Academic journal article Military Review

A Primer on Developing Measures of Effectiveness

Academic journal article Military Review

A Primer on Developing Measures of Effectiveness

Article excerpt


TO UNDERSTAND THE operational level of war, students must appreciate the newest Joint doctrine. At the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, an important doctrinal concept is elements of operational design. As an instructor at the college, I have observed that "measures of effectiveness" are a difficult aspect of operational design for students to understand. Because my own knowledge of the concept was lacking, I conducted some research on the topic by scanning existing Joint doctrine and asking around the school. My only success came from individuals at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Analysis Center, who provided a NATO manual on best practices for assessing command and control systems. (1) This manual is informative about measures of effectiveness, albeit not in the context of operational design, and it is too technical and specialized for most staff officers.

The dearth of knowledge surrounding measures of effectiveness extends beyond the college student population. This conclusion is not meant to disparage anyone or any institution but to highlight the general lack of understanding surrounding the concept of measures of effectiveness. This article reflects my efforts to describe a practical but rigorous method to develop measures of effectiveness that a nonspecialist can employ. The article will cover* Examining the utility of metrics in general.

* Analyzing how current Joint doctrine portrays measures of effectiveness as part of the elements of operational design.

* Exploring how fields outside the military deal with concepts like measures of effectiveness.

* Mining those other fields for insights to help bridge some of the gaps in current military doctrine.

* Providing observations on the implications of my findings on the emerging Army doctrine of design and related concepts.


Why should we care about measures of effectiveness? The answer is that current Joint doctrine says so. However, this is a circular argument, and the question warrants a better answer. Pragmatic military leaders should care about measures of effectiveness if for no other reason than that the American people's representatives in Congress care about them. The requirements to brief Congress on progress in Iraq and Afghanistan are examples. An article by Patrick Cronin notes that congressional members from both parties have indicated that continued support for efforts in Iraq is contingent on "credible evidence of tangible military progress." (2)

In addition, a series of recent U.S. Joint Forces Command studies reinforce the utility of assessment tools such as measures of effectiveness. Joint Operations: Insights and Best Practices cites the use of assessment measures as "an important best practice whose need is reinforced time and time again in operational headquarters." (3) The study makes measures of effectiveness especially important in today's complex operating environment, which challenges planners' abilities to predict the outcome of their plans accurately. (4)

Current Doctrine

One logical place to begin is by surveying existing doctrine for some guidance on how to develop measures of effectiveness. The authoritative doctrinal references for measures of effectiveness are Joint Publication (JP) 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, and its companion manual, JP 3-0, Joint Operations. (5) These two manuals combine both measures of effectiveness and measures of performance under the general title of Assessment Measures and direct staffs to develop assessment measures during mission analysis. Other than that, Joint doctrine provides no insight on the actual mechanics of developing suitable measures of effectiveness.

In the absence of doctrinal guidance, research beyond military publications becomes necessary. In that regard, I will explore three fields:

* The basic tenets of social science research methodology. …

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