Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 45

EMERGING COMPLEXITY to our shores. We stand at the cusp of sweeping global change that will forever affect the nature of our culture and, perhaps, the fiber and character of our people. In the contemporary national security environment, there are many complex dynamic pressures and conditions to consider and overcome. These pressures will intensify as the world becomes increasingly interconnected. The dynamics of convergence, the coming together of many conditions and events, and emergence, the development of continuing concerns and new challenges out of the entirety of the circumstances we face, give rise to a difficult collective security context. New challenges require new solutions. Our goal must be to find new strategies to effectively deal with this problematic situation and implement whatever modifications or outright changes are required to meet future challenges. We ignore the reality of this new condition at our peril. Challenges of the Information Environment A large amount of information, in numerous forms, comes into our “organizational–cognitive–decision management” sphere in a constant flow of ever-changing qualities and substance. Timelines are short, geospatial interests are global, speed and tempo are rapid, and operational context is conditional and circumstantial. Intent is often hidden, and meaning is not clear. Deception is in play. In this complex, contemporary information environment, unless we can somehow achieve selective understanding and parsing of the dynamic parts and engender complete fusion of all sources, methods, and processes of information, we are very likely to experience cognitive and operational uncertainty—and failure. We cannot hope to succeed without focused and deliberate efforts to improve our information processes, including analysis and synthesis required to achieve knowledge and understanding that can empower coherent action, out of the chaos of the information tornado. The many interacting (converging and emerging) elements of information, including all sources, hazards, enemies, and conditions, require a much broader and more dense body of data and, at the same time, a more specific approach to building a viable national security knowledge base than we have had before. In the past, a variety of events and actions were often viewed discretely—in the context of time, space (area), speed and tempo, topical impact, and other related MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 conditions. In some cases, we may not have known when intentions or events were formed or when they occurred, and their interrelationships were not apparent. Thus, our approach to dealing with them was dispersed and divergent. We may also have misperceived them or wrongly assessed them because of faulty information, time lag, dissimilarity, or even flawed preconceptions or biases. We may not have perceived any convergence. We focused on what we could cognitively manage. Inadvertent change sometimes occurred through selective disregard of some events—either because they were assessed to be unimportant, or because they seemed less urgent than other events—and so their management was left to a later time. In some cases, events were wrongly assessed as positive and constructive and placed in a different context, not dealt with as problems or threats. The resulting effects changed the contextual perception and the substantial form of the point of convergence and resulting confluence. This change was sometimes very rapid and so dramatic that both the perception and the actual form or condition of those events changed as a direct result. We sought a “logic thread” (links and connections) between and among the various forces of change and the events that were manifest of those forces, attempting to understand them and their relationships in order to better control and respond to conditions and, where possible, to preclude an event through anticipatory (predictive) acti on. We seldom succeeded, and we often told ourselves that we failed because of the complexity of the challenges we faced. Convergence The “new” premise is that, in the contemporary and anticipated future environment, there are many near-concurrent forces (intentions and events) at work that affect ambient conditions. These forces collectively converge at some political, economic, military, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, public safety, security, and societal point. At this point of convergence, the collective effect, the synergy of these forces, is greater— much greater in some cases—than the mere sum of their singular effects. The figure below provides a real-world example of convergence. Convergence is a nonlinear dynamic event, and the point of convergence is very complex and concentrated. One can postulate that the nature of the resulting 43