The military wants to know before it goes

DARPA wants a program that will predict a country's stability.

DARPA

When it comes to international quagmires, it would be nice to know if the natives are restless before you send in the cavalry.

Apparently, the U.S. military is not happy with the briefings it gets before being dispatched to police deadly fiascos around the world. So it is underwriting a program that will allow commanders not only to predict events and gauge stability in the countries in which they operate, but also to anticipate and respond to political crises worldwide.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to develop PRESAGE (Predicting Stability through Analyzing Germane Events), a system that will use diplomatic, military, and economic intelligence to predict, for instance, if and when a population will turn from basket-weaving to IED production.

PRESAGE will forecast rebellions, insurgencies, ethnic/religious violence, civil war, and major economic crises," according to Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratories. Then, once a crisis has been identified, the program generates a strategy or tactic to deal with it--sort of like a virtual State Department, but without the Cadillacs.

The program is but one element in DARPA's Integrated Crises Early Warning System (ICEWS). The vision is to produce a computational social science model that can forecast instability and conflict in an area before it becomes a major problem for the United States. Then, on the off-chance a crisis should develop, the program will help commanders to efficiently allocate resources in "mitigating" the "stability challenge."

Universities in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Washington, and Georgia are also involved, as are Innovative Decisions, Evidence Based Research, Interactive Data Visualization, and Argonne National Laboratory.

"PRESAGE will combine a portfolio of state-of-the-art and operationally deployed social science models and technologies to predict events of interest and general stability indicators," Lockheed's Mark Hoffman said in a press release. "Being able to predict events with reasonable accuracy is the first step in constructing a decision-support system to aid in region stabilization."

What is "reasonable accuracy"? More than 80 percent, according to the world's largest defense company. We need one of these in the Oval Office.

About the author

    The military establishment's ever increasing reliance on technology and whiz-bang gadgetry impacts us as consumers, investors, taxpayers and ultimately as the defended. Our mission here is to bring some of these products and concepts to your attention based on carefully selected criteria such as importance to national security, originality, collateral damage to the treasury and adaptability to yard maintenance-but not necessarily in that order. E-mail him at markr@milapp.com. Disclosure.

     

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