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National Security

The Use and Abuse of Models in International Security

Some days just appear to have a theme that constantly nags or colors everything that happens. It happens that yesterday was one of those days for me. I’m in the process of finishing up a project and I need to complete a book chapter on the validation of ABM based analysis for national security analysis. Importantly, the issue is less about the validation of the models themselves, and more concerned with whether or not analysts can use models for responsible inferences in support of decisionmaking. It also happened that the director of the Krasnow Institute where I work posted this on his own blog, and I came across this older piece in on the Wired website regarding some DARPA work that I’m familiar with. To add just a small piece more, a former government senior executive came to speak to my department yesterday about the challenges of ‘wicked problems’ in government, particularly in the design, development, and employment of new technologies and the difficulty of getting to work with the social structure of the government (building a new widget was rarely the difficult part). Read the rest of this entry »

Evolved Threat Wargame Observations

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the 4th and final wargame in a series examining the future of warfare. The game itself presented a fairly standard gaming scenario, which proved to be quite challenging given the likely capabilities of red (adversary) forces and the political situation that framed the conflict. Read the rest of this entry »

IIASA Workshop on Systemic Risk

I've just participated in a two day workshop in Vienna hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) called Security in the age of Systemic Risk: Tactics and Options for Dealing with Femtorisks and Beyond. This intimidating title masked the openness and interdisciplinary character of the workshop, which brought together a variety of scholars and practitioners working in the areas of complexity science, risk analysis, decision sciences, mathematics, and international relations, continuing the conceptual and community development that started in 2008 at the Santa Fe Institute looking at complexity and international relations. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: The National Security Enterprise

Roger George and Harvey Rishikof’s The National Security Enterprise: Navigating the Labyrinth is a unique book. It provides unprecedented breadth and depth regarding the organization and functions of the national security community, or national security enterprise (NSE) as the authors call it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of Usama Bin Laden Part 3

This is the third, and last posting about the killing of Usama Bin Laden (UBL) for a while (hopefully) before I return to more theoretical questions about arms races and modeling. Continuing my earlier posting, I believe there are many significant and complex issues that are just coming into focus and many more on the horizon regarding what comes next in US/Pakistan relations, the deterrence of terrorists, and the future of US strategy. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of Usama Bin Laden Part 2

It had been my intention to return to the development and exploration of the rock-paper-scissors model but the continuing news about Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL or OBL which appears to be the official spelling) death has me fascinated. After nearly a week’s passage, I’ve found several of the developments increasingly interesting and the number of issues at play continuously expanding. This is the first of two postings on the aftermath of the SEALs assault on UBL’s compound. Read the rest of this entry »

The Death of Usama Bin Laden

The news of Usama Bin Laden’s (UBL) death as a result of US military operations casts light on the successes, failures, and uncertainties in the War on Terror, Long War, or whatever names that people choose to attach to US military engagements in the aftermath of the 9/11/ attacks. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 2

This posting will examine some of the basic properties of a mathematical model of RPS implemented in Excel that employs the replicator equation as a way of examining the dynamics of innovation within arms races. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-Paper-Scissors and Arms Races Part 1

I have always been fascinated by military innovation and they ways in which individuals and organizations perceive and adapt to threats and opportunities in their environments. One of the important lessons from game theory, biology, and military history is the fragility of dominant positions – there is rarely a dominant strategy that trumps all possible options available to one’s adversaries. Read the rest of this entry »

Gender and National Security Decision-Making

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend today on the role of gender in national security decision-making. Her argument was that was that the world would be a more peaceful place if more women were in senior positions within the national security establishment. Read the rest of this entry »
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