Surprise Is Inevitable; Vulnerability Is Not
June 15, 2010
The Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) mission to protect the nation necessitates its leaders’ concern about the military’s readiness for a vast and expanding range of missions. These concerns are heightened in the midst of two ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and within the context of a world that is increasingly complex. To their credit, DoD leaders continue to seek insight from both inside and outside the department about areas of potential vulnerability; this study is one such effort.
In Fall 2009, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD (P&R)) asked CSIS to undertake a six-month assessment of DoD vulnerabilities to events that might occur in the next 5 to 10 years. As described in this report, the study team employed a three-step approach to meet this charter: (1) identify possible areas of surprise; (2) estimate the types of military capabilities addressing such surprises might require; and (3) compare those demands to DoD’s current capabilities to identify potential gaps. The report concludes with a broad discussion of those gaps and some considerations for DoD leaders going forward as they seek to address them.