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The purpose of the weekly assignments is to improve your ability to critique selected
defense reports, studies and briefings. They will help us to help you to quickly grasp the analytical foundation of any work, evaluate it, and to offer your views on it-· the key steps in critical thinking about defense analyses.
Because any defense leader-or any leader, for that matter-has limited time to spend on individual issues, a good critique must be succinct and dispassionate. Thus, your critiques are limited to 300 words. Good critiques are lean, crisp and, above all, illuminating. Good critiques also stand on their own-not requiring the reader to be intimately familiar with the analysis.
The following will help you get started:
After reading the work, and before you begin to write, try to fit the analysis into proper context. Keep in mind the setting in which a decision maker-the analysis’s and its critique’s consumer-will view the work.
Next, identify the key assumptions that underlie The work Identify them explicitly (sometimes the author will help you), and decide the degree to which you agree or disagree to which you agree or disagree substantially with any particular assumptions, note why.
Identify alternative assumptions, if appropriate and possible. Pose at least one competitor assumption (usually, one you’d prefer), and contrast its viability.
If the work is not current, make an issue of it only if new information has become available that refutes the work. (It is generally most appropriate to view the work from the time perspective when it was done.)
If important facts are incorrect –especially if they influence the results of the analysis –
identify and correct them. If other evidence or facts were omitted, characterize and add
Finally, decide whether or the author’s conclusions flow from the works logic and evidence. If not jot down why not.
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