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Strategic Resiliency: How to Understand Civil Society's Breaking Points



In the dynamic landscape of international relations, understanding and leveraging the “Strategic Resiliency” of civil societies is paramount for maintaining stability, preventing the collapse of partner nations, and gaining an advantage in great power competition. This blog introduces a novel definition of resiliency, emphasizing a multi-layered approach to assessing stress factors and determining breaking points. The integration of technology and monitoring for metric assessment emerges as a crucial component in decision-making processes. By identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in partner nations, diplomats and military strategists can proactively prevent state failure, foster stronger alliances and gain a competitive edge in global affairs. Resiliency is only important if you are willing to test it and have a system that can measure the layers appropriately in order to take action and make a decision for greater stability.


The concept of “Strategic Resiliency” encompasses the ability of civil societies to withstand and recover from internal and external stressors. Traditional approaches often overlook the multi-dimensional nature of stress factors that influence the stability of nations. This blog introduces a comprehensive understanding of resiliency, emphasizing the need for advanced technological tools to assess metrics and monitor stress points effectively. Additionally, there are stressors that can be handled in timeframes but waiting too long creates an unsustainable situation that will fail.


Redefining Resiliency


Strategic Resiliency

Strategic Resiliency refers to a comprehensive, multi-level methodology designed to assess, comprehend, simulate, and forecast the magnitude of stress that can impact various facets of a civil environment. It encompasses a strategic framework that systematically evaluates identified vulnerabilities within a society, facilitating predictive analysis for decision-makers. In the context of this concept, it delineates the ability of a civil society to absorb and adapt to stressors spanning political, economic, social, educational, and security domains.


This approach recognizes the interdependence of these layers, offering a nuanced perspective on a nation's stability. By acknowledging the intricate connections between different sectors, Strategic Resiliency allows for a holistic understanding of potential vulnerabilities and breakpoints, enabling proactive measures to enhance overall societal robustness and adaptive capacity.


The Multi-Layered Approach


Political Resiliency

Political stability is a cornerstone of a resilient society. However, political systems often face challenges such as corruption, governance issues, and external interference. Utilizing technology to monitor political landscapes can provide real-time insights into potential vulnerabilities, enabling diplomatic efforts to address issues before they escalate. Political stability is the state's internal capability to hold governmental processes and elections or being able to transfer governments peacefully. The ability to meet the needs of its people, provide a nationalistic approach and their ability to ensure dissent is addressed are all keys to understanding stability. Measuring strategic resilience will mean monitoring the people’s sentiment towards their government. Sometimes sentiment and disgruntlement are not based off factual information, but it is a form of unstable behavior that could be caused by external or internal factors. Sometimes media sources can sway a public's viewpoint towards issues that may not be factual information. Regardless of whether the information is true or not, if the people's sentiment becomes negative against the government this can provide the context for conflict. One way to assess political resiliency is to look at the ability for a government to maintain power over a sustained period of time.


Economic Resiliency

Economic stability is a key indicator of a nation's resiliency. Rapid economic fluctuations, currency devaluation, and high unemployment rates can strain societies. Advanced analytics and economic modeling can help predict economic stressors, allowing for timely interventions to stabilize economies and prevent cascading failures. Traditionally a strong middle class is one of the key components of a healthy economic model. Monitoring both historical trends and current economics can become an indicator for predictive analysis. Often the economy is a key driver of instability between the citizens and their government. In great powers competition economic stability is a key factor prior to conflict that establishes relationships between countries and can be weaponized to gain an advantage over competitors. Their underlying economic advantages are hard to undo once agreements are signed and can have long-term consequences. Monitoring economics in a detailed and layered approach enables strategic leaders to identify signs of instability in the economy and prevent catastrophe in the economic realm.


Social Resiliency

Social cohesion is vital for a resilient society. Ethnic tensions, cultural divides, and social inequalities can erode stability. Technological tools, such as social media analytics, can offer valuable insights into emerging social challenges, which facilitates targeted interventions to address underlying issues and promote unity. Using disgruntlement and grievances within society is one way that states will try to create conflict in their competitors. Historically, from Russia and Ukraine, to Iran’s involvement in Lebanon, there is a danger and the manipulation of the social fabric towards this behavior. Because information is so readily available using the Internet and other media sources there is a constant flow of misinformation that can be harmful if not addressed correctly. The great competitors that the West faces currently including Russia, China, and Iran, all exhibit major efforts towards creating division within ethnic and societal arenas in the West.


Security Resiliency

A nation's security apparatus plays a pivotal role in its resiliency. Threats from terrorism, insurgency, or external aggression can weaken a society's foundations. Advanced surveillance technologies and intelligence analysis can aid in identifying security vulnerabilities, enabling preemptive measures to thwart potential destabilization. The security of a nation begins with its military, but also must look at the complete internal security portion between the trust of its citizens, the border of its country, and the ability to have a judicial system and security apparatus that is fair regardless of ethnicity.


The Role of Technology


Metric Assessment

Advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can process vast amounts of information to create comprehensive metrics for each layer of resiliency. By quantifying stress factors and their potential impact, decision-makers gain a more nuanced understanding of a nation's vulnerabilities. ISAAC-ISR (International Security Assessment & Analytics Capability – Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance), is an advanced tool that is currently monitoring the civil environment using a doctrinal approach from JP-3.07 and the Peace Keeping Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) for the Department of Defense and some interagency partners. This has shown a great ability to understand complex ratios within a civil environment and identify key areas that should be looked at to prevent failed states.


Real-time Monitoring

Continuous monitoring through technology allows for the identification of emerging trends and potential breaking points. This real-time information enables diplomats and military strategists to respond swiftly to evolving situations, preventing the escalation of crises. A key component is the ability to define information and actions requests in the system so that you can be alerted immediately when the requested information is found. This saves many man hours and time. Providing references so that information can be validated ensures the accuracy, reliability, and credibility of the information.


In great powers competition it is the ability to see first, understand first, decide first, act first, assess first and finally reassess that is the key to decisive action. Ensuring real time monitoring is essential, but so is the ability to distribute the necessary information to the proper organization or people in a timely manner.


Predictive Modeling

Utilizing technology for predictive modeling enables the anticipation of future stressors and breaking points. This proactive approach empowers decision-makers to implement preventive measures, mitigating risks and building long-term stability. In the realm of strategic resiliency, harnessing technology for predictive analysis of the civil environment is pivotal. Advanced data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning play crucial roles in processing vast datasets to identify patterns, trends, and potential stressors across political, economic, social, and security dimensions. By employing predictive modeling, decision-makers can anticipate emerging challenges and potential breaking points, allowing for proactive and targeted interventions. Real-time monitoring through sophisticated technologies enables the continuous assessment of dynamic situations, facilitating swift responses to evolving circumstances. Additionally, the integration of geospatial technology and satellite imagery enhances the accuracy of predictive analysis by providing a comprehensive view of on-the-ground conditions. This technology-driven approach not only aids in preventing crises but also empowers diplomats and military strategists to shape resilient civil societies, contributing to long-term stability and global security.


Implications for Great Power Competition


In the context of great power competition, the ability to assess and exploit the breaking points of competitors becomes a strategic advantage. By leveraging technology to gain insights into the vulnerabilities of rival nations, diplomatic and military strategies can be tailored to exploit weaknesses and weaken the adversary's position on the global stage. Understanding and proactively addressing a nation's breaking points is not only a diplomatic imperative but also a strategic advantage in great power competition. By preventing partner nations from becoming failed states, nations can foster stronger alliances, enhance regional stability, and gain a competitive edge over rivals.


“Strategic Resiliency”, defined as the ability of civil societies to withstand stress across political, economic, social, and security layers, offers a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing breaking points. The integration of technology for metric assessment and real-time monitoring is essential for effective decision-making in diplomatic and military contexts. By preventing partner nations from becoming failed states and gaining a competitive advantage in great power competition, nations can shape a more stable and secure global landscape.


If you would like to stay updated with the ISAAC-ISR program or Strategic Resilience – a new DOD/Interagency approach, let me know at tony.thacker@i3solutions.com and we will add you to the ISAAC newsletter list. ISAAC-ISR is in phase 2 testing and will be a program of record within the next 12 months.


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