Rapid Reaction Technology Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense

THE CHALLENGE

Sponsored by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Evolved Irregular Threat Project sought to assess the ability of the US Government to counter the current and likely future operational capabilities of armed non-state actors. Non-state and sub-state actors increasingly employ sophisticated tools and techniques to counter, or render ineffective, certain aspects of traditional military power. By developing or acquiring an increasingly broad spectrum of capabilities—many of which undercut traditional US military strengths and concepts of operations—these actors will continue to present significant national security challenges for the United States. Noetic was contracted by OSD to identify the range of existing and potential adversary capabilities in order to expose gaps that could inform future US military capability development.

WHAT NOETIC DID

Noetic employed several forms of analysis for this project. A desktop analysis of the tactics employed by several groups (including Hezbollah, Lashkar E-Taiba and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was used to produce a “tactical blueprint”, represented through detailed capability matrices and center of gravity analyses of likely future capabilities of non-state actors. Noetic then tested and validated the findings through four limited objective seminar wargames that played current and likely future adversary and friendly capabilities against each other in a measure-countermeasure dynamic at both the tactical and operational level of war. A capability analysis was developed that examined the effect of technological innovation by sub-state groups to close the gap between their capability gaps with conventional military forces. The diffusion and adoption of these technology trends to other similar groups was also considered.

THE BENEFITS

The final deliverables of the project—a capability gap analysis, a counter-proliferation agenda, and a tactical blueprint of ‘evolved threats’—provided a sound model for assessing the capabilities and vulnerabilities of non-state and sub-state actors as well as their implications for future US Government capability development. The project also provided a methodology for inexpensively but rigorously wargaming red and blue-team capabilities in an irregular warfare context.