Demonstration of decision support tools for evaluating ground combat system survivability, lethality, and mobility at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war
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Decision makers often present military researchers with a most daunting challenge: to pursue, with some level of prophetic certainty, innovative concepts that will yield increased capabilities during future wars against forecasted threats in not-yet- determined locations. This conundrum is complicated further with the requirement that the proposed technology yield benefit throughout the various strata of military operations. In the maturation of an advanced capability enabled by a technological advancement, a groundbreaking design should simultaneously demonstrate performance overmatch against an envisioned foe while showing that the costs associated with development, procurement, and operation outweigh reverting to an incremental advancement in the conventional means of delivering combat power. This manuscript focuses on the construction and utilization of decision support tools for use by scientists and engineers charged with providing a quantitative evaluation of an advanced ground combat system. The concepts presented focus on the effects and synergy regarding the combat vehicle principal attributes of survivability, lethality, and mobility. Additionally, this study provides a framework for analysis of these attributes when screened at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of war. These concepts are presented and demonstrated from both the candidate selection (or choice) perspective, and the concept development (or design) perspective. As an example of this approach, this study includes a comparison of conventional powder gun cannonry versus a specific type of electromagnetic launch device known as the railgun. The decision support tools formulated in this dissertation allow the user to distill, at a coarse level of fidelity, the parametric relationships between system survivability, lethality, and mobility for advanced weapon system concepts. The proposed methods are suited for evaluation at the nascent stages of development, when the information normally applied in standard methods is sparse. This general approach may also be valuable in contemporary acquisition strategies employed in urgent fielding efforts, where the immediacy of the problem can benefit from an expedient and efficient method of analyzing the coupled and synergistic effects of implementing a proposed technology. While advantage is typically measured in terms of performance overmatch at the platform level, the broadening of this consideration vertically to higher levels of military command can aid in identifying the competing issues and complementary relationships related to a technical approach. Finally, given the backdrop demonstration for the framework, this manuscript may serve as a brief summary of system fundamentals and design theory for direct fire powder gun cannonry and electromagnetic railguns.