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From National Security Affairs
Jan. 25, 2013

The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) National Security Affairs (NSA) department held its second practitioner lecture on Jan. 25, 2013, for the senior National Decision Making (NSDM) course.

"Force Planning: Strategy Meets Budgets" was a panel discussion featuring two former officials with extensive experience in formulating both the strategic guidance for the military as well as ensuring proper resourcing of the force: Tina Jonas, who served most recently as the undersecretary of defense (comptroller) from 2004-2008, and Barry Pavel, who served most recently as special assistant to the president and senior director for Defense Policy and Strategy on the National Security Council staff from 2008 to 2010.

Ambassador John Cloud, a professor in the NSA department, moderated the discussion.

In their opening remarks and in their responses to questions posed by NWC students, the panelists explored a number of issues. Can an effective strategy be developed without assessing the resources that are available? To what extent does the process rather than strategic considerations drive force planning? What are the way sin which we can ensure that procurement accounts are able to deliver the tools needed to support the strategy?

The process ought to allow leadership to set priorities which then drives investment in capabilities and technologies to meet stated goals, as well as lay out where risk has to be assumed because of gaps, since not every possibility or area can be covered because of resource limitations. The budget itself is a statement of policy, and there are implications of not funding the right things for national security.

Questions posed to the speakers included whether the status quo is tenable or whether the process itself by which budgets are produced and forces created needs to be redesigned, and what lessons can be learned from the way private industry functions as well as the role of leadership in facilitating change.

Discussion also revolved around the role of strategic prediction, anticipating and preparing for unexpected scenarios, and the impact of rapid technological change on how the U.S. should budget for future forces.

This session gave the students and faculty unique insights into the balancing act within the U.S. national security apparatus and the Department of Defense -- the ongoing "back and forth" between strategists and budgeteers, which is ultimately translated into policies, plans, and capabilities.