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Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA)

ARQM 002


A Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) analytic process. The CBA identifies capability requirements and associated capability gaps. Results of a CBA or other study provide the source material for one or more Initial Capabilities Documents (ICDs), or other JCIDS documents in certain cases when an ICD is not required.

Alternate Definition

The purpose of a CBA is to provide a robust assessment of a mission area, or similar bounded set of activities, to assess the capability and capacity of the joint force to successfully complete the mission or activities.

A CBA often leads to the identification of new or modified capability requirements and associated capability gaps. If the capability gaps represent significant operational risk to the joint force, then these capability requirements, along with recommendations for materiel and/or non-materiel approaches for closing or mitigating the capability gaps, may be submitted for staffing and validation by the appropriate validation authority.

The intent of a CBA may also be satisfied through one or more other studies or analyses, as long as the analytical rigor and breadth of analysis is covered by the collective analytical efforts. (JCIDS Manual (30 Oct 2021), Enclosure C, Appendix B, Annex B, p. C-B-B-1).

General Information

The analytical work conducted as part of a CBA provides the traceability between strategic guidance, operational missions, Service and Joint Concepts, CONOPS, threat products from the DIE, including but not limited to, requirements, and capability solutions.

A number of DoDAF views are to be used to capture results of a CBA, facilitating reuse in JCIDS documents, acquisition activities, and capability portfolio management.  When one or more studies or analyses are used in place of a CBA, the Sponsor may need to consolidate the data from those studies into a single set of DoDAF products appropriate for the scope of the ICD.

The Sponsor must determine the level of analytic rigor needed in a CBA. The rigor used in a CBA is a function of the complexity of the mission being assessed, the consequences of operational failure, and the uncertainties of the Support for Strategic Analysis (SSA) products and other supporting data considered.

When performing a CBA relative to a validated capability solution that may require replacement, recapitalization, or evolution to meet future requirements, the Sponsor is starting from a known baseline and making excursions to address potential future requirements. In this case a CBA should take no more than 60-90 calendar days to demonstrate that replacement, recapitalization, or evolution is required. While the decision to consider recapitalization of an existing capability solution may be driven by a capability gap or set of gaps, a CBA must also consider the entire set of tasks, conditions, and standards fulfilled by the capability solution.

When performing a CBA that addresses requirements most likely addressed through an IS solution, the CBA should take no more than 90 calendar days. The determination on whether a new IS will be required or if a fielded system can be evolved to meet the need will be further considered in the AoA or similar study.

When performing a CBA that is examining a new mission with a lot of uncertainty or complexity or is assessing the requirements for a new Service and Joint Concept, the risks and uncertainty drive the need for a more comprehensive CBA to determine if it is necessary to move to an evolution of a fielded capability solution or to pursue transformational capabilities to satisfy the requirements.

One CBA may address any of these alternatives. In any case, the maximum time allotted for a CBA should be no more than 180 calendar days, and the assessment should be tailored to meet this objective. The time allotted does not include the required time needed for staffing and approval by the Sponsor.

Organizing and executing a successful CBA and satisfying the demands of strategic guidance is a significant challenge. Consequently, a CBA addressing a broad mission area must be conducted with a robust joint team that can bring the necessary breadth of expertise to bear on the problem. 

(JCIDS Manual (30 Oct 2021), Enclosure C, Appendix B, Annex B, pages C-B-B-1 throough C-B-B-3