Book Excerpt from “Resourcing the National Security Enterprise” (Chapter 9)

In chapter 9, “Resourcing Military Readiness,” Laura Junor Pulzone gives an in-depth look at military readiness, showing the complex factors that influence this readiness and the ways the Department of Defense assesses it. Maintaining ready forces, Junor Pulzone writes, proves challenging both because the complexity of the mechanisms undergirding ready military capability and because choices made in this context are “rife with uncertainty and risk.” Below, Junor Pulzone discusses the analytic framework she uses to further understanding of military readiness:

The analytic framework described here is straightforward and involves two basic steps: understand how the supply of ready forces is produced and then evaluate the available quantity of ready military capabilities supplied against the quantity of those forces demanded. The quantity supplied refers to how many ready military capabilities (from dog teams to long-range strike sorties to carrier battle group presence) the military services can produce. The demand refers to the planned and unplanned requirements for those capabilities. A readiness deficiency exists when the Department of Defense cannot generate the ready capabilities for these discrete requirements.

While the concept of this framework is simple, assessing the hundreds of production processes that underlie it is a challenge. That said, these production processes are well-understood ones that are already monitored and frequently quantified using detailed data from transactional databases. For most demand scenarios, the planners either have or can estimate the quantity of forces demanded throughout the course of a given operation. In other words, the infrastructure to understand these processes already exists. The Department of Defense has a surprising amount of data, some of which is extraordinarily detailed and cataloged and if arranged and assessed properly, can yield a lot of information.

In order to gain a clear picture of the problem, it is useful to map out the production processes. Consider the old proverb “for the want of a nail.” The idea here is that if people understand the process and dependencies in readiness production, they can protect the kingdom from being lost due to a seemingly innocuous problem like a missing horseshoe nail. Simply laying out the production flows highlights process vulnerabilities, critical dependencies, and throughput constraints, even without amplifying data and advanced statistical methods. For a position like a fighter pilot, the production process looks like convincing smart, healthy young people to choose the military as a career, then giving them years of education and highly technical training in various aircraft with different weapons systems and using varying training ranges and simulators until they are proficient and deployable.”

Resourcing the National Security Enterprise: Connecting the Ends and Means of US National Security by Susan Bryant and Mark Troutman is available in hardcover, paperback, and digital editions. It is part of the Cambria Rapid Communications in Conflict and Security (RCCS) Series (General Editor: Dr. Geoffrey R.H. Burn).

Laura Junor Pulzone is the Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. She holds a PhD in economics from George Mason University. Dr. Pulzone has written and testified on topics ranging from military readiness to civilian personnel policy. She has held various executive leadership titles including the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.