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This paper speculates on the inherent limitations of traditional methods of systems analysis that neglect nonmilitary factors, and considers whether the structuring of such studies has contributed to policy failures. The paper asserts that the omission of broader political and social factors is an inherent limitation in military system studies; such self-imposed limitations are defensible in the attempt to deal (suboptimally) with a critical portion of the overall problem; the chief difficulties arise in the transition from these studies to decisionmaking; major system studies inevitably contain a number of implicit nontechnical assumptions; and using specialized studies without examining nontechnical factors leads to incomplete results and inadequate conclusions.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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