The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) Vision Working Group is recommending the establishment of a Center for Strategic Analysis and Assesment (CSAA) within the Executive Office of The President (EOP) in the White House. This center will use foresight tools among many others to improve this decision making process in the EOP. The following scenario explores the use of one of those tools, and because of the current climate, we are sharing this with you. An updated version of this scenario to reflect existing technological, operational and geo-political realities will be a part of an upcoming publication soon to be released by the PNSR.
The Vision Working Group leader, Dr. Sheila R. Ronis, wrote this in conjunction with supporting data from public sources. Her latest book "Timelines Into The Future: Strategic Visioning Methods For Government, Business, And Other Organizations" is available through the following link:
Future Defense Industry Scenarios’
By Sheila Ronis, Leader of the PNSR Vision Working Group
Wednesday, April 30, 2008; 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Hudson Institute, Betsy and Walter Stern Conference Center
1015 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Future scenarios such as this are designed to unlock the mind from its preconceptions in the hope of revealing undiscovered insights. This process can make some futures appear less plausible that have more or less been taken for granted, and prepare decision-makers to look for signs of likewise unexpected futures. To be clear: the goal is not to predict the future. Rather, it is to think about the future and to be better prepared for it as the future unpredictably unfolds
Weaknesses in our defense industrial base supply chain, dependency on third-party vendors, continual disregard for the Berry Amendment, and lack of foresight regarding the interplay between global economy and national security are the root causes of failure in this scenario.
The task is to ensure that the vulnerabilities we highlight are never capitalized on. Doing so will require a shift from hindsight to foresight. Indeed, the necessary prerequisite of creating a better, safer national security environment for tomorrow starts with the ability to envision it. While drawing on lessons from history is certainly important, nowhere in the United States government will you find personnel dedicated exclusively to overarching strategy with a long-term view. It is imperative to remedy this in order to avoid disastrous consequences, and reduce risks – both potential and real.
The 9-11 Commission Report concluded that the devastating attacks in September 2001 were due primarily to a failure of imagination and to leaders who did not fully understand the gravity of the threat we faced. One of the most compelling aspects about the following case study is that although it takes place in the future, it relies very little on imagination. This scenario is not about fantasy or prediction but practical reasoning and logical deduction. To be sure, the framework required for disaster in this scenario to unfold is largely set.
Creating an Opportunity
During the course of the last 30 years, the Chinese have infiltrated critical elements of the U.S. industrial base, which is, of course, inseparable from the defense industrial base. In addition to targeting automotive, aerospace and specialty metals, they have paid particular attention to the electronics industry. Through mergers, joint ventures, outright acquisition and industrial espionage, they have gained access and control to sensitive technologies.
This is especially true in the area of electronic connectors, which are connective devices used to join electrical circuits together, and are absolutely critical to everything using power. For