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Research Questions

  1. How can analysis be more useful to policymakers than it has been in the past?
  2. How can planning cope effectively with deep uncertainty and disagreement?

Defense analysis can do a better job supporting policymakers dealing with multiple objectives and deep uncertainties. This will involve seeing through the fog with simple analysis and undergirding results with depth as necessary. It will emphasize balancing across objectives and hedging against both uncertainty and disagreement among policymakers. Modern methods for doing so are available but they require displacing some familiar processes and demanding more from analysis. Once decisions are made, analysis should help policymakers explain, convince, and shape implementation guidance with sharpened requirements, forcing functions, and metrics for monitoring, feedback, and adaptation.


  • Analysts should plan an "analysis campaign" with core themes of dealing with multiple objectives and confronting both deep uncertainties and disagreements.
  • Options considered should be designed creatively and assessed for flexibility, adaptiveness, and robustness (FARness) while working within fiscal limitations.
  • Assessing FARness should be part of the analyst's ethic and will go well beyond stating assumptions.
  • The campaign should include a mix of relatively simple and more complex models, human gaming, historical and trend analysis, and collaboration with experienced operators. It should consider creative option development.
  • Capabilities should be evaluated with a spanning set of test-case scenarios, rather than any single scenario. Multiple tests are needed even for a specific threat and more are needed to address the diversity of challenges. The test cases should be analytically developed to represent what policymakers intend and can afford. Using the test set should assure that subsequent planning throughout the organization will provide the desired capabilities and requisite flexibility, adaptiveness, and robustness.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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