Accession Number:



Cutting Defense: Method Instead of Madness

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Among the detritus of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 can be discovered a provision establishing the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces. For the commission to have an impact it must distance itself from previous attempts to look at roles and missions along the traditional fractious lines of service components and showcase systems. It must find a way to evaluate military forces and capabilities within a common analytical frame of reference. Instead of comparing apples and oranges, it must compare apples and apples. One way to do this is by adopting a strategy-capabilities evaluation methodology. This methodology has a number of advantages that recommend it to the Commission on Roles and Missions and that could have a significant influence in debates over defense in general, and force reductions in particular. Using this methodology, the commission will have an unassailable analytic device with which to reach its recommendations. First, it takes a framework of proven worth in force planning and acquisition matters -- namely, strategy-to-tasks -- and adapts it to evaluate force structure. Second, it compares similar force capabilities -- not force elements -- among the services. Apples can finally be compared with apples. Lastly, the methodology lends itself to establishing analytically derived common evaluation criteria. Applying this methodology will do more than merely identify redundant force capabilities. It will also illuminate the unique contributions of each force to the battlefield and the flexibility of complementary capabilities. Where redundancies are identified, the commission might recommend eliminating some force elements associated with those capabilities or, alternatively, conclude that the operational tasks associated with the capabilities are crucial and justify a degree of redundancy.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: