A U.S. government-financed report asserted that the United States couldâ€¨face a series of unexpected crises that would rival the al- Qaida terror attacks inâ€¨2001, termed a “strategic shock.” The report by the U.S. Army War College’sâ€¨Strategic Institute cited the prospect of the collapse of a nuclear state toâ€¨massive unrest in the United States.
“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force theâ€¨defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basicâ€¨domestic order and human security,” the report, authored by retired Lt. Col.â€¨Nathan Freir, said.
Continued On Page 8 “Deliberate employment of weapons of mass destruction orâ€¨other catastrophic capabilities, unforeseen economic collapse, loss ofâ€¨functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance orâ€¨insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic naturalâ€¨and human disasters are all paths to disruptive domestic shock.”
Titled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defenseâ€¨Strategy Development,” the report warned that the U.S. military andâ€¨intelligence community remain mired in the past as well as the need toâ€¨accommodate government policy. Lt. Col. Freier, a former Pentagon official, said thatâ€¨despite the al-Qaida surprise in 2001, U.S. defense strategy and planningâ€¨remain trapped by “excessive convention.”
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“The current administration confronted a game-changing ‘strategic shock’â€¨inside its first eight months in office,” the report said. “The nextâ€¨administration would be well-advised to expect the same during the course ofâ€¨its first term. Indeed, the odds are very high against any of the challengesâ€¨routinely at the top of the traditional defense agenda triggering the nextâ€¨watershed inside DoD (Department of Defense).”
The report cited the collapse of what Lt. Col. Freier termed “a large capableâ€¨state that results in a nuclear civil war.” Such a prospect could lead toâ€¨uncontrolled weapons of mass destruction proliferation as well as a nuclearâ€¨war.
The report cited the prospect of a breakdown of order in the Unitedâ€¨States. Lt. Col. Freier said the Pentagon could be suddenly forced to recall troopsâ€¨from abroad to fight domestic unrest.
“An American government and defense establishment lulled intoâ€¨complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidlyâ€¨divest some or most external security commitments in order to addressâ€¨rapidly expanding human insecurity at home,” the report said.
The report said the United States could also come under pressure from aâ€¨hostile state with control over insurgency groups. Such a hostile state couldâ€¨force American decisionmakers into a desperate response.
“The United States might also consider the prospect that hostile stateâ€¨and/or nonstate actors might individually or in concert combine hybridâ€¨methods effectively to resist U.S. influence in a nonmilitary manner,” theâ€¨report said. “This is clearly an emerging trend.”
Another scenario was the collapse of what Lt. Col. Freier termed “a large capableâ€¨state that results in a nuclear civil war.” Such a prospect could lead toâ€¨uncontrolled weapons of mass destruction proliferation as well as a nuclearâ€¨war.
“The aforementioned are admittedly extreme,” the report said. “They areâ€¨not, however, implausible or fantastical.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.