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Defense Official: Programming Stitches Together Strategy, Capabilities

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, March 07, 2016 — The planning, programming and budgeting process for an organization the size of the Defense Department is not pretty, but it does work.

Dr. Jamie M. Morin, DoD’s director of cost assessment and program evaluation, discussed the programming aspect of planning, programming and budgeting -- probably the least familiar aspect of the process -- during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies headquarters here today.

Programming, he said, “is really about connecting the broad goals of our strategy and of our operational planning with the capabilities, the capacity and the readiness that’s required to carry them out.”

Delivering Deterrence

Programming looks at “delivering comprehensive deterrence for the nation so that we can secure a beneficial peace for the American people and for the world,” Morin said.

The PPB process began in the early 1960s when then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was seeking a better way to tie strategy to resources. Each successive administration has tried to improve the process. “Part of what we are trying to do is tighten that linkage from strategy all the way through to budget,” Morin said.

It starts with defining critical objectives, he said. For the fiscal year 2017 defense budget request, that meant clear and early guidance from the secretary of defense as to the strategic priorities.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter “gave us that guidance early enough that we could charter some very specific and focused analytic efforts to get at the critical questions that turned into the details of the budget,” Morin said.

Strategic Portfolios

Personnel from the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office worked on strategic portfolio reviews deliberately designed to reach across the different structures of the department, he said, noting that these reviews were not limited to a service, a domain, a weapons system or one appropriations lineup.

These reviews are “the department's analytical crown jewels for this last cycle and were core to us aligning resources to the most critical challenges facing the department,” Morin said.

To illustrate his point, Morin used the review of power projection.

DoD has to be able to field the right capabilities in a sufficient quantity in order to provide that comprehensive deterrence for adversaries and potential adversaries around the world, he said.

“Potential adversaries need to understand and be very cognizant of the capabilities the United States can bring to bear if we need to defend allies, if we need to defend American interests,” Morin said. “Whether or not those capabilities are up to the snuff and make that potential adversary think twice, is really at the heart of global deterrence.”

There were three major thematic findings in the power projection strategic portfolio review, he said.

“First, it placed a great emphasis on the ability of the United States to deliver effects from range,” Morin said.

“The second critical theme is about disaggregating complex systems, extremely expensive systems, extremely valuable systems, extremely precious systems, into simpler elements in order to carry out military tasks,” he said.

Sanctuary

The third principle is to leverage areas of sanctuary. “Again, if others are seeking to keep you out so that you cannot defend allies or defend interests, it’s important to be able to act from domains or from means where you enjoy a relative sanctuary,” he said.

One aspect Morin’s team brings to the equation is the ability to look farther into the future, giving them a planning horizon far enough out that new technologies and weapons systems start to come in.

“To emphasize both the sanctuary piece and the delivering effects from range piece, I highlight one specific domain example, which is what this program and budget do in the undersea,” he said. “That’s an area of extraordinary advantage for the United States, an area where we enjoy a relative sanctuary, an area where we have technological advantages built up over decades that give us extraordinary capability. So you see across the future years’ defense plan, over $40 billion of additional investment in American undersea capabilities.”

That money goes to fielding more state-of-the-art Virginia-class submarines, Morin said, and to the initial stages of modernizing undersea nuclear deterrence with the Ohio Replacement Program.

But it goes farther, he said. “One extremely important one is the investment in what we call the Virginia payload module,” Morin said. “The Virginia payload module is really an extended-cab version of your standard Virginia attack submarine. And it's an extraordinarily high-leverage one. Because while the run-of-the-mill Virginia offers you 12 [Tomahawks], the Virginia payload module version offers you 40. So, more than triple the shooting capacity, as well as capabilities to support a whole host of other special missions and weapons systems.”

But, Morin said, the Navy can’t stand still in undersea warfare. Programmers recommended upgrading submarine combat systems and investing in improved acoustics and sensing technology, he said.

“And we’re also looking towards unmanned capability and the Virginia payload module will also give those submarines more capability to host various unmanned systems,” Morin said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)