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Research Questions

  1. Which units report readiness data, and what information is reported?
  2. Who gathers, analyzes, and communicates readiness?
  3. Where is readiness reported and utilized—in what venues, and to whom?
  4. How are systems, tools, frameworks, and other constructs used to report, analyze, understand, and communicate readiness?
  5. What currently makes readiness data less accurate or useful than it could be?
  6. How can readiness and its reporting be improved in the USSF?

As a branch of the U.S. armed services, the U.S. Space Force (USSF) must understand, manage, and report its readiness. The readiness-related systems of the U.S. Department of Defense, like many systems that support and govern the USSF, were not designed to meet the unique demands of the military space community and characteristics of operations in and through outer space. The newly independent USSF has an opportunity to create systems that work better meet their needs. The authors of this report have created a readiness framework for the USSF and a guide on how to implement it.

Starting with a "blank slate" mandate and a review of the readiness practice of the other services, the authors studied the current readiness system for the USSF and considered the unique needs of the military space community. They found that the current readiness reporting system does not address the range of USSF needs and has failed to objectively report the readiness of the space forces. They recommend a readiness framework that measures the USSF's ability to keep pace with adversary threats. It proposes three distinct "views" of readiness: (1) given today's resources, (2) against the near-peer threat, and (3) progress in transforming to meet the near-peer threat.

Key Findings

  • The USSF has unique organizational, operational, and technological characteristics that affect how its readiness should be understood and reported.
  • While it is mandatory for the Defense Readiness Reporting System – Strategic (DRRS-S) to be used for reporting to the U.S. Congress, other U.S. military services have created frameworks to augment DRRS-S and meet its internal needs.
  • The USSF's highest-priority need for a readiness framework is one that can measure readiness against the full range of threats, including its ability to evolve to confront those threats. This includes elements of organizational and mission design.
  • Heritage measures of readiness, and the enterprise systems that support them, focus on today's organize, train, and equip posture and are not suited to measuring an evolving force.
  • Current reporting systems cannot provide objective measures of the risks of unfunded requirements, unrealized capability development, and incomplete reorganizations.
  • Sources of readiness data, inherited from the U.S. Air Force, spoil readiness information because critical resources are not included, classified information is often not supported, and organizational dependencies in the USSF are not captured.
  • Units are being asked to report too much (including readiness against the range of emerging threats) given the capabilities of the reporting systems.
  • Commander remarks contain much of the critical readiness information, but that information is often not readily actionable.

Recommendations

  • Adopt a readiness framework that augments DRRS-S and measures readiness against a complete range of threats through use of three distinct views of readiness: 1) readiness given today's resources measures unit readiness considering currently authorized resources and expected capabilities, 2) readiness based on needed capabilities measures unit readiness considering resources and capabilities needed to be ready against the full range of identified threats, and 3) readiness based on the pace of transformation measures the USSF's ability to change and adapt to new threats.
  • Improve readiness reporting given today's resources by correcting errors and omissions in readiness data sources and focusing DRRS-S data on this view of readiness.
  • Improve the reporting of readiness based on needed capabilities by publishing guidance, identifying reporting requirements, and creating a data repository for this view of readiness.
  • Implement reporting on the pace of transformation by establishing measures and reporting responsibilities.
  • Manage the USSF's processes to increase the pace of USSF transformation using the readiness reporting information.
  • Redefine authoritative data sources to better match the security needs of the space community, capture all critical equipment, and better represent the interdependencies of space systems and organizations.
  • Implement USSF force presentation models, when prepared, in personnel readiness reporting.
  • Capture readiness of supporting units (e.g., engineering, security, etc.) as part of Delta-level assessments.

Research conducted by

The research reported here was sponsored by the Director of Space and Cyber Operations, Headquarters Space Operations Command, and conducted within the Force Modernization and Employment Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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