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After more than a decade of operating on a wartime footing, the military services are struggling to meet readiness requirements in many critical areas. Increasingly tight budgets, combined with operating reserves that are stretched to the limit, leave little room for error in readiness planning.
Numbers and capabilities must be precisely calculated and shortfalls anticipated, so that mission resources can be allocated in the most effective manner to meet mission objectives. Unfortunately, current decision-support systems do not provide the deep level of insight in enough time to address today’s demanding readiness challenges.
Military leaders use a variety of factors to determine readiness. These include qualitative and quantitative assessments ranging from commanders’ reports to measures of personnel, training, equipment usage, maintenance cycles, supply chains, and other related factors. Readiness reporting systems across the Department of Defense (DoD) collect current readiness inputs and near-term projections from military units with the goal of generating objective, accurate, and timely qualitative and quantitative readiness measures.
The systems contain a profusion of readiness data, but neither the systems nor the data provide decision makers responsible for assessing composite readiness with a sufficient understanding of the complex interrelationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level? And, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit?
Having a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness impacts and tradeoffs will enable leaders to make more realistic readiness decisions, and do it in a timely and cost-effective manner.
“The problem isn’t lack of data, or even lack of the right data. It's that we lack a complete understanding of how data is interrelated.”