Framework for Developing the Political Judgment of the Beltway Strategist

  • Colonel Patrick R. Michaelis

The purpose of this paper is to examine current theoretical models that help inform the Beltway strategist to “understand” the unique nature of the Beltway as an area of responsibility (AOR), and from those theoretical models propose a “framework” that creates context in the mind of the Beltway strategist and a start point for developing political judgment and awareness. To the neophyte, the myriad of influences to decision making and strategy within the Beltway AOR seem an imponderable act to decipher. The policy, process (bureaucracy), politics, and personality (4-Ps) model, emphasizing a framework relationship between the 4-Ps; the twin forcing functions of time and interests; and the lens of strategy as a function of priorities, resources, and risk, give the Beltway strategist, in any policy domain, a start point for contextual analysis. Independent of the framework, recommendations to the Army to develop political judgment and awareness focus on exposure and experience, earlier educational opportunities and broadening experiences, and a competitive and desirable selection process.