System Dynamics as a Conceptual Framework for Long-Term Defence Planning Initiatives

  • R. G. Coyle
  • R. Goad


The paper discusses the problem of evaluating competing or comple­mentary long-term defence planning initiatives. It is agreed that the complex inter-relationships which may exist between them, and between the geographical areas in which they would be deployed, create a need for a framework for conceptual and quantitative analysis. The paper then dem­onstrates a method for formulating conceptual frameworks which clearly show the issues involved, and which can serve as agenda for discussion or as a basis for a quantitative model. The method is applied in the context of NATO’s Northern Region, giving both a diagrammatic and a quantitative simulation model, the latter being based on fictitious data. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the advantages and limitation of the method.

The process of long-term defence planning in NATO is, in principle, very simple; military needs are idenfitied, possible solutions to those needs are proposed and evaluated, and the most promising solutions are implemented, subject to budgetary and political constraints. In practice, matters are more complicated, not least because the evaluation problem is technically very difficult. Different proposals affect NATO’s ability to deal with a potential confrontation with the Warsaw Pact in different ways, and a coherent discussion of long-term defence issues requires a common, but tractable, analytical structure which facilitates evaluation and explanation of their relative contributions to NATO security.

This paper outlines such an analytical structure: a System Dynamics formulation of a potential NATO/WP conflict in the context of a developing crisis. The effect of a number of long-term defence initiatives on the ensuing conflict is illustrated by way of an influence diagram of their mutual interactions. The main theme of the paper is to show, by way qf the influence diagram, the conceptual relationships between these initiatives, and thus to indicate qualitiatively their potential effect on NATO security. In so doing, a firm analytical basis for quantifying these effects will also be laid, and the paper will give some illustrative examples, using fictitious data.


Aggregate Model System Dynamics Approach Influence Diagram Mobilizable Reserve Mission Area 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Coyle
    • 1
  • R. Goad
    • 1
  1. 1.Shape Technical CentreThe HagueThe Netherlands

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