Military Planning Today

Calculus or Charade?

by Carl H. Builder

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The military planning calculus introduced in the mid-1960s still provides the structure for defense planning today. Built into that calculus is the idea that we start with our national objectives and the threats to those objectives, and proceed logically through the design of military forces to the bottom line--the presentation of the bill to the American public. Now, post-Cold War, the American public is expressing preferences about the size of the insurance policy it wants for national security. Defense planning, instead of toting up the bill to meet declared objectives and threats, may instead have to offer alternative military capabilities (and risks) over a range of prices. Among other suggestions, the author recommends giving explicit consideration to the judgments that inform defense planning, such as the availability of resources and the likelihood of various threats, and allowing the services to compete for funding.

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