Support to Force XXI
Land Capability Spectrum Model
by Kent Schlussel, Ph.D., Ben A. Farmer, Jr., and
Paul A. Zimmerman
The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and
do not reflect the official policy or position of the National
Ground Intelligence Center, the Department of the Army, Department
of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
The world presents a dynamic and fluid situation with no single
potential adversary or clear threat to the United States or its
allies. This fluidity is attributable to communications technology
and to the decreased ability of nations to control their borders,
from both a physical and an intellectual perspective. Hence, there
is now a trend toward increased flow of information, religions, and
people across national borders. Drug cartels and crime syndicates
are also spreading worldwide and forming cooperative agreements.
Multinational corporations are establishing operations in countries
where they would have been barred from doing so only a few years
ago. Technology transfer, knowledge transfer, and materiel
proliferation are on the rise. Conflict is increasing in frequency
Global Threat Model
Thus, the Army intelligence community has been faced with its
greatest challenge in more than 50 years capturing information,
analyzing that information, and presenting the resultant analysis
on all the countries of the world. With more than 200 land armies
in the world, the job of staying current on all these armies is a
challenge. In the summer of 1993, the Deputy Chief of Staff for
Intelligence (DCSINT) questioned how we could overcome this
seemingly awesome task. Was there some way to measure each land
army in order to give both the decisionmaker and the soldier in the
field the information each desired at a glance? More important,
could we develop a spectrum of armies that would allow comparison
of each army to all the others of the world?
The decisionmaker needs condensed information at his fingertips
and the background details when required. The planner needs
something more so that he can determine appropriate force
composition; the soldier in the field needs knowledge of the
overall capability of the enemy. A further requirement is that all
this information must be user-friendly and readily accessible on
platforms with which the vast majority of the users are familiar.
Defining the Threat
In response to these challenges, the National Ground
Intelligence Center (NGIC) is developing an automated threat model
called the Land Capabilities Spectrum Model (LCSM). It replaces the
Cold War paradigm of threat analysis to capture the full spectrum
of potential adversaries' military capabilities the future threats
to Force XXI and the 21st century world. This model arrays
potential threats across a spectrum ranging from simple to complex
in scope, doctrine, organization, training, material, leadership,
and soldiers. LCSM will aid the intelligence consumer in evaluating
his situation regardless of the country, army, type of operation
involved, or changes in circumstances. The LCSM model evaluates
foreign ground force effectiveness and displays the result
The major assumption underlying the LCSM (previously called the
Threat Spectrum Model) is that analysts can sort the armies of the
world into a reasonable number of groups having similar properties.
The basis for this assumption is the mathematical discipline of
complexity. Key to understanding complexity is the notion that
interactions between the entities composing a system dictate the
behavior of a complex system, not the composition of the entities
themselves. These interactions occur at the threshold of stability
and chaos, the edge of chaos. Further, the interactions are
nonlinear: the whole is not equal to the sum of the parts. A
manifestation of nonlinear systems is that we can amplify small
changes in initial conditions so that they markedly affect the
behavior of the entire system across national borders and cause the
system as a whole to exhibit what is termed "emergent behavior."
Emergent behavior consists of unanticipated actions exhibited by
the system; once observed, however, these actions become routine.
There seems to be a fundamental characteristic of nature that
systems composed of interacting elements naturally and inevitably
evolve to a critical state the edge of chaos. This is the theory of
self-organized criticality. Self-organized criticality is
observable in many natural settings such as earthquakes, economic
systems, and even biological systems. This implies that
mathematically, we may observe emergent behavior.
The LCSM approaches the problem both from the top down and the
bottom up. The overall construct provides a view of the relative
capabilities of the world's ground forces at a glance (top down),
while its underlying structure leading to self-consistency, in
accordance with the principle of self-organized criticality, is
seen from the bottom up. This approach transforms information
about ground forces into knowledge-at-a-glance.
Terms of reference (TORs) have been developed to define and
normalize the exact definition of a certain level of
capability,which serves to standardize the rating system. The LCSM
breaks down the TORs into various factors.
Analysts define each factor and establish 10 levels within
each factor (with 10 representing the greatest capability and 1 the
least capability). The TOR not only defines each term and level
but also constitutes a useful tutorial document that explains what
it means to have certain levels of capability. (Figure 2 shows a
sample LCSM computer screen defining capability levels.) With more
than 200 land armies in the world, the job of staying current on
all these armies is difficult and the documentation sets a de facto
standard as the focus changes from country to country. In the
process of building the inputs to the LCSM, the analyst rates
each country against the TORs. For each factor, the analyst must to
write a short explanation of why a country received a rating at a
particular level within each factor of the TOR.
The LCSM developers then consolidated raw ratings from the 14
factors of the TOR and applied them against the mathematical model.
This produces a military capability potential (MCP) value. This
nonlinear value allows one to rank the countries by their composite
capabilities. It should be noted that analysts weighted the various
factors of the TOR relative to each other; the user can change the
weighting if deemed necessary. The MCP comprises 10 levels, and the
levels place the rated countries along the spectrum by level (see
Figure 3 for a capability and complexity spectrum). In essence, the
LCSM allows one to take seemingly independent factors and integrate
them into an aggregate military capability. At the present time,
the 14 TOR factors allow us to measure the MCP at a single slice of
time. A predictive capability is under development.
The LCSM provides a user-friendly way to identify military
capability potential around the globe. The model gives the user
analytic evaluations, charts, and a color-coded world map showing
overall military capability, troop strengths, and a selection of
the 14 critical factors in a nation's military posture. The LCSM
runs on a laptop computer and gives users full access to
documentation on all of the features, mathematics, and terms of
reference used in the model. It also provides validated country
assessments and lets the user make what if changes to see the
impact of changing conditions on a given country or the balance of
power in a region or across the globe.
- Command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence,
and electronic warfare.
- Maneuver forces.
- Combined arms.
- Joint and combined operations.
- Technology base.
- Fire support.
- Air defense.
- External threat.
- Internal threat.
- Military human factors.
- Combat engineering.
- Sustainability and logistics.
Depicting the Threat
The LCSM provides a number of graphs and charts to assist
decisionmakers in analyzing change. Charts include two-country
comparisons of historic timelines and two-country raw-capability
comparisons. There are also graphs showing, among other things,
the propensity for disorder within a country and a visual
comparison of military capability potential with the size of the
force. All the graphs and charts automatically detect user changes
to the ratings and give warnings when modified data have been used
in a chart or calculation.
The graphics provide an easy-to-understand visualization of
each country's MCP while the ready access to the terms of reference
provides a yardstick for assessing change in a dynamic world. The
LCSM is the first tool that visually demonstrates the effect of
technology-base upgrades, changing economic conditions, perceived
threats, and military acquisitions on the global balance of power.
The LCSM gives a powerful new capability to strategic planners and
others who need quick updates on a rapidly changing world.
We will expand the LCSM in the future to include additional
factors such as stability and support operations (non-war military
operations), non-state factors (international terrorism,
international crime, and drug cartels), and factors of national
culture, and even phenomenology. The LCSM will include these
because it considers scenario-dependent factors. In addition, there
is great interest in developing air and naval models for eventual
incorporation in a joint model.
The LCSM tightly combines technical intelligence and general
military intelligence assessments into a single model that provides
a broad, integrated view of the world. U.S. forces must be ready to
deal with a richness and variety of threats that in the past either
did not exist or were of less importance than the traditional
monolithic threat. Understanding this new world order requires a
different perspective. The LCSM is the frontrunner in dealing with
this new paradigm by evaluating ground force effectiveness and
graphically displaying the resultant data for answers at a glance.
Dr. Schlussel is Chief of the Battlefield Electronics
Division in the NGIC (formerly Foreign Science and Technology
Center or FSTC). He is a certified manufacturing engineer in the
field of robotics. He serves in the Air Force Reserves, teaching at
the Joint Military Intelligence College. Dr. Schlussel has a
bachelor of science (BS) degree from the Virginia Military
Institute, a master of Applied Mathematics from the University of
Virginia, a master of science (MS) in Engineering Management from
the University of Dayton, and a doctor of philosopy (Ph.D.) degree
in Applied Mathematics. He has been a Director of Central
Intelligence (DCI) Exceptional Analyst and received the FSTC
Commander's Award for Leadership. Readers can reach Dr. Schlussel
at (804) 980-7442 or DSN 934-7442.
Mr. Farmer is currently a physical scientist in the NGIC
Battlefield Electronics Division and works directly with
development of the LCSM; previously he worked as a chemical officer
and chemical analyst. He has a BS in Chemistry from Marshall
University and an MS in Organic Chemistry from West Virginia
University. He has also been a DCI Exceptional Analyst. You can
contact him at (804) 980-7883, DSN 934-7883, or E-mail
Mr. Zimmerman is an NGIC intelligence research specialist
specializing in command, control, and communications. He is a
military retiree and has worked in imagery analysis, technical
intelligence, and computer-aided drawing. He has a BS in Behavioral
Science from the University of Maryland and is a graduate of the
Senior Enlisted Intelligence Program. Readers can communicate with
Mr. Zimmerman at (804) 980-7848, DSN 934-7848, or E-mail