Known Unknowns: Unconventional 'Strategic Shocks' in Defense Strategy Development   [open pdf - 507KB]

"This timely PKSOI Paper on unconventional strategic shock provides the defense policy team a clear warning against excessive adherence to past defense and national security convention. Including the insights of a number of noted scholars on the subjects of 'wild cards' and 'strategic surprise,' the author, Nathan Freier, argues that future disruptive, unconventional shocks are inevitable. Through strategic impact and potential for disruption and violence, defense-relevant unconventional shocks, in spite of their nonmilitary character, will demand the focused attention of defense leadership, as well as the decisive employment of defense capabilities in response. As a consequence, Mr. Freier makes a solid case for continued commitment by the Department of Defense to prudent strategic hedging against their potential occurrence. […]. The current defense team confronted a gamechanging 'strategic shock' in its first 8 months in office. The next team would be well-advised to expect the same. Defense-relevant strategic shocks jolt convention to such an extent that they force sudden, unanticipated change in the Department of Defense's (DoD) perceptions about threat, vulnerability, and strategic response. Their unanticipated onset forces the entire defense enterprise to reorient and restructure institutions, employ capabilities in unexpected ways, and confront challenges that are fundamentally different than those routinely considered in defense calculations."

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