Stuart E. Johnson, Martin C. Libicki and Gregory F. Treverton

    It is commonplace to say, but still easy to underestimate, how much the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War transformed the task of U.S. foreign and defense policymaking. And the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have opened yet another era, one whose shape and dimensions are yet to be understood. This volume addresses the new challenges of this changed world, the difficulties for defense planning that these challenges engender, and new analytic techniques that have been developed at RAND and elsewhere for framing particular problems.

    During the Cold War, the Soviet threat provided...

  9. Part I. New Challenges for Defense

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART I
      (pp. 10-12)

      Defense planning during the Cold War was dominated by the threat from the Soviet Union. It was, in that sense, threat based. It also was, to a great extent, symmetrical, based on force-on-force calculations for U.S. and Soviet armored forces, fighter jets, and the like. In these circumstances, the U.S. planning structure within the Pentagon became increasingly centralized, seeking to maximize the benefits from various investments in ways to better cope with the Soviet threat.

      All the practices that made considerable sense during the Cold War badly need to be rethought now. Soviet strategy may have been more creative than...

    • Chapter One DECISIONMAKING FOR DEFENSE
      (pp. 13-32)
      David S.C. Chu and Nurith Berstein

      Defense is, for all nations, at the heart of national security. All nations face a common set of choices—what decisions must be made, who will make them, how resources will be allocated, and what investments will be made. At one level up, nations have to decide what principles and style of decisionmaking are appropriate for them, and, importantly, what structure will govern the process of defense decisionmaking. This chapter discusses these choices and reviews the issues that must be addressed in devising a governance structure for making them, drawing on U.S. experiences over the last half century. It concludes...

    • Chapter Two RESPONDING TO ASYMMETRIC THREATS
      (pp. 33-66)
      Bruce W. Bennett

      As Chapter One indicates, Cold War planning dealt largely with “symmetric” threats—strength-on-strength planning vis-à-vis the Warsaw Pact, especially in central Europe. Warfighters find it easiest to address such threats, ones they understand thanks to the Cold War experience. But America’s ability to prevail handily against symmetric threats has forced U.S. adversaries to pursue asymmetric threats. In one sense, strategies often include asymmetric components in that they seek to exploit the other side’s vulnerabilities, but the Cold War’s image of two broadly similar superpowers obscured that fact.

      The 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) identified asymmetric threats, or “challenges,” as a...

    • Chapter Three WHAT INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE FOR DEFENSE?
      (pp. 67-96)
      Martin C. Libicki

      We live amidst an information revolution, which is to say, a revolution in the capabilities of information technologies and infrastructures. The quality and quantity of the information we receive have greatly increased, but for information to be truly useful, it must improve the quality of our decisions, which, in turn, are judged by the quality of the resultant actions.

      Two-thirds of all personal computers and almost all networks and databases are used for business, not recreation. Plausibly, therefore, most decisions that information technology supposedly improves are those made in an organizational context. They result, one way or another, from interactions...

  10. Part II. Coping with Uncertainty

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART II
      (pp. 98-102)

      Defense planning involves a host of factors that interact with each other over a time period often measured in decades. The first M-1 tanks and the first F-16 aircraft entered the force more than 20 years ago, and most of the Navy’s capital ships stay in the force for 30 years or more. The longer the time horizon, the harder it is to know the parameters of a decision with any precision. At any point, there are “knowns”—things people know they know; “known unknowns”—things people know they do not know; and “unknown unknowns”—things people do not know...

    • Chapter Four INCORPORATING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN DEFENSE PLANNING
      (pp. 103-130)
      Martin C. Libicki

      Inherent in the human condition is the fact that although we will live the rest of our lives in the future, every decision we make is based on what we have learned from the past. For defense planners, this is more than a nominal or philosophical conundrum. Those who plan defense programs face the very real possibility that the world in which these programs reach fruition will be different from the one in which they were planned.

      This chapter introduces some guidelines for, if not predicting the future correctly, then at least coming closer to a correct prediction than do...

    • Chapter Five UNCERTAINTY-SENSITIVE PLANNING
      (pp. 131-156)
      Paul K. Davis

      Consider some of the major strategic surprises that affected national security in past decades.¹ Some of these were negative; some were positive:

      Cuban missile crisis

      Sadat’s peace mission to Israel

      Fall of the Shah of Iran and resulting hostage crisis

      Disintegration of the Soviet Union

      Peaceful reunification of Germany

      Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait

      East Asian economic collapse of the late 1990s

      India’s nuclear testing and Pakistan’s response

      Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon

      Now consider some purely military surprises of the past 50 years:

      Torpedoes in U.S. submarines fail to detonate (World War II)

      Early air-to-air radar-guided...

    • Chapter Six PLANNING THE FUTURE MILITARY WORKFORCE
      (pp. 157-180)
      Harry J. Thie

      Different questions about military manpower requirements, manpower costs, and trained personnel inventory have emerged as important at various times. For example, just before World War II, the most important question was how to procure a large force immediately. After World War II, the emphasis shifted to managing a large inventory of people with military experience. Now, the emphasis is on recruiting in a highly competitive labor market. Although the broad questions remain fixed, particular aspects of them—recruiting, training, retaining, promoting, compensating, and retiring—receive more or less emphasis at particular times, depending on the nation’s military, social, and economic...

    • Chapter Seven THE SOLDIER OF THE 21st CENTURY
      (pp. 181-210)
      James R. Hosek

      Versatility and leadership top the requirements list for the soldier of the 21st century. The future may or may not threaten a major war, but it requires the ability to fight and win one, as well as to engage in a wide variety of smaller conflicts and other operations, such as peacekeeping. The range of demands and flow of new technology call for personnel who can learn rapidly, reach high levels of competence, adapt in the face of uncertainty, and apply a variety of skills in difficult circumstances.

      To obtain a versatile, well-led force, there must be a systematic approach...

    • Chapter Eight ADAPTING BEST COMMERCIAL PRACTICES TO DEFENSE
      (pp. 211-246)
      Frank Camm

      Over the last decade, the Department of Defense (DoD) has sought increasingly to transform its basic approach to warfighting and the methods it uses to support warfighters.² As part of this effort, leaders and influential observers of DoD have repeatedly encouraged DoD to emulate “best commercial practices” (BCPs)—the practices of commercial firms that have been recognized by their peers as being the best among firms engaged in similar activities. Over the past 20 years, many successful firms have found that BCPs offer an important new source of information for improving their competitive position. In particular, they have used information...

  11. Part III. New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking

    • INTRODUCTION TO PART III
      (pp. 248-254)

      RAND and other analysts have developed and refined a number of techniques for coping with uncertainty and making decisions that will have consequences over years, even generations. These techniques might be thought of in three broad categories: exercises, strategic products, and “groupware.”

      Drawing on earlier work in Europe, war-gaming for U.S. military planners was developed at the Naval War College in the late 19th century as a way of “getting into the minds” of potential military adversaries in order to develop and test alternative operational strategies.¹ In war games, the flow of events is affected by and, in turn, affects...

    • Chapter Nine EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR MODELING
      (pp. 255-284)
      Paul K. Davis

      The theme that runs through this book is that real-world strategy problems are typically beset with enormous uncertainties that should be central in assessing alternative courses of action. In the past, one excuse for downplaying uncertainty—perhaps treating it only through marginal sensitivity analysis around some “best-estimate” baseline of dubious validity—was the sheer difficulty of doing better. If analysis depended on the time it took to set up and run computer programs, then extensive uncertainty work was often ruled out. Today, however, extensive uncertainty analysis can be done with personal computers. Better software tools are needed, but existing commercial...

    • Chapter Ten USING EXPLORATORY MODELING
      (pp. 285-298)
      Daniel B. Fox

      This chapter examines a way to use combat modeling that both capitalizes on the strengths of combat models and helps analysts and decisionmakers gain new insights into complex problems.

      The chapter has three sections. The first of these describes the evolving defense environment, to show the need for tools that allow analysis of situations dominated by uncertainty. It also briefly discusses combat models in general and the Joint Integrated Contingency Model (JICM) in particular, covering some features of the JICM that make it especially suitable for exploratory modeling. Finally, the section compares conventional sensitivity analysis to exploratory modeling.

      The second...

    • Chapter Eleven ASSESSING MILITARY INFORMATION SYSTEMS
      (pp. 299-322)
      Stuart H. Starr

      The assessment of military information systems is an art form that has evolved substantially since the mid-1970s.¹ Until then, national security assessments generally neglected information system issues. Such systems were either assumed to be “perfect” (i.e., providing perfect information with no time delays), capable of no more than second- or third-order effects, or totally irrelevant. When they were considered, they were often treated as a “patch”—something introduced into force-on-force calculations to reflect imperfect information systems.

      This chapter begins with a historical perspective on how military information systems assessment evolved. It describes the change that took place 25 years ago,...

    • Chapter Twelve THE “DAY AFTER” METHODOLOGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYSIS
      (pp. 323-338)
      David Mussington

      The development of analytic tools to help those making national security policy is driven by the need for usable answers and the urgency of the threats facing the United States. The interaction of these two drivers has produced an array of approaches that favor insights derived from experience with international phenomena.After all, conducting empirically valid tests of means-ends relationships in international politics is all but impossible, so implicit models must substitute for hard-to-get experimental data.Most analysts resort to historical comparisons, reasoning via analogy, or conceptualizations that are mathematically rigorous but empirically dubious or even trivial. The “lessons of...

    • Chapter Thirteen USING ELECTRONIC MEETING SYSTEMS TO AID DEFENSE DECISIONS
      (pp. 339-360)
      Stuart E. Johnson

      Defense decisionmaking is inevitably collaborative because it involves a range of stakeholders. The challenge is to ensure that collaboration adds value instead of producing lowest-common-denominator results.

      Collaborative technologies help people develop a common perspective and make it possible to collaborate across time and space. Figure 13.1 is a matrix of collaboration, showing different combinations of time and space—from synchronous (same time, predictable) and colocated (same place) in the upper left, through asynchronous (unpredictable) and uncolocated (different place and unpredictable) in the bottom right. Illustrative collaborative tools and techniques are provided for each space-time combination.

      The potential of computer-mediated communications...

  12. AFTERWORD
    (pp. 361-362)

    This book reflects the reshaping of defense analysis that went on at RAND and elsewhere after Desert Storm and the fall of communism—i.e., the movement away from a focus on the awesome predictability of the Soviet threat toward contemplation of a world that had become, if less dangerous, surely more uncertain. In place of the Cold War’s one overriding potential foe, there were now numerous possible threats, so the Department of Defense (DoD) moved, haltingly, from single planning scenarios to planning for two major wars and, ultimately, to planning based not on threats or scenarios but on the capabilities...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 363-388)
  14. ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 389-390)