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JASON Study on “rare events” aka Black Swans

JASON was asked by the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct an evaluation of the nation’s ability to anticipate and assess the risk of rare events. “Rare events” specifically refers to catastrophic terrorist events, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction or other high-profile attacks, where there is sparse (or no) historical record from which to develop predictive models based on past statistics.

This study was requested by the Strategic Multi-Layer Assessment (SMA) program, which is part of the Joint Staff/J-3, STRATCOM/GISC, and the Rapid Technology Program Office within the Department of Defense Re- search and Engineering. The SMA program was established in 1997 in response to the need for multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approaches to support the ten US Combatant Commands in complex operations outside their core competencies. One such area of complex operations that cuts across the Commands’ expertise is dealing with the Weapons of Mass Destruction/Terrorism (WMD-T) threat space.

The SMA undertook an effort in June of 2007, at the request of United States Special Operations Command and United States Strategic Command, to develop the foundation for establishing a sustainable, federated intelligence community (IC) wide WMD-T intelligence and operations analysis enterprise [3]. The goals set forth to SMA for the operations analysis enterprise are the following:

• Anticipate how terrorists are likely to acquire and use WMDs over the next ten years.

• Provide means to target areas, entities and persons facilitating adversary WMD courses of action.

• Characterize the global WMD-T environment.

• Identify and name areas, entities and individuals of WMD-T interest.

• Identify and prioritize WMD terrorist courses of action.

• Identify and prioritize collection requirements.

Specifically, the SMA was charged with the development of scientifically sound theory and methodology, leading to a collaborative infrastructure to accomplish those goals. This effort is on-going and has led to the request for the JASON study.

JASON Study on “rare events” aka Black Swans

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