Yield to emerge stronger: reinventing global resilience

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (29 May, 2017) - The metaphor is apt; resilience is the way a branch may bend, but not break, and even spring back violently as if a whip. A workshop was held to examine this concept by the Advanced Distributed Learning Working Group (ADL WG), co-chaired by Greta Keremidchieva (Rakovski Defence College in Bulgaria) and Paul Thurkettle (NATO ACT in Norfolk, VA). PfP Consortium partners Global Challenges Forum Foundation and the National Defense University hosted the workshop “Shock, Stress, Innovation: Reinventing Global Resilience in the Information and Knowledge Age”, 15-16 May 2017, at National Defense University, in Washington, DC.

The workshop counted, among speakers and participants, US Navy Rear Admiral Pete Gumataotao, former finance minister of Colombia Alexander Mejia (now director of the UN Institute for Training and Research – UNITAR), and Dr. Linton Wells III former Chief Information Officer of the US DoD. Speakers came from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Jordan, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and represented the public, private, academic and military sectors of activity.

The workshop was inspired by the NATO Warsaw Summit conclusions which committed the Alliance to “…enhance resilience, i.e. to maintain and further develop the Alliance members’ individual and collective capacity to resist any form of armed attack (emphasis added).” The wording is not accidental in the current context of hybrid warfare, and requires Allies and Partners to consult in a comprehensive, whole-of-society approach to preserve Alliance security. The Working Group also explored concepts and modalities for the establishment of a Cyber Knowledge Network perhaps through UNITAR.

Rear Admiral Gumataotao set the tone; in a strategic environment where threats had become “impossible to predict”, ambiguous trends in today’s “dynamic strategic environment” could nevertheless be identified and informed judgments could be made as to their likelihood of occurring. For this, Gumataotao said, a “persistent, federated approach”, robust yet flexible, was now needed.

Dr. Walter Christman, of the Global Challenges Forum Foundation, echoed Rear Admiral Gumataotao’s thoughts by adding that such a “persistent, federated approach” required the creation of a multi-layered network in which communities of practitioners could engage with the policy/political leadership sphere, while at the same time providing a practical educational bridge between the public and private sector. “We hope” said Dr. Christman, “to bring resilience to the forefront of security thinking through such a network.”