Expanded Capability Portfolios to Steer Force Development under Strategic Uncertainty

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Specialist Meeting on Capability-Based Long Term Planning, Oslo (2008)


adaptiveness, agility, capability portfolio, investment management, long-term defence planning, strategic uncertainty


The paper reflects a methodology for long-term defence planning, developed by one of the authors at the request of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence in the period July-November 2007. The methodology builds on good practices in long-term defence planning and capabilities-based planning in an attempt to make the force development process more sensitive and adaptive to significant changes in the environment (security, political, socio-economic, technological, etc.) while preserving the transparency of resource allocation decisions. The underlying approach combines two recent developments. The first one calls for the use of two levels of scenarios—‘mission scenarios,’ or ‘planning situations’ in NATO parlance, and ‘context scenarios,’ known also as ‘alternative futures’—as a means to represent strategic uncertainty in the force development environment. The second one is based on an expanded definition of ‘capability.’ We distinguish three types of capabilities: A. Capabilities to perform operational and management tasks, the operational capabilities being in the focus of long-term planning so far; B. Capabilities to shape the security environment, e.g. regional security cooperation, assistance to other countries, etc., and C. Capabilities for strategic adaptiveness, including analysis of trends and forecasting changes in the force development environment, technology monitoring, R&D, concept development and experimentation, maintenance of mobilization capacity, etc. Since the decisions in the long-term planning process are made under constraints (although constraints may be more or less loose), all types of capabilities are thus placed on equal footing in the competition for resources, while the use of context scenarios allows to rationalize the balancing between type A capabilities and the investment in shaping and strategic adaptiveness.