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The first General Board that convened at the Naval War College in 1901 was the forerunner of the Long Range Planning Group that was established this year. To get the most from the members of this new OP-OOX group, the Chief of Naval Operations will have to ask them the really hard questions, recognizing that such questions will sometimes elicit some unpleasant answers.
On 15 January 1980, the Long Range Planning Group (OP-OOX) was established within the OpNav staff. Its purpose is to assist the Chief of Naval Operations in identifying long-range Navy objectives, establishing priorities, weighing alternative strategies for achieving the objectives, and assessing the effect of limited resources on future naval capabilities. The group is led by Rear Admiral Charles R. Larson, who reports directly to the CNO. Other members include officers with backgrounds in technology and research, politico-military planning, resource allocation, and plans and programs development. Intelligence officers provide collateral support. The OP-OOX staff may also be supplemented occasionally by retired flag officers and civilian advisors.
What is Long-Range Planning? Simply put, long- range planning is the process through which top managers identify their organization’s long-term objectives and establish broad policies and strategies to guide the acquisition, allocation, and use of resources to achieve those objectives. By comparison with the functional planning done for an organization’s annual programming and budgeting process, long-range planning is inherently less structured, more intuitive, and almost always concerned with factors beyond the organization’s control.1 The result is a statement of ends and means.
While the resulting strategy is important, the process often proves as valuable as the product. Many organizations have found that an effective long-range planning process can help to develop strategic issues, allocate scarce resources, integrate and coordinate complex organizations, evaluate managers, and stimulate innovative thinking throughout the of' ganization. In sum, long-range planning represents an ongoing, outward-oriented planning process which attempts to apply an organization’s strengths toward minimizing the risks and exploiting the emerging opportunities in a constantly changing environment.
The Present Planning System: The Navy’s current planning and programming system developed as a response to the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) which was started in January 1961 by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara- The fundamental goal of the PPBS was to make decisions based on explicit (often quantitative) criteria rather than have them result from institutional m- fighting. The Navy soon realized that in order to compete successfully for scarce resources within the new system, it would need analytic and program' ming capabilities which paralleled those newly i*1' stalled within the Office of the Secretary of Defense- Consequently, in 1963 the Navy established a ne'*' position for a three-star admiral—Director, Navy Program Planning (OP-090). A specialized analyt<c staff was added in late 1966 when the System5 Analysis Division (OP-96) was formed. This sanf>e PPBS-oriented planning organization remains essentially intact today. From its inception, the OP-090 billet has generally gone to vice admirals on theif
For footnotes, please turn to page 65.
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way up. Four subsequently became Vice Chiefs of Naval Operations, two fleet commanders in chief, and one the CNO.2
In its original form, the PPBS undeniably represented an important bridge between military planning and budgeting. As it has evolved, however, the allocation of too-small budgets has taken precedence over planning. As the recent Defense Resource Management Study says, “There is broad agreement that the first ‘P’ in PPBS is silent.”3 Although some longer range planning is currently done within the Navy staff, small staffs and competing short-term demands limit the scope of what can be accomplished. Moreover, the annual cycle of PPBS activities itself hampers effective planning in several ways:
► There is no clear-cut beginning or end to the cycle. This means that the process, rather than encouraging the development of fresh new alternatives, tends simply to encourage the continuation of programs already under way.
► At each level of review, the focus is on funding for near-term gain—potentially at the expense of promising new initiatives whose cost justifications are necessarily “soft” during their conceptual stages.
► The format of the PPBS cycle encourages an incremental, “tinkering” approach to planning. Consequently, systems are sometimes developed to their optimum potential individually without fully exploiting relationships among them.
► Tight schedules and bureaucratic self-interest mean there is little opportunity for existing programs to be objectively compared with innovative alternatives for insights as to their relative contributions to long-term Navy objectives.
As a quantitative technique for making important near-term resource allocation decisions, the PPBS has proven highly effective. But over time, the unduly narrow focus of the PPBS has resulted in what former Under Secretary of the Navy R. James Woolsey has said is an approach to planning “with an instinct for the capillaries.”
Previous Efforts: Over the years, several very different organizations have devoted attention to Navy long-range planning issues.4 Between 1900 and 1951, effort was centered in the General Board. Reporting directly to the Secretary of the Navy, the board had a purely advisory role. Nonetheless, its influence was considerable. Before World War I, the board either originated or coordinated almost all planning in the Navy. During its first 32 years, the board’s ex officio members included the Director of Naval Intelligence, President of the Naval War College, and after 1915, the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1932, the board was reconstituted so as to consist usually of three to five rear admirals, one or more captains, and a commander.
Many major naval figures served on the General Board during the inter-war years. Among them were William V. Pratt, Frederick J. Horne, and Ernest )■ King. During this period, the board developed naval building programs, reviewed warship characteristics, studied political and strategic questions, prepared Navy policy position papers, and reviewed major war plans. After World War II, except for a brief resurgence during 1947-48, the prestige and influence of the General Board diminished in the face of the growing power of the new Department of Defense- By 1951, Secretary of the Navy Francis Matthews was persuaded that the board was no longer useful and disbanded it.
A distinctly different organization emerged during the mid-1950s. In 1954, an ad hoc committee chaired by Vice Admiral Ralph A. Ofstie was directed to study the nature of future naval operations to provide a basis for long-range shipbuilding plans and programs. Reflecting on the collateral duty
c aracter of his committee, Admiral Ofstie observed: is too much to expect that the average OPNAV *cer, heavily burdened with making the best of toy s inadequacies, can satisfactorily project himself lr> odd hours into imaginative, yet sound contempla- fion of another world ten or more years hence. If nothing more, his mind will be slow to view unfavorably for 1965 the type of weapon or force he is a*ly supporting as essential for 1955 or 1958.”5 Admiral Ofstie’s comments were the stimulus for 1 e creation in February 1955 of the Long Range Objectives Group (OP-93) by Admiral Robert B. Carney, e CNo. The assigned mission was to advise the CNo regarding “. . . the missions, tasks, and requirements of the Navy for the period from the pres- 6nt extending approximately 10-15 years into the fu- a^6 ^ 7ear Dter, the new CNO, Admiral Arleigh
• Burke, significantly enhanced the status of long- tange planning in OpNav by locating the Long ^ange Objectives Group within the immediate office 0 the CNO and making its members responsible only himself and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO).
During its early years, OP-93’s power and influence rtved from its organizational and personal proxim- 1Cy t0 the CNO. As a captain, Burke had been one of e junior members of the postwar General Board, his long-standing belief in the importance of n§-range planning for the Navy’s future was re-
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The chief product of OP-93 was an annual statement of long-range objectives (LRO) for the Navy. It outlined the naval force levels required 10-15 years into the future to fulfill the Navy’s projected responsibilities. In 1964, the LRO became the mid-range objectives statement (MRO) and the period of concern was changed to 11 years. Nine statements, LRO or MRO, were prepared between 1957 and 1969. While OP-93 did not participate directly in the program planning process, the LRO and MRO statements did serve as general guidelines for the development of more formal mid- and long-range plans. OP-93 also produced other influential studies on naval policy matters and the application of new technologies to the fleet.
By the late 1960s, in part as a result of the growing influence of the DoD PPBS on service planning, the Long Range Objectives Group’s influence was waning. The PPBS was focusing the services’ planning on a five-year period and emphasizing the application of quantitative measures of effectiveness. OP-93’s more broadly conceived products became less and less relevant to daily decision-making, and in September 1970, the group was disestablished. Since then, whatever broad-gauge planning has been done was usually accomplished by ad hoc planning groups. Sometimes these were excellent efforts, but their lasting influence was inevitably diluted when the tempo-
ected in the caliber of officers assigned to OP-93 ''’hile he was the CNO. Remarkably, all four of the y°Ung flag officers Burke appointed to the 'rectorship—Charles D. (“Don”) Griffin, Roy L. •l°hnson, Horacio Rivero, and Thomas H. poorer—went on to four-star rank and command of eets. Admiral Rivero rose to VCNO and Admiral Poorer became Chief of Naval Operations and later
rary study group disbanded. Without a formal staff, the best intentions to plan for the long term were usually overwhelmed by the pressure to respond to short-term crises.
The Navy’s Need for Planning: The Navy today has a greater need for effective long-range planning than any other armed service. Several factors make this so:
► Warship Longevity. Given suitable maintenance and modernization, naval planners now expect that new combatants will serve anywhere from about 30 years for a destroyer to as many as 45 years for an aircraft carrier. If these ships are not to be prematurely outmoded, they must have well thought-out and flexible designs, capable of accommodating changes in strategy, technology, and operating conditions.
► Escalating Costs. Since 1962, it has been estimated that naval ship costs have increased at an average rate of almost 6% per year in constant dollars. Real aircraft costs have grown even faster, averaging about 7.3% per year. Part of this cost growth stems from increases in ship and aircraft size and weight, while the balance reflects technological advances and social and economic factors. Significantly, many of the major social and economic conditions responsible for this sort of price growth are beyond the Navy’s control.
While individual ship and aircraft costs have been growing, the Navy’s funding levels have been shrinking. During the last ten years, despite a highly visible expansion in Soviet naval capabilities, the U. S. Navy experienced a 3-7% net decrease in total obii- gational authority. Moreover, major elements of today’s Navy are scheduled to be retired after 1985. On average, more than 25 ships per year will reach the end of their normal service lives by the late 1980s, including large numbers of destroyers, nuclear submarines, and amphibious warfare ships. Thus, to have any hope whatsoever of maintaining a fleet of even today’s modest size into the next century will require an extraordinarily ambitious building program. With little prospect of more money, the Navy will need to spend money more wisely.
► Role of Technology. There is no reliable yardstick for measuring a navy’s technological level, but most agree that the U. S. Navy currently retains a qualitative edge over the Soviets in most basic military technology. Technology is a means, though, and not an end. Until U. S. technological superiority is translated into deployed operational capabilities, it is of little military consequence. In this regard, too many potential U. S. advantages continue to languish in either the laboratory or a tortuous acquisition process.
Over the last 20 years, the U.S.S.R. has invested enormous resources in the development of military technology. Since 1972, the Soviet military research and development program has exceeded that of the United States and is now estimated to be about 75% larger in equivalent dollar costs. At the same time, the Soviets have been very effective at translating research technology into fully deployed weapon systems. Almost two decades ago, the late Dr. Wernhef von Braun anticipated today’s concern when he said that he was ”... sick and tired of always being told that theirs are bigger, but ours are smarter. What happens,” he asked, “when theirs are bigger—and smarter too?”8
Many people believe, however, that with skillftd and imaginative management, an unusual confluent of new technological trends could serve to revoD' tionize naval warfare to the U. S. Navy’s advantage within the balance of this century. As yet, one can only speculate about the ultimate impact of such developments as precision guided standoff munitions, advanced surface hull forms, and powered-lift aircraft , on the future character of naval warfare. A great deal more study and planning certainly will be required before there can be any confidence that these or other new technologies will offer alternatives which are economically affordable and operationally desirable- But to wring maximum advantage from technolog1' cal opportunities, a closer relationship must be estab' lished between the Navy’s future capability objee- fives, operational employment concepts, and weapo0 system development and acquisition strategies.
Avoiding Some Common Pitfalls: Even though long' range planning has been widely adopted as an aid t° management, the process is still sometimes misunderstood. Four especially prevalent pitfalls desert mention here, because the new Long Range Planning Group will do well to avoid them.
First, long-range planning decisions do not alway5 require a long time to put into effect. The difference5 between the long-range planning to be done by the OP-OOX staff and the functional planning already under way within the Navy’s programming and budgeting system are only incidentally related to the time dimension. Both involve similar planning procedures, but while the Long Range Planning Group will usually describe preferred outcomes for the whole Navy, most existing Navy planning focuses on specific action programs designed to produce more precisely defined results. Despite these theoretical differences, in practice the two forms of planning should be complementary and therefore often difficult to separate.
Second, while it is concerned with the future, the Navy’s new long-range planning staff should not attempt to forecast it. This is the case because the development of capabilities that will be used in the distant future requires estimates of needs, operational conditions, and performance requirements that are inherently uncertain. Moreover, as development proceeds, the nature of the uncertainties will change-
fays be few in number, sometimes high in risk, and
US, effective long-range planners will not wrestle with questions of what the Navy should do tomor- r°w. Rather, they will be concerned principally with W at decisions ought to be made today to prepare for an uncertain tomorrow. Indeed, it is precisely because we cannot predict the future that long-range P anning is so important.
Third, because the future is uncertain, long- cange planning always involves an element of risk. 0 planning effort, however effective, can eliminate at risk. Every Navy development program, for example, requires the commitment of current resources tQward future objectives which are inherently uncertain and therefore entail unavoidable risks. But with risks come potential rewards, and often the most Promising programs are also the most chancy. The Question, then, is not whether to undertake risks, ut rather which risks to take. This is where long- range planning, with its emphasis on the future confluences of current decisions, can contribute. The j °n8 Range Planning Group should be able to il- ^ minate and rationalize the risk implicit in Navy evelopment programs in ways which will facilitate ‘utelligent, strategically consistent choices among c°mpeting alternatives.
Last and perhaps most important, the fundamental purpose of good long-range planning must k Ways be kept clear—and that is, after all, to make ^tter current decisions rather than better plans for e future. Too frequently, planning staffs produce arnbitious plans which are handsomely bound and le read. Consequently, nothing ever really hapPens as a result of these plans. By contrast, a relevant ng-range planning effort ought to continuously faw Navy decision-makers’ attention to those Cr*tical issues facing their service today in terms of rnative courses of current action. If the process arrived at the right issues, they will almost al- pressing in urgency.
Conclusion: To get the most from the members of 'To new OP-OOX group, Navy leaders will have to asL them the really hard questions, recognizing that 0se hard questions will sometimes lead to unpleasant answers. On their part, the planners must be °Pen to all viewpoints, willing to challenge conven- tlonal wisdom, and above all, ready to point out things that are not always popular. They will have to retnain objective and independent, always striving to think beyond the constraints of traditional platforms and missions in order to explore new alternatives.
uey should also be alert to identify attractive Strategic opportunities and examine the feasibility of
innovative responses to competitive areas requiring remedial action. At the same time, though, the planners must avoid ivory tower isolation in favor of a substantial role in the policy formulation process. Here, frequent contact with key decision-makers will be essential to making long-term considerations a more integral and influential element of the daily decision-making process.
Some of this will be costly—in leaders’ time, in talented officers, and in the doubts and frustrations inherent in managing change in an uncertain world. All of it will take time, in order to train people, change perspectives, and institutionalize the long- range planning process. But given the effort the Navy already devotes to programming and budgeting for the short term, this greater investment is clearly worthwhile. After all, in the long-term competition between the U. S. and Soviet navies, the future will belong to those who best prepare for it.
A graduate of Lafayette College, Commander Riggle was commissioned through the Officer Candidate School. He has a master’s degree from Harvard University and graduated with highest distinction from the Naval War College. He has served in the USS Chevalier (DD-805), patrol boats in Vietnam, USS Knox (DE-1052), and USS Luce (DDG-38). Ashore, he has been assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Systems Analysis Division of the Office of the CNO, the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, and as Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Commander Riggle was a member of the CNO Long Range Planning Group before taking command of the USS Kinkaid (DD-965).    *  7
’Memorandum for the CNO, 28 July 1954.
William J. Perry, The FY 1980 Department of Defense Program for Research, Development and Acquisition, February 1979, pp. 11-19- KQuoted in The Allied Interdependence Newsletter No. 13 (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 12 June 1979), p10.
'A useful overview of the nature of long range planning is contained in George A. Steiner, Strategic Planning: What Every Manager Must Know (New York: The Free Press, 1979), pp. 12-34. For real-life examples from business, see also Peter Lorange and Richard F. Vancil, Strategic Planning Systems (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1977).
Those serving as Director, Navy Program Planning have included Horacio Rivero, Ephraim P. Holmes, Bernard C. Clarey, Fred G. Bennett, Edwin C. Bell, Ralph Weymouth, Worth H. Bagley, Thomas B Hayward, Donald C. Davis, William N. Small, and M. Staser Holcomb.
Donald B. Rice, Defense Resource Management Study (Washington: Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1979) p. 6. (for sale through Superintendent of Documents).
On earlier Navy planning efforts see David A. Rosenberg, “Historical Perspectives in Long Range Planning in the Navy, Part I: The Planning Process in Overview 1900-1978,” a draft study for the Naval Research Advisory Committee, May 1979.
8Commander Rolf H. Clark, USN, "Resource Allocations in the U. S. Navy; Perspectives and Prospects,” a Naval Postgraduate School Working Paper, July 1978.