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Attribute Tradeoff Model (ATOM), Model and Software Documentation


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Given New Start, the Administrations interest in nuclear zero and a budget-constrained environment, analysts are likely to receive greater numbers of requests for comparison of the capacity of various force postures and structures to achieve nuclear policy goals. At present, no theoretically grounded and systematic method exists for comparing how well specific (attribute based)force postures support specific policy objectives. In the nuclear context, the central policy objectives identified by the Concepts and Analysis of Nuclear Strategy CANS project 1 are strategic stability, counter proliferation, deterrence, assurance and defeat. ATOM relies on an assessment process that first analyzes a problem structure from complex concepts to more basic and directly measurable elements and then synthesizes the evaluation of those basic elements through the structure so that alternatives may be assessed not only on the basics, but on the high-order concepts as well. The first challenge raised by this task is determining how to link discrete and measurable force posture attributes (such as flexibility, sustainability and reach) to such broad concepts as deterrence and counter proliferation in a systematic and meaningful way. ATOM achieves this by creating a theoretical model that decomposes these high-level policy objectives into their basic elements, and then links individual force posture attributes to these specific elements (see Figure 1). The theoretical model draws on an extensive academic and policy literature to determine the set of elements for specific policy objectives. The ATOM software is composed of two parts: Java-based Structure Authoring Tool that provides users a graphical interface for decomposing the problem space and; An R-based Decision Support Engine (DSE) at aggregates the assessment of force posture alternatives through to policy objectives, cost and risk. In essence the software takes the model and represents it graphically.



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