Defence Planning and Uncertainty
Preparing for the Next Asia-Pacific War
Routledge – 2014 – 240 pages
How can countries decide what kind of military forces they need, if threats are uncertain and history is full of strategic surprises? This is a question that is more pertinent than ever, as countries across the Asia-Pacific are faced with the military and economic rise of China. Uncertainty is inherent in defence planning, but different types of uncertainty mean that countries need to approach decisions about military force structure in different ways. This book examines four different basic frameworks for defence planning, and demonstrates how states can make decisions coherently about the structure and posture of their defence forces despite strategic uncertainty. It draws on case studies from the United States, Australian and New Zealand, each of which developed key concepts for their particular circumstances and risk perception in Asia. Success as well as failure in developing coherent defence planning frameworks holds lessons for the United States and other countries as they consider how best to structure their military forces for the uncertain challenges of the future.
"Stephan Frühling's book examines the challenges of defense planning through an enlightening and insightful series of case studies. It provides scholars and policy-makers alike a rigorous and rich understanding of an important and under-examined field." – Thomas G. Mahnken, Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security, U.S. Naval War College
"Stephan Frühling has written by far the most insightful book to appear for many years on the ubiquitous and eternal challenges of defence planning. Few subjects as critically important as this have attracted so little disciplined and persuasive scholarly effort. Fruhling explains that defence planning is about the attempted management of risk in an unavoidably uncertain future, and that the risk management process is essentially always political. No matter how advanced the methods employed to try and reduce uncertainty, the inconvenient fact remains that because the future has yet to happen, thoroughly reliable knowledge about its dangers is unknowable now. Defence planning always is conducted in the context of an incurable ignorance about a future that has not occurred. Fruhling provides an exceptionally rigorous yet clear guide to the ways in which we can strive to conduct prudent defence planning despite our uncertainty: his is a landmark work that deserves a readership in many countries." – Colin Gray, Professor of Politics and International Relations at Reading University, UK
"Stephan Frühling has provided a thoughtful and thought-provoking work on defense planning at a time when the Pentagon needs it most.
With the United States planning a major reorientation of its defense posture toward Asia following over a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pentagon planners are once again brushing up on strategy. They would do well to include Stephan Frühling's Defense Planning and Uncertainty among their readings." – Andrew Krepinevich, President of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), USA
1. Introduction: Defence Planning and the Problem of China 2. Defence Planning as Risk Management 3. Net Assessment-Based Planning 4. Mobilization Planning 5. Portfolio Planning 6. Task-Based Planning 7. US Defence Planning Frameworks and the Rise of China 8. Managing the Risk of Conflict in 21st Century Asia 9. Enduring Tensions in Defence Planning
Stephan Frühling is Senior Lecturer in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, Australia.