Advancing Resilience Theory and Tools to Combat Environmental Surprise
David Alderson | Naval Postgraduate School
This project will develop theory and novel tools for improved assessment, planning, and investment of Department of Defense (DoD) infrastructure resources to enhance resilience, sustainment, and mission assurance in the presence of climate extremes and surprises that challenge system function. While best practices for military infrastructure currently follow principles of reliability and risk, these are—by necessity—based on knowledge of past events. They are not suited to adapt infrastructure to dramatic change and/or future surprising events. This project will complement current approaches by predicating investigative techniques on a theory of resilience that emphasizes adaptive response to surprise. This project will advance this theory to develop an investigative method and technology platform for vulnerability analysis, simulation, and wargame exercises with "realistic, yet fictitious" infrastructure systems set in a virtual simulation world to assess and improve the capacity of military installations to adapt to surprise. Based on longstanding work at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), this platform will be shareable and extensible to classroom and operational settings. Moreover, the project team will target this experiential learning platform at military officers and government employees in two groups: 1) NPS students in operations research, national security affairs, and security studies, and 2) practitioners in installation and infrastructure planning.
The technical approach is organized in three integrated thrusts focused on the development of theory and frameworks for measuring resilience, advances in tools for simulating surprise, and experiential learning with wargaming and case studies. Research tasks for Thrust 1 advance measures of resilience by linking sensing, anticipating, adapting, and learning processes with established theories of surprise from military history and the intelligence community. Thrust 2 builds on Thrust 1 to add new features and gaming capacities to an established training tool called Dystopia to create a platform for investigating how military practitioners respond to surprising climate stressors. Thrust 3 builds on Thrust 2 to develop novel training and wargaming capacities to assess and improve expertise in responding to surprise events. Together, this project advances a deeper understanding of resilience while building the tools and methods to assess and improve resilience across military installations.
The research outputs of this project will benefit DoD officers, military installations, and the broader homeland security and research community. This project will provide a platform for DoD education and training by supporting master’s theses for active military students at NPS and advancing Dystopia as a novel tool for learning about resilience in NPS classrooms. Several NPS master’s thesis will result of this work, leading to direct impact on DoD operations as graduates reenter their respective service. Development of the Dystopia tool will also leverage longstanding work at the NPS to train experts in homeland security and reach broader classroom and operational settings. The broader DoD community will also receive benefit as the project team will target experiential learning at military officers and government employees. Finally, advances in Dystopia will be made shareable and extensible to enable open source methods for studying resilience in non-military settings.