Defense Planning When Major Changes Are Needed

Published in: Defence Studies, Volume 18, Issue 3 (2018), Pages 374-390. doi: 10.1080/14702436.2018.1497444

Posted on RAND.org on October 23, 2018

by Paul K. Davis

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The principles and formalities of modern U.S. Defence planning stem from the 1960s and have largely served well. This paper, however, is about the special challenges that arise when major changes have been needed, some even transformational in character. It discusses how changing realities, independent studies and analysis, events, leaders, and political processes have led to changes not easily instigated within normal processes. Several examples are discussed for the period 1976–2016. Today, the United States and allies again face major challenges that require major military changes. Those have not yet been decided, much less accomplished. The paper draws on lessons from earlier periods to identify obstacles to and mechanisms for change. The last section focuses on defence analysis, which has sometimes been an obstacle but can be part of the solution. The paper urges a new ethic for analysis and the analysts who perform it.

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