Game-Structured Analysis as a Framework for Defense Planning

by Paul K. Davis


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The debate about NATO's defense options has changed little in more than twenty years, with even less convergence of views. This nonconvergence has its principal origins in politics, economics, and the sociology of democracies, but the problem has been exacerbated by the absence of a coherent analytic framework within which to force issues toward resolution. The environment is now changing and the prospect exists for a more enlightened approach that would regularly bring together military officers, historians, technologists, and quantitative analysts. The improved environment includes increased interest in analytic realism, operational relevance, combined-arms planning, and in actually solving military problems. It is the major thesis of this paper that defense planning in this new environment should increasingly make use of conceptual structures akin to global political-military war gaming. To do this, quantitatively inclined analysts must make their models more relevant to the issues being debated by strategists. Their models must be strategic in perspective, flexible, transparent, and interactive. This paper describes recent progress on many of these issues in the RAND Strategy Assessment Center and proposes a cross-national cross-cultural effort to develop an improved analytic framework that could be used throughout the NATO community.

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