The Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) is the analysis portion of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) process. The CBA provides recommendations to pursue material or non-material solutions to an identified capability gap that meets an established capability need. The result is that the CBA supports the development of operational capability requirements documents (Initial Capabilities Document) in the defense acquisition system.
Definition: The Capabilities Based Assessment (CBA) identifies operational capability requirements and associated capability gaps.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Purpose
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 complete the mission or activities successfully.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Objectives
The main objectives of the CBA and the analysis that is performed are to:
- Define the mission;
- Identify capabilities required;
- Determine the attributes/standards of the capabilities;
- Identify gaps;
- Assess the operational risk associated with the gaps;
- Prioritize the gaps;
- Identify and assess potential non-material solutions;
- Conduct an initial assessment of the viability of the potential approaches or solutions;
- Provide recommendations for (non-material or material) addressing the gaps.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Goal
The goal of the CBA is to define the operational framework and the Combatant Commander’s priorities sufficiently to guide the development of alternative material and sustainment solutions. It should also provide affordability advice to the Planning, Programming, Budget, and Execution (PPBE) Process.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Guide
The CBA user guide is the first place anyone should start when assigned to conducting a CBA. The guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct a CBA and what is needed.
Handbook: USAF Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA)
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Analysis
The CBA analysis contains the Functional Area Analysis (FAA), Functional Needs Analysis (FNA), and Functional Solutions Analysis (FSA). This analysis provides the traceability between strategic guidance, operational missions, Service and Joint Concepts, Concepts of Operation (CONOPS), Service-approved threat products, capability requirements, and capability solutions.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) in the JCIDS Process
The JCIDS analysis process leads to an approved Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) which is built upon the CBA. The CBA does not provide specific recommendations as to a particular material solution but rather provides a more general recommendation as to the type of material solution (such as an Information Technology system, incremental improvement to an existing capability, or an entirely new “breakout” or other transformational capabilities). In this way, the ICD can be used to establish boundary conditions for the scope of alternatives to be considered in the subsequent Analysis of Alternatives (AoA).
Figure: JCIDS Process within the Defense Acquisition System Phases/Milestones 
Main Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Strategic Guidance Documents
All CBAs are based on a framework of strategic guidance documents. The National Security Strategy (NSS), the National Strategy for Homeland Defense, the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and the National Military Strategy (NMS)provide the overarching description of the Nation’s defense interests, objectives, and priorities. In addition, the Guidance for the Development of the Force, the Guidance for the Employment of the Force, and the most recent Quadrennial Defense Review Report contain further refinement of objectives and priorities and help provide a framework for a CBA. (JCIDS Manual Enclosure A)
AcqLinks and Resources:
- CJCS Instruction 5123.01 “Charter Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) and Implementation of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)”
-  CJCS Instruction 3170.01 “Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System”
- Guide: Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Users Guide, Version 3
- Guide: Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) Users Guide, Version 2
- Handbook: USAF Capabilities-Based Assessment Handbook 12-Dec-2017
- Manual for the Operations of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)
- JCIDS Process Flow Chart