New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking [NOOK Book]


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.
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New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833034106
  • Publisher: RAND Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/22/2003
  • Series: Rand Corporation Monograph Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 412
  • File size: 4 MB

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New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking

By Stuart E. Johnson Martin C. Libicki Gregory F. Treverton David S.C. Chu Nurith Berstein Bruce Bennett Paul K. Davis Harry J. Thie James Hosek Frank Camm Daniel B. Fox Stuart H. Starr

Rand Corporation

Copyright © 2003 Rand Corporation
All right reserved.

Chapter One

DECISIONMAKING FOR DEFENSE 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 with a short discussion of alternative approaches and styles before looking briefly to the future.

America's experiences may have lessons for others even if their circumstances dictate a different set of governance arrangements for defense decisionmaking. Equally important, the United States is now at a point in its history when it must reconsider-if only to reconfirm -its own governance structure. The Cold War that motivated so much of the U.S. defense establishment and shaped itsdecisionmaking mechanisms has been replaced with a much different set of security challenges. The technological assumptions on which so many of DoD's current choices rest also must be reconsidered. Thoughtful defense analysts argue that a "revolution in military affairs" (RMA) is, and should be, under way. In short, should the United States in the early 21st century continue to make defense decisions the way it did in the latter half of the 20th?


Every defense establishment faces a set of interrelated decisions that it must make and that its governance structure should be designed to confront:

What set of forces should the country maintain? How should forces be organized? Under what command structure?

What training should forces receive? How ready should they be, and for what?

With what equipment should forces be armed? In what condition should equipment be maintained?

What tempo of operation should forces be prepared to maintain? What stock of consumable items and spare parts should be stockpiled to support this tempo? What ongoing maintenance capability is needed to sustain this pace of operation?

These decisions govern what the defense establishment delivers, but they should be guided by the outcomes desired by the national leadership. For the past 25 years, DoD has translated these outcomes into scenarios against which U.S. military forces are measured. During the late Cold War, the planning scenario focused on global conflict with the Soviet Union (on two fronts, Europe and Southwest Asia). After the Cold War, this scenario was replaced by a requirement to conduct two nearly simultaneous major theater wars (MTWs) while also conducting operations other than war (e.g., peacekeeping in the Balkans). When pressed for specificity, DoD posited the two MTWs as being on the Korean peninsula and in Southwest Asia.

When the Cold War ended, DoD tried at one point to formulate a new structure in which to make decisions about U.S. military forces-forces would be judged not against specific scenarios but against a set of military capabilities the country should maintain. DoD wanted to move away from a single scenario; its military leadership was concerned that no single scenario would be compelling. The shortcoming of the capabilities approach, as articulated in testimony by then Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, was that it did not yield defensible, specific criteria against which to judge military forces. To define such specific criteria, DoD tried generic "illustrative planning scenarios." The lack of geographic specificity in these scenarios, however, when applied in the debate over the acquisition of the C-17, proved their undoing. DoD reverted to the concrete illustrations of conflict in the Persian Gulf and Korea, from which the notion of two nearly simultaneous MTWs eventually developed.


A notable feature of the American political landscape is the U.S. Congress's salient role in defense decisionmaking, which is spelled out plainly in the Constitution. In enumerating the powers of the Congress, Article I gives it the authority to declare war, to raise and support armies and provide and maintain a navy, and to establish rules for the governance of the military. Indeed, of the 18 congressional powers enumerated in Section 8 of Article I, five explicitly deal with the military.

The creation of a Secretary of Defense in 1947 reflected a balance between the prerogatives of the individual military services and President Truman's desire for a central executive to coordinate and rationalize their separate activities. The first secretary, James Forrestal, resigned after a largely unsuccessful struggle to orchestrate the activities of the National Military Establishment (as it was then called), frustrated by his limited powers as secretary. The 1949 amendment of the National Security Act addressed some of these limitations. It created the Department of Defense, subordinated the military departments to the secretary, and strengthened the staff supporting the secretary. Amendments enacted in 1958 further enhanced the secretary's role, thus paving the way for the far-reaching changes Robert McNamara imposed on the department. But DoD governance retains a tension between the centrifugal, competitive forces reflected in the responsibilities of the individual military departments (in whose well-being Congress takes a deep interest) and the centralizing responsibilities of the defense secretary.

There is a further division of authority within the military departments, the one between civilian political appointees and the uniformed military hierarchy. This split is reflected in the fact that the separate civilian secretariat reports to the secretary of the military department, whereas the uniformed staff reports to the chief of staff. Much of the statutory authority wielded by a military department is actually held by that department's secretary, even though the uniformed staff is much larger than the civilian secretariat and typically exercises de facto control of the day-to-day agenda.

The Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 changed the division of defense authority in three important ways. First, within the military departments, it strengthened the hand of the civilian service secretariats by formally subordinating the uniformed officers previously responsible for weapons acquisition and budget execution to their civilian counterparts rather than to the service chief of staff. For several decades, acquisition authority in the military departments had been divided between a civilian assistant secretary and a military deputy chief of staff assigned that function. Likewise, each military department had a military comptroller who reported through the chief of staff rather than to the civilian counterpart in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) responsible for financial matters. The Goldwater Nichols Act required that these military officers report to the civilian counterpart.

Second, Goldwater Nichols ratified the expanded authority of the commanders in chief of the unified and specified commands (CINCs), who, to the discomfit of the military departments, had been invited by Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1981 to play a significant role in DoD's resource allocation processes. Goldwater Nichols further reinforced the CINCs' authority by requiring that all military units be assigned to one of their commands. Moreover, the CINCs were explicitly made responsible for the preparedness of their commands to carry out assigned missions. These changes solidified the CINCs' role as "customers" of DoD and, especially, of the military departments. The Act also underscored the future importance of joint operations as the way U.S. forces would be employed in the field, and thus the way in which planning for them should be conducted, including planning undertaken by the military departments. One example of this increased emphasis on "jointness" is that the annual DoD budget proposals submitted to Congress include a separate item for joint exercises undertaken by the commands.

Third, Goldwater Nichols further empowered the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) and joint staff. In the years following World War II, that position had gradually evolved into one clearly seen as the nation's senior military officer. Although the chairman is not legally part of the chain of command-which runs directly from the president through the secretary of defense to the CINCs-his advice is often treated with the same deference as that of the defense secretary, especially by Congress. In these ways, the Goldwater Nichols Act strengthened the chairman's advisory role, causing considerable concern within the military departments that his responsibilities importantly infringe on what they believe should be their responsibilities.

The Act also produced, in combination with the distinctive events of the last 15 years, a new central actor, the joint staff, which is in tension with the military departments because of its perceived intrusion on their authority (reminiscent of that produced by the "whiz kids" of Secretary McNamara's staff in the 1960s).

Divided authority could be a formula for bureaucratic gridlock and inaction, with many having the right to say "no," but no element strong enough to see a program proposal through to approval and successful execution. One of the mechanisms that DoD has used in this circumstance, both to secure a wide circle of advice and to forge consensus on the best course of action, is the advisory board-i.e., a formal body that gives many if not all parties a "voice" in the process while allowing final decisionmaking authority to remain in the hands of the board's chair. The most powerful senior-level boards are

The Defense Resources Board (DRB), chaired by the deputy secretary of defense. Advises the deputy secretary on major resource allocation decisions.

The Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), chaired by the under secretary of defense for acquisition and technology (A&T). Advises the under secretary (A&T) on major acquisition programs and acquisition policies and procedures.

The Joint Requirements Oversight Council, chaired by the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff (who also serves as the vice chairman of the DAB). Validates mission needs developed by the CINCs and by planning elements of the joint staff, reviews performance parameters and requirements, and develops recommended joint priorities for those needs.

The Senior Readiness Oversight Council (SROC), chaired by the deputy secretary of defense. Advises the secretary of defense on readiness, oversees readiness-related actions, reports on relevant readiness questions, and coordinates DoD positions on readiness for outside audiences.

Each board was created by the direction of, or with support from, a particular secretary of defense, although succeeding secretaries have used and shaped them in accord with their styles. Thus, while the formal roles of these boards often change little over time, their real roles and authority respond to the style of each secretary, giving each secretary considerable latitude in how the department is managed.

Notably absent from this description of who makes decisions on defense issues is the U.S. president and his immediate staff. Designated by the Constitution as the commander-in-chief, the president could, in principle, take a detailed role in defense decisionmaking. The president and his staff typically do take an active role in formulating national security strategy, thus setting the basic course for the defense establishment, and the president usually makes the key operational decisions in times of crisis. But, otherwise, the American practice has been to leave most department managerial decisions to the defense secretary, although the president does set the budgetary constraint within which the department must live.

In the Kennedy administration, a concerted effort was made to involve the president early in key defense decisions. It was felt that securing the president's guidance early in the decisionmaking cycle would help the department formulate better policies. Draft presidential memoranda were prepared as vehicles for raising issues with the president. But when the first of these was presented to President Kennedy, he indicated that he was not prepared to make choices so early. The memoranda lived on for a period as a useful way to conduct policy debates within DoD, but they were never more than drafts and were never again sent to the president.


Budgets in bureaucracies are typically created one year at a time and are based disproportionately on expenditure patterns of the prior year. A group of analysts at RAND in the 1950s developed an alternative approach to budget preparation, one based on the idea that the proper way to begin was by setting long-term objectives. Codified under the cumbersome title Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS), Robert McNamara brought the ideas behind this approach to the Pentagon in the 1960s when he hired Charles Hitch as comptroller from his prior post as head of RAND's Economics Department.

The planning phase of the PPBS sets long-term goals. The secretary of defense announces objectives for the department in what is now called the Defense Planning Guidance. The Guidance is ultimately the secretary's document, although his own staff, the military departments, and the chairman and his staff all participate, reflecting the multiple centers of authority within the department. The document includes a variety of ways to measure progress toward the secretary's goals, including a set of illustrative scenarios describing the military events the secretary believes should guide key decisions of the department.

As administered since the late 1960s, the programming stage of the PPBS consists of the three military departments preparing a set of fiscally constrained proposals to meet the secretary's goals. These program objectives memoranda, or POMs, extend six years into the future. The secretary's office reviews the POMs to ensure they conform with the guidance provided by the secretary in the planning phase. Changes are made as required. Although the programming phase is a debate about means-which program choices best achieve the stated goals-it often reopens the debate about those goals, revisiting choices made in the planning phase.

Once decisions about the six-year program are made, the material in the POMs is consolidated into the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP), and the department is then ready to formulate its budget for the next fiscal period. The department's constituent elements prepare budget estimate submissions based on the program decisions, reflecting latest pricing and execution experience. These are reviewed by the secretary's office, in a joint process with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and consolidated in the president's budget request.

The sharing of authority in PPBS reflects the reality of DoD's divided authority. It gives each element of DoD (most especially the military departments) a chance to fashion its future course within the parameters set by the secretary of defense and subject to his review and final decision. But the parameters are debated with the many elements before they are set, and the reviews of both the program and the budget include the affected parties, which are allowed wide latitude to argue their cases before the secretary makes final decisions.


Excerpted from New Challenges, New Tools for Defense Decisionmaking by Stuart E. Johnson Martin C. Libicki Gregory F. Treverton David S.C. Chu Nurith Berstein Bruce Bennett Paul K. Davis Harry J. Thie James Hosek Frank Camm Daniel B. Fox Stuart H. Starr Copyright © 2003 by Rand Corporation. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Decisionmaking for Defense 13
Ch. 2 Responding to Asymmetric Threats 33
Ch. 3 What Information Architecture for Defense? 67
Ch. 4 Incorporating Information Technology in Defense Planning 103
Ch. 5 Uncertainty-Sensitive Planning 131
Ch. 6 Planning the Future Military Workforce 157
Ch. 7 The Soldier of the 21st Century 181
Ch. 8 Adapting Best Commercial Practices to Defense 211
Ch. 9 Exploratory Analysis and Implications for Modeling 255
Ch. 10 Using Exploratory Modeling 285
Ch. 11 Assessing Military Information Systems 299
Ch. 12 The "Day After" Methodology and National Security Analysis 323
Ch. 13 Using Electronic Meeting Systems to Aid Defense Decisions 339
Afterword 361
Index 363
About the Authors 389
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