Posts Tagged ‘ForceStructure’

Force Structure: Actions Needed to Improve DOD’s Ability To Manage, Assess, and Report on Global Defense Posture Initiatives

Government Accountability Office, 02 July 2009. Hosted on the Inside Defense Website.

It’s time to scrutinize the Pentagon

Charles Knight, Carl Conetta, and James P. McGovern. Minuteman Media, 1 January 2009.


Any adjustment in national security planning is bound to be controversial – and it should be. But we can no longer afford to shy away from that controversy. Our current circumstance demands that we enter into a broad and deep discussion about national strategic priorities, including security priorities. And this necessarily entails looking behind the curtain that shields the defense budget from more serious scrutiny.

Analytical Tools for the Next Quadrennial Defense Review

Christopher Wright, National Security Studies Fellow, Johns Hopkins University. Security Studies Program Seminar, MIT, 29 October 2008.

Seminar Summary – Rapporteur: Miranda Priebe


Why do we conduct a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR)?

* There is a long history of top level strategy reviews at the Presidential level with a government wide survey of defense and security issues even before the current QDR process began.
* The QDR came out of the recommendations of the Commission on Roles and Missions (run by John White in the 1990s).
* Established by congressional action in 1996.
* The process has devolved more toward programming weapon acquisitions rather than strategy setting now.
* The notion behind the QDR is to make choices within limited resources. However, since it is hard to make these tough tradeoffs decision-makers often postpone decisions.
* Questions to consider:
o What is a capability? Difficult question to determine the metrics to use.
o What is the tradespace? How do we select the right mix of capabilities and risks?
o How often should the QDR be done? There is a cost to doing these reviews.

Congressional Direction for the QDR

* The purpose is to delineate a national defense strategy consistent with the most recent National Security Strategy with a low to moderate level of risk.
* DoD is asked to lean forward and not to be bashful in outlining what it thinks it needs.

National Defense Strategy Reviews

* Who is in charge of National Security? The history starts with NSSM-3 during the Nixon Administration which was NSC staff-directed. Many of the NSC staffers had worked in DoD’s Systems Analysis office so believed that they understood military capabilities.
* NSSM-246 and NSSD 1-82 were ephemeral at best. The Reagan document was completely done by the NSC staff and completed after a massive defense budget increase had been put forward the prior year (strategy after the fact).
* Base Force Review – a different type of document completed by the Joint Staff that was not DOD-wide and did not include the interagency involvement and options review typical of a “QDR”.
* Recent reviews—tasked by the Congress—have been directed by the DoD. The Congress has a requirement for an unclassified report. Also an associated GAO report includes discussion of analytical methods which are not provided by DOD in its own report.
* The amount of time each report takes to produce varies and depends in part on how much work has been done before the process starts:
o NSSM-3 – facilitated by a major “pilot study” produced beforehand.
o Bottom-up Review (BUR) – Joint Staff had a major study underway which became critical to the BUR decisions.
o PRM-10 – Current capability assessment was unique. We typically choose only to look at the longer-term future rather than also at where we are today.

What comes out? Do they matter?

* Generally emerge with some theme or slogan. Which helps people understand the concepts more readily.
* Sometimes make specific force structure changes and programmatic decisions on weapon acquisitions.
* NSSM-3
o Originally designed to investigate the pros and cons of shfting funds between defense and other parts of the budget.
o Interagency working group was created to make these tradeoffs, but didn’t do it.
* PRM-10 – Alternative Integrated Military Strategies (AIMS) – From liberate Eastern Europe to less ambitious goals for the degree of NATO security.
o Degree of uncertainty was greater within a strategy than in the difference in budget size between strategies.
* The idea behind Les Aspin’s BUR was to use specific scenarios to size the force. This was the apex of scenario based analysis in the DOD. The idea was to have forces for two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts. The Joint Staff presented different force sizes for different levels of risk and expenditure. Aspin liked it and agreed to their so-called “Option B” that involved some force reduction.
* QDR 1997 – The organization to accomplish the review had 40 working groups and 7 panels. These then had to go through four decision making levels. This didn’t work too well – too big and complex.
* QDR 2001 – At the end of Aug 2001, the document went to the services and then Sept 11th made the whole effort moot.
* QDR 2005-2006 – Shifting the weight from past threats to new threats.

Analytic methods

* 1970s to 1990s –
o Attrition mindset so models like TACWAR for campaign level simulation were used.
o One on one weapons comparisons also employed.
o Other capacity indices like the strategic lift measured in Ton-Miles.
o Military commander judgments to balance quantitative metrics.
o Often focused on inputs rather than outputs.
* 1990s-2000
o Capabilities Based Planning – Replaced scenario based planning. Think that we can’t predict the specific scenarios that will happen. We need to look at a wide range of possibilities.
o Capability Portfolio Management – Delegates to some senior leader the ability to make decisions within that portfolio (like Joint Battlespace Awareness, Joint C2, etc). The argument is that there needed to create proponency for these specialized joint-service capabilities.
o SecDef Gates, reflecting on our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, recently said to be skeptical of systems analysis models in estimating defense needs.
o Military operations research society website has valuable discussions about the tools available. Some commentary found here considered that analysis is failing to help decision-makers make the tradeoffs they need to make.
* Size of the US defense budget reflects our ambitious goals. The US wants to be able to deploy to the other side of the world. No one else tries to conduct operations like that. We want to do it with excellent logistics support and with as few casualties and little collateral damage as possible. Also want an all volunteer force, which is very expensive.
o Top line funding trends look to reflect global events, like the end of the Cold War, rather than any direction from QDRs.

Suggestions for a future QDR

* Need to start with a current capabilities assessment.
* Study the past operational experiences. What lessons do we have about what worked and what didn’t work.
* Geographic representation of where capabilities are.
* Line up multiple models with the same problems to see where they disagree. Also try doing it at different levels of analysis.
* Need new methods for understanding irregular warfare.
* Keep options simple.
* Associate options with expected risk.
* Think more about the trades between different forms of security.
* The QDR is demanded before many senior leaders may be in place.
* Should try doing it less often.
* Problems are not just military problems. Need more capable central staff (like CBO, NSC, etc) who can help to address these problems.


* Personalities in NSC staff to drive the nature of the early reviews. Now, Congressional edicts mandating the type of product attempts to change this, stating lengthy descriptions of study requirements.
* Resources for Defense are going to come under new scrutiny. There will have to be a new FYDP [Future Years Defense Program] since there is not one now. There may be budget edicts given that the strategy will have to conform to.
* Does increasing use of supplementals reflect a problem with the QDR? During Vietnam, did reach a little into the base budget. Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch were funded with supplemental money and then converted to on budget. Admiral Mullen has said we should move away from these supplementals. This is a presidential decision to be made. When something goes into long-term practice, you change training and support establishment. Maybe we don’t want to do that – to institutionalize certain spending in the long term. Certain benefit to having the cost of the war visible. When it becomes part of the base budget, harder to see.
* Some specific non-war costs in the supplementals turned out to be embarrassing in really obvious cases (JSF). There should be more rigor on keeping only war costs in the supplemental.
* Which models are more/less susceptible to political manipulation? You can make any tool do whatever you want once you understand the source of change within a tool. You can load assumptions that give you whatever you want. But, they do help us think about many things changing at once. It helps to use more than one tool at a time. Nothing is more naturally “honest” than another. Some are more expensive than others to run. But, you still need the tools.
* 2001 QDR – Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld introduced the idea of managing risk. Rumsfeld argued that some risk will always be there and you have to decide where to accept more/less risk.

A Grand Strategy of Restraint and Renewal

Barry R. Posen. testimony before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 15 July 2008.


The United States is a powerful country. Nevertheless, it is not as powerful as the foreign policy establishment believes. Political, military, and economic costs are mounting from U.S. actions abroad. At the same time, the U.S. has paid too little attention to problems at home. Over the last decade Americans became accustomed to a
standard of living that could only be financed on borrowed money. U.S. foreign policy elites have become accustomed to an activist grand strategy that they have increasingly funded on borrowed money as well. The days of easy money are over. During these years, the U.S. failed to make critical investments in infrastructure and human capital. The U.S. is destined for a period of belt tightening; it must raise taxes and cut spending. The quantities involved seem so massive that it is difficult to see how DOD can escape being at least one of the bill payers. We should seize this opportunity to re-conceptualize U.S. grand strategy from top to bottom.

Perspectives on the Analysis Modeling & Simulation Community

Jim Stevens. DoD M&S Conference Presentation, 10 March 2008 (PowerPoint presentation).

The Case for Restraint

Barry Posen. The American Interest online, Nov-Dec 2007.


Iraq should therefore be seen not as a singular debacle, but as a harbinger of costs to come. There is enough capacity and motivation out in the world to increase significantly the costs of any U.S. effort to manage global politics directly. Public support for this policy may wane before profligacy so diminishes U.S. power that it becomes unsustainable.

Toward a Sustainable US Defense Posture: The recent evolution of US air attack capabilities

Carl Conetta. Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #42, 02 August 2007.

At the time of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, less than 8 percent of America’s combat aircraft – USAF, USN, and USMC – had the ability to deliver guided weapons autonomously. Since then, this capability has generalized throughout the combat air fleets, including large bombers. (The capacity of America’s fleet of 97 mission-authorized bombers to precision munitions makes it, in this regard, the equivalent of more than 7 wings of tactical aircraft.)

Although the Government Accountability Office (among others) have challenged the most ambitious claims made for precision-guided munitions (PGMs), a non-controversial conclusion is that they allow a five- to eight-fold reduction in bomb expenditure to achieve a target effect similar to that achieved by the best non-guided methods. (The advantage may be somewhat less for area targets.) Also contributing to increased combat capability since 1991 has been the generalization of night-fighting and all-weather capabilities throughout the combat air fleets and significant improvements in target acquisition and data fusion and sharing.

In light of the advances in US air attack capability, it is not surprising that the 2003 Iraq war involved only one-third as many combat aircraft sorties as its predecessor and less than nine percent as many air-delivered munitions. Notably: the proportion of air-delivered munitions that were precision-guided grew from 8 percent to 68 percent. The number of fighters and bombers deployed by the United States declined from approximately 1,100 for the 1991 Gulf War to 655 for the 2003 war. And deployed aircraft were worked much harder in 1991 than in 2003: about 1.3 sorties per day per plane versus 0.9.

Looking forward to 2010, the advances in US guided-weapon attack capability will continue as the combat air fleets add all-weather munitions of substantially longer range, smaller size, and greater accuracy with more numerous and “smarter” submunitions. Over the next five years we will see the introduction of (or more general use of) extended-range, jam-resistant JDAMs, the Sensor Fused Weapon, the Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missiles, and the Low-Cost Autonomous Attack System. Perhaps most significant is the introduction of the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) which, as noted by Defense Industry Daily, will “dramatically increase the strike capability of every combat aircraft in the US inventory.” Indeed, theoretically, the SDB will increase the PGM carrying capacity of America’s combat air fleets five-fold – from 8,000 weapons to 40,000.

In 2010, America’s combat aircraft will possess twenty times the interdiction capability — on average and unit for unit, as their 1990 counterparts. Currently planned US air forces will be smaller, however – resulting in an aggregate capability somewhat less than 15 times greater than in 1990.

By comparison, traditional conventional adversaries have not nearly kept pace with US developments. Already in 1997, the Defense Intelligence Agency had noted a 20 percent reduction in armor threats. More generally: the United States moved from spending only 80 percent as much on defense as its potential adversaries did in 1985 to spending 250 percent as much in 2001. Since then the gap has widened further. Today the United States accounts for more than 60 percent of all military modernization spending worldwide, while Russia and China, for instance, together account for less than ten percent.

The dramatic growth in the capability of US combat aircraft does not imply that a commensurate reduction in fleet size is advisable, however. Quantity of platforms remains an important factor in that flexibility increases with the size of air fleets and risk declines. The United States would not want to put its “eggs” in too few baskets. Still, some significant reduction from the presently planned fleet size is possible.

How much is enough? We can gain some insight from America’s recent wars. During the past 15 years, the United States deployed air armada’s of various sizes to fight its wars: 1,100 combat aircraft in 1991; 300 for Operation Allied Force (plus 200 allied); approximately 250 for Operation Enduring Freedom; and 655 for the main combat phase of Operation Enduring Freedom. The average number of combat sorties flown each day varied widely: 1,400 for Desert Storm, 140 for Allied Force, 82 per day for the first 78 days of Enduring Freedom, and 700 for Iraqi Freedom.

Given current capabilities and those new ones now emerging and being introduced, the United States might handle comparable contingencies with combat air packages comprising 200 to 500 fighters and bombers. With a future all-service force of 1,920 mission-assigned fighters and bombers, the United States could surge as many as 1,250 combat aircraft at one time – a sufficient number to handle multiple war and deterrence tasks.

Toward a Sustainable US Defense Posture: Rethinking the demand for aircraft carriers

Carl Conetta. Project on Defense Alternatives Briefing Memo #42, 02 August 2007.

Among US air power assets those that are carrier-based have a special role. Where access to land bases is limited, aircraft carriers can bring tactical air power within reach of enemy bastions. Together with other sea-based strike assets and long-range bombers, carriers can help overcome the anti-access challenge. But this fact should not exclude them from consideration for reduction. In fact, the United States has more of this asset than it reasonably requires. And, it is important to remember that sea-based air power is relatively vulnerable and expensive. Indeed, sortie for sortie, it costs more than twice as much as land-based tactical air – all things considered.

America’s requirement for big-deck aircraft carriers can be divided into a “surge” requirement for crisis response and a peacetime requirement for continuous forward presence. Relevant to the surge requirement is the actual experience of recent wars. Three or four aircraft carriers were directly engaged in Afghan operations at any one time during October-December 2001. During the first phase of the 2003 Iraq war, four or five were engaged. During the 1999 Kosovo war, one.

In none of these wars were the engaged carriers employed to their fullest, however. For instance, during the first month of Operation Iraqi Freedom, naval fighters flew an average of 0.8 sorties per day. They are capable of flying two, at least – and the Navy claims they can do more, in a pinch. Looking to the future: The target attack capability of each air wing will increase significantly with the addition of smaller, longer-range, and more accurate PGMs. In 2005 Senate testimony, then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vernon Clark, asserted that the number of targets that a carrier air wing could attack per day would increase from 700 to more than 1,000 by 2010 – having already risen substantially from 200 in 1997. Implicit in this is the option to reduce the overall number of carriers and wings.

In its FY 2007 budget, the Navy asserts that, given an 11 carrier fleet, it can surge six carriers for war within 30 days and another within the next 60 days. This, as a result of its new Fleet Response Plan (FRP). This implies an emergency or “surge” utilization rate of 63 percent. A somewhat higher rate could be achieved through changes in homeporting arrangements, rotations of crews, further reorganization of maintenance schedules, and reduced utilization of carriers for simple presence missions. Some reform along these lines would allow a 9-carrier, 8-wing fleet to surge “five plus one” for crisis response. In 2010, these six carriers, fully utilized and equipped with weapons now being fielded or procured, should be able to strike well over twice as many targets per day as the five that deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Supplementing the future offshore strike capability of US carriers would be the long-range attack capability of America’s bomber force – able in the future to carry five times as many PGMs as today (on average). Also supplementing carrier power would be the rest of the Navy’s surface fleet and the four Trident submarines that have been reconfigured for conventional missions. The surface fleet is equipped with approximately 8,000 Vertical Launch Systems, which can fire Tomahawk missiles – as can the Tridents. The Navy is building its stock of conventional land-attack Tomahawks up towards a total of 6,000 or so. (Approximately 800 were used in Operation Iraqi Freedom.) Finally, the Navy will have mini-carriers to call on as well, once the new class of LHA(R) amphibious assault ships are commissioned. Among other aircraft, these will carry 20 F-35s.
With only eight active and one reserve big-deck carriers in the fleet, the Navy would not be able to keep more than 2.5 of them continuously “on station” during peacetime – even given recent FRP innovations. However, homeporting one more overseas would increase this number, as would a crew rotation scheme. At any rate, peacetime naval presence abroad need not center on aircraft carriers. This much is recognized in the Navy’s new Global Concept of Operations, which allows for greater flexibility in assembling naval groups. Today, these include not only Carrier Battle Groups but also Expeditionary Strike Groups (built around amphibious assault ships), Surface Strike Groups (built around surface combatants), and independent operations by the Trident cruise-missile subs. These smaller, more varied, and more numerous groups allow for greater flexibility and more thorough coverage.