Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge of Uncertainty

ISBN : 9780198778707

Colin S. Gray
240 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2016
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Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge of Uncertainty explores and examines why and how security communities prepare purposefully for their future defence. The author explains that defence planning is the product of interplay among political process, historical experience, and the logic of strategy. The theory of strategy best reveals both the nature and the working of defence planning. Political 'ends', strategic 'ways', and military 'means' all fed by reigning, if not always recognized, assumptions, organize the subject well with a template that can serve any time, place, and circumstance. The book is designed to help understanding of what can appear to be a forbiddingly complex as well as technical subject. A good part of the problem for officials charged with defence planning duties is expressed in the second part of the book's title. The real difficulty, which rarely is admitted by those tasked with defence planning duty, is that defence planning can only be guesswork. But, because defence preparation is always expensive, not untypically is politically unpopular, yet obviously can be supremely important, claims to knowledge about the truly unknowable persist. In truth, we cannot do defence planning competently, because our ignorance of the future precludes understanding of what our society will be shown by future events to need. The challenge faced by the author was to identify ways in which our problems with the inability to know the future in any detail in advance-the laws of nature, in other words-may best be met and mitigated. Professor Gray argues that our understanding of human nature, of politics, and of strategic history, does allow us to make prudent choices in defence planning that hopefully will prove 'good enough'.


1 Defining the Challenge: Preparation, Not (Only) Plans
2 A Strategic Approach
3 Historical Context: (1) The Great Stream of Time
4 Historical Context: (2) Patterns for Anticipation
5 Political Process and Defence Planning
6 Guidance for Defence Planning
7 Between Prudence and Paranoia

About the author: 

Dr Colin S. Gray is a political scientist with broad interests in national security policy, defence policy, strategy, strategic theory, and military history. He was educated at the University of Manchester (B.A. [Econ.] hons.), 1965, and at Lincoln College, Oxford University (D.Phil., International Politics, 1970). He is Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies, and Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, at the University of Reading, England, and is a Senior Fellow at the National Institute for Public Policy, Fairfax, VA, USA. From 1982 until 1987 Dr Gray held a Presidential appointment when he served on the President's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament. In April 1987 he was presented with the Superior Public Service Award by the US Department of the Navy. In 1997-98 he served on the Panel of Experts on the UK Strategic Defence Review. In 2009-10 he was a member of the Defence Advisory Forum for the UK Ministry of Defence.

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