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Research Synopsis

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Research Questions

  1. How can the Army estimate the costs associated with the force structures required to execute various defense strategies?
  2. How can the estimation method proposed by the authors aid defense decisionmakers?

Because assessments of alternative national defense strategies depend in part on estimates of their costs, it is important to be able to develop relatively accurate, first-order estimates. Current cost estimation processes take months to generate results and require considerable resources to execute. This report presents a new, rapid method of estimating changes in Army resource needs and allocation as a function of alternative national defense strategies. Because the new method, called the Strategic Investment Analysis Protocol, is rapid, its use allows analysts and decisionmakers to compare the resource implications of alternative strategies. To illustrate the approach, the authors estimate the costs of three alternative strategies in terms of the Army's budget structure. They also examine how various appropriations have responded in the past to changes in strategy. Relatively accurate, first-order estimates of resource implications should inform the development and selection of defense strategies and the Army investment options that support those strategies.

Key Findings

The Strategic Investment Analysis Protocol (SIAP) can be used to estimate the resource implications for the Army of changes in national defense strategy.

  • SIAP estimates costs for both the operational Army and the generating Army.
  • SIAP cost estimates include support and sustainment forces.
  • SIAP can be used to assess the degree to which Army investment options are robust across alternative defense strategies.

The authors estimate the costs of three alternative defense strategies to illustrate SIAP.

  • The Direct Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy approximates the strategy that was current at the time of this study. Maintaining an Army to support this strategy over a 20-year period would cost over $3.2 trillion.
  • The Build Local Defend Global strategy assumes that the primary threats to the United States arise from instability and that the United States can mitigate these threats by developing partners' capabilities for governance. Maintaining an Army to support this strategy would cost approximately $2.2 trillion over the same period.
  • The Rising Peer strategy assumes that only a major peer or near-peer competitor, such as China, can threaten the security of the United States. The Army supporting this strategy would also cost about $2.2 trillion.

SIAP provides Defense Department and Army leaders with the means to assess the costs of alternative strategies before they select one.

  • SIAP can provide relatively accurate, first-order estimates of the resource implications for the Army of alternative defense strategies.
  • It can give senior leaders more precise guidance with which to initiate the force management requirements process.
  • Because SIAP trades precision and accuracy for responsiveness, it cannot substitute for ordinary planning and budgeting processes in providing a detailed and specific analysis of what is actually needed to implement a particular strategy.

Recommendations

  • The Army should use relatively accurate, first-order estimates of resource implications to inform the development and selection of defense strategies and the Army investment options that support those strategies.
  • The Army should adopt SIAP as a cost estimation method.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Developing Alternative Strategies to Support Analysis

  • Chapter Three

    Estimating Operational Army Costs

  • Chapter Four

    Estimating Generating Force Costs

  • Chapter Five

    Assessing Investment Options' Effectiveness

  • Chapter Six

    Summary and Conclusions: Responsive Analysis to Inform Initial Strategic Guidance

  • Appendix A

    Alternative Strategies

  • Appendix B

    Alternative Force Structures

  • Appendix C

    Alignment of Army Budget Appropriations and SAGs with Generating Force Core Processes

  • Appendix D

    Budget Data Used in Model Development

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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