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Operations Research Analyst – Crucial Role in National Security

by Jackson B

Operations research is a field that deals primarily with the use of modern analytic methods to assist make better choices in any operating environment. The phrase operational research has become synonymous with special operations and may also be used to describe the process by which military operations are planned, executed and managed. Operating inside of a structured set of rules and procedures is important to the success of any military operation, but there are several other considerations for any given military operation. This branch of study is concerned with more than just choosing the right equipment or tactics; it also deals with determining how best to operate within such a structured environment.

One way to categorize operational research is according to its focus. In most circles, operations research is thought of as having three main aspects; strategic, tactical and operational. Strategic operations research deals with how to implement policies and missions based on the needs of the United States Department of Defense. The quarterly journal of the operations research society focuses on the area of strategic operations research.

Tactical operations research deals mainly with training, equipping, and deploying the forces. It focuses on the employment of mathematical modeling and analytical methods in supporting this operational need. Other areas of focus for the quarterly journal include weapon systems, planning, information operations, human-centric design, surveillance, operational logistics, non-lethal weapons and networking.

Official journals, published by the United States Joint Staff, deal mostly with operational operations research. A major goal of the official journal is to provide regular reporting of events, developments and accomplishments of the Department of Defense. Other objectives of the journal are to review major initiatives and to provide explanations for why they were undertaken and why they failed. Official journals also specialize in specific topics such as psychological assessments, sexual assault assessments and others.

Operations Research Analysts (ORAs) are one type of operations research analyst employed by the United States Department of Defense. An ORA is primarily employed by the combatant departments in support of mission requirements. Other branches of the military such as the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Army also have operations research analysts. An ORA is required to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field such as mathematics, business or computer science. Prior to becoming an ORA, most ORAs undergo rigorous training and college-level courses on strategic, operational and mathematical skills.

The Strategic Analysis Processes, commonly referred to as the SAP, is a strategic planning initiative within the United States Department of Defense. A description of this process can be found in the United States Naval Service Revolving Management System Guidebook. Strategic analysis processes begin with a “ground work” using surveys, interviews and other forms of inquiry to acquire data on current policy issues, needs, threats, vulnerabilities and opportunities. From this point, a more in-depth strategic review is conducted to generate a set of recommended policy changes that meet the desired objectives for the United States. After thorough review, these recommendations are formally approved and put into execution. The operational analysis process continues through a series of reviews and evaluations to assure that the new policy is effective, and meets the desired goals and objectives of the United States Navy.

Operations research and management science careers combine many of the fundamental skills required to conduct successful operations. These core skills include information systems, human-centered design, complex decision analysis, technical intelligence, strategic management, and computer science. Combining these core skills with other disciplines such as mathematics, business, engineering, science and other areas of study creates a unique profile that allows an ORTA to leverage his or her expertise to solve problems. Operations research analysts are a critical part of the success of any navy, Marine Corps, Army or Air Force.

Interested parties can pursue a career as an operations research analyst working for a defense agency. Employment opportunities are increasing because of both the increasing demand for this highly skilled position in the defense industry, and the world war ii. The future for this field is excellent due to the ever growing need in military and government agencies for these highly skilled professionals. Finding a Defense Agency that will hire you to fill an operations research analyst position may be challenging, but with the right recruiter, you should have no problem finding a job.


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