Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 47

EMERGING COMPLEXITY Great Complexity Remains The premise that many enemies—nation-state military as well as other applicable entities like substate actors, terrorists, or criminals—have relied upon is to create cognitive and computational dissonance (an inability to comprehend and effectively apply computational tools resulting from a complex and often misperceived or mischaracterized condition). This raises an idea or action seemingly out of the blue, frequently in an asymmetric and asynchronous nonlinear way, and sometimes confounds our best analytic efforts and clouds our perceptions. The propensity of our enemies to act in the context of surprise is one of our greatest security challenges. Its operational construct is nearly always found in emergence. We cannot hope to effectively apply the countering elements of national, state, and local capability unless we can somehow foresee the true nature of our opponents and their intentions and actions. After achieving dynamic contextual understanding and developing knowledge—both continuous activities— we can develop a view of the forces of change and their net effect, and we can perceive their interrelationships and functional importance. If we can discern intent or accurately perceive likely courses of action, we may even be able to avoid the often-mentioned “unanticipated consequences” that have so frequently plagued us in the past. Working with and taking advantage of this newly developed knowledge and understanding should bring greater clarity and sharper focus to the imposing issues and challenges at hand. Our goals should be to reduce or see through complexity, to achieve synergy of understanding (the ability to connect and magnify the effects of points of knowledge and insight), and to develop viable responses and solutions to complex problems and conditions. Besides using surprise, our enemies will continue to engage us using several different forms of conflict (e.g., hybrid warfare, unconventional crime, cyberwarfare and cybercrime, terrorism without traditional form, and weapons with mass and complex effects). The application of warfare and other forms of violence or crime (with national security impact) to achieve change will continue to occur, despite our best efforts to reduce it or end it. Options such as diplomacy or collegial international cooperation are worthwhile responses and hold some hope for the future. However, it is apparent that rogue groups, individuals, subnational entities, and criminals whose actions have a significant impact continue to exist, along with a few nation-states that do not share the same values MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 or participate in the community of nations as positive contributors to stability and peace. There is no magic antidote for this global infection. We must be prepared to fight against these enemies with appropriate force. Any future national security challenges, no matter what form they may take, are likely to include interwoven conditions and circumstances, and new organizational structures that we may not yet fully understand. Modern communications and data processing, along with the visionary efforts of our enemies, will enable this. It seems unlikely that even the best of people—using only their natural cognitive abilities—can achieve the knowledge base, insight, and understanding needed to reduce complexity, achieve greater clarity, and develop viable solutions to today’s complex problems. We need a set of tools, processes, and procedures, and the policies and support necessary to achieve solutions. Without them we will be overwhelmed. Solutions Solutions to some problems will be possible—others are likely to be persistent and insoluble. However, there are some obvious things we need that are achievable now with the right focus. We need better practical understanding of complexity and complex conditions. This can be accomplished by providing education and training for key personnel that will prepare them for the conditions extant and those that will develop. We need tools, processes, and policies that will assist with handling complex conditions and circumstances. This includes advanced computational applications and artificial intelligence that will assist the human-in-the-loop. We need a focused national effort to determine the right applications for the science and theory of the body of knowledge about complex systems and conditions. And, we need facilities and mechanisms to support this vital work. We need a future orientation that will provide us with the right focus to develop foresight to meet the next challenges. In order to achieve this precursor to success, we need the best minds and the greatest of human spirits to develop national and allied capabilities. As a practical matter, we will also need continuous persistent global awareness; commensurate information-gathering presence and access, analysis, synthesis, • • • • • 45