Army Capability Development Needs to Go Back to the Future

  • Colonel Theodore M. Thomas II

As doctrinally written, developing and acquiring a capability-based force is the basis of the current Joint Capability Integration and Development System (JCIDS). This force is one developed agnostic of a specific threat or enemy, and rather on how a future enemy may fight. The new and current threat of persistent irregular warfare, plus emerging peer global competitors is a credible justification to adopt a threat-based model of capability development. Threat-informed capability development will ensure more relevant capabilities delivered to the combatant commanders to meet global requirements. JCIDS should adopt a hybrid process blending threat and capabilities based development. By using a blended and iterative approach that bases near and mid-term capability needs on current threats that pose a danger to U.S. interests, and long-term needs on a capability-based philosophy, the joint force can rapidly develop relevant systems to counter near-term threats that hold promise for a long service life against future threats. In addition, such a process will encourage the efficient use of limited budgetary resources and discourage technological overreach on immature technologies.