With an increased defense budget on the horizon, it is important to keep in mind that we cannot spend our way to victory against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq or Syria. This was the logic behind owner George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees outspending their opponents, yet still losing to Billy Beane’s upstart Oakland A’s in 2002.
Similarly, when it comes to defeating violent groups such as ISIS, the military needs more “Moneyball” — that is, better data and metrics to assess what it means to achieve “victory.”
Like Michael Lewis’s bestseller, the book “Moneyball for Government” — edited by former Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directors Jim Nussle and Peter Orszag — made the case for using evidence to improve the outcomes of government programs in order to maximize the effectiveness of limited taxpayer dollars.
The same methodology can apply to the military and its war against ISIS to help avoid the massive waste of resources documented by U.S. auditors during past U.S.-led operations in Iraq. This requires a mix of both data-driven and intuitive (non-quantitative) assessments.
Image credit: Staff Sgt. Jason Hull, US Army