Bad Idea: Using the Phrase 'Military Requirements'
December 7, 2018
It’s a familiar military story: a new weapon system has certain “requirements”—say a range of X miles and a total quantity of Y. Later, when testing shows a range of less than X and fiscal pressures cut the procurement quantities, the service nevertheless goes ahead because this new system is better than what is currently available. So, is the “requirement” not actually required? The answer is no; military “requirements” are actually goals that can be changed. This might be chalked up to quirky military jargon, but the notion of “requirements” has two perverse effects. The first is that it encourages advocates to ask for maximum capabilities. The second is that it sets goals without a sense of trade-offs. The term should be abolished.
This piece was published as part of the Defense360
Mark Cancian is a senior adviser with the CSIS International Security Program.