Authors | Editors: Elder, R. (George Mason University); Levis, A. (George Mason University)
With support from GTRI, GMU worked with Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to identify preferred, acceptable, and sustainable strategic outcomes for the U.S. and its partners. Decomposing these outcomes into causal effects and influencers served as a starting point to identify opportunities for Joint Force leaders and their inter-organizational partners to integrate military efforts and align military and non-military activities to avoid unacceptable strategic outcomes while pursuing U.S. national interests. A specific focus was to identify opportunities to counter competitor- shaping activities (particularly China and Russia) that limit U.S. freedom of action. The approach was based on challenges outlined in the Joint Staff Globally Integrated Operations Concept document. Using TIN models, GMU found that comparing U.S. and competitor regional objectives and identifying those that are in conflict with one another were a good way to highlight likely areas of competition that could develop into crises. This approach was also found useful as a means to develop potential indications and warnings. Computational experiments highlighted that U.S. and partner activities in response (counter-shaping) to one competitor’s actions can be easily misinterpreted by other competitors due to lack of context, as well as purposefully misinterpreted to use as leverage for their own counter-U.S. or counter-West campaigns. Finally, the experiments suggest that U.S. or partners taking actions to shape the environment as a prophylactic against competitor counter-west shaping activities has the potential to be misinterpreted which could create disturbances affecting regional stability and potentially lead to inadvertent escalation during periods of crisis.