Modeling of Soft Factors in the RAND Strategy Assessment System (RSAS)

by Paul K. Davis


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Reflecting "soft factors" (defined as factors not yet reflected explicitly in analysis, and not yet well understood) has been a major goal since the RAND Strategy Assessment System (RSAS) was designed in 1982. This paper discusses how selected soft factors have been and could be represented in combat models, theater-level decision models dealing with command-control issues, and national-command-level models dealing with issues of national policy, strategy, and controls. The paper also discusses the (limited) empirical basis for the assumptions used and speculates about the degree to which the empirical and subjective bases could be improved. Finally, it notes several recent examples of policy-level analysis that have been strongly affected by assumptions about soft factors involving human and organizational issues — notably factors involving readiness, surprise, national fighting quality, the break-point phenomenon, and command-control adaptability.

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