News   Reform

Official Says DOD Is Shifting to a Strategic Readiness Posture

Aug. 20, 2021 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Strategic readiness is vital to mission success and should be woven into everything the Defense Department does, said the assistant secretary of defense for readiness.

A woman speaks from behind a small dias.
Skelly Remarks
Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, speaks at the Professional Services Council's Defense Services Conference in Arlington, Va., Aug. 17, 2021.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 210817-D-UB488-001

Shawn Skelly told the Professional Services Council's Defense Services Conference earlier this week that the traditional operational readiness model — which she said means being ready to fight tonight — needs to be broadened to include a strategic readiness model.

"While operational readiness is a key component of strategic readiness, viewing readiness through a 'fight tonight' lens does not provide the comprehensive view of readiness that the department needs to maintain a strategic advantage," she said.

A soldier jumps from a helicopter into a body of water.
Leap Into the Lake
A soldier jumps from an Army CH-47 Chinook into a lake during helocast training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 17, 2021.
Photo By: Alejandro Pena, Air Force
VIRIN: 210817-F-HY271-0234M

To refocus the Department on strategic readiness, Skelly said:

  • Model-informed predictive analytics assessments of strategic readiness must be incorporated into the department's existing strategy, planning and resourcing processes.
  • Decision makers must have access to objective analysis that captures the full range of the risks and tradeoffs of their choices to current readiness, future readiness, and modernization.
  • Professional military education, leadership development, and training must be paired with talent management so service members are strategically-minded, technologically-savvy, joint warfighters who think critically and can creatively apply military power based on national objectives, such as understanding China as a strategic competitor. 
  • The health and safety of the workforce is vital. Data-driven, predictive approaches are necessary to address mishaps and workplace injuries and their causes to prevent future occurrences and readiness degradation they cause. 

"Without a renewed focus on strategic readiness, the department risks being unprepared to fulfill national military objectives, Skelly said, adding that many of these goals will not be achieved overnight and doing so will require an all-hands-on-deck effort.