Special Commentary: Memorandum for SECDEF: Restore “Shock” in Strategic Planning
- Mr. Nathan P. Freier, Robert Hume, John Schaus
- Content Type
- Commentary and Analysis
- The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
- The Department of Defense (DOD) needs to re-institutionalize horizon scanning for
“strategic shock” and integrate this perspective into its strategy, plans, and risk assessment.
Defense-relevant “strategic shocks” are disruptive, transformational events for DOD. Though
their precise origin and nature are uncertain, strategic shocks often emerge from clear trends.
Shocks are often recognized in advance on some level but are nonetheless “shocking” because
they are largely ignored.
Too often, rapid strategic shock catches the DOD off guard because leadership fails to
account for it. To be sure, accounting for shock is a value judgment. Many may actually see what
ultimately becomes a shock well in advance. However, readying for shock requires leadership to
understand a contingency event’s potential for strategic-level hazard. Failing that, and once
confronted with shock, leadership frequently mischaracterizes it as defying reasonable
prediction and prior planning.
- Armed Forces, Army, COVID-19, Strategic Planning
- Political Geography
- North America, United States of America