Measuring Readiness

The military’s current way to determine readiness by measuring inputs, such as aircraft flying hours, does not accurately show how ready the services are for combat, said defense budget analyst Todd Harrison, with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on Tuesday. And, relying on inputs allows the military to engage in “circular logic” by telling Congress it is not ready due to inadequate funding for the inputs, Harrison said in presenting his new report, Rethinking Readiness. The military currently tells Congress its readiness levels by reporting the inputs of available personnel, equipment and supplies on hand, equipment condition, and training. Harrison urged Congress to require the military to determine readiness by measuring the outputs, such as a fighter pilot’s ability to prevail in air-to-air combat or to put bombs on target. That could be accomplished by conducting a series of controlled experiments that could show more accurately what factors really affect readiness, he said. Harrison’s study was inspired by a 2011 Congressional Budget Office report that said the inputs do not accurately determine readiness outputs.