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Military Planning Today: Calculus or Charade?

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The military planning calculus introduced in the mid-1960s still provides the structure for defense planning today, even though the Cold War is over. Built into that calculus is the idea that we start with out national objectives, the threats to those objectives, and proceed logically through the design of the needed military forces to the bottom line-the presentation of the bill to be paid by the American public. However appropriate that calculus may have been at the height of the Cold War, when the nations very survival appeared to be on the line, it is no longer. The American public shows signs of wanting to express its preferences for national security, given the many competing claims for the borrowed money in its purse. Defense planning, instead of toting up the bill to meet declared objectives and threats, may instead have to offer alternative military capabilities and risks over a range of prices, just as competing suppliers of goods and services do in their markets. Now, the structure of the calculus is unraveling. We can no longer credibly peg the objectives and threats where they will support the bills we would like to present. The longer we hang on to calculus, as a comforting vestige of the Cold War, the more we risk the credibility of defense planning. In the buyers market for national security now emerging, we must offer products forces and capabilities at competitive prices-competitive between the suppliers the services and competitive with the other societal demands on the public purse

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Administration and Management
  • Defense Systems
  • Operations Research

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