"Deliberate employment of weapons of mass destruction or
other catastrophic capabilities, unforeseen economic collapse, loss of
functioning political and legal order, purposeful domestic resistance or
insurgency, pervasive public health emergencies, and catastrophic natural
and human disasters are all paths to disruptive domestic shock."
Titled "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense
Strategy Development," the report warned that the U.S. military and
intelligence community remain mired in the past as well as the need to
accommodate government policy. Freier, a former Pentagon official, said that
despite the Al Qaida surprise in 2001 U.S. defense strategy and planning
remain trapped by "excessive convention."
"The current administration confronted a game-changing 'strategic shock'
inside its first eight months in office," the report said. "The next
administration would be well-advised to expect the same during the course of
its first term. Indeed, the odds are very high against any of the challenges
routinely at the top of the traditional defense agenda triggering the next
watershed inside DoD [Department of Defense]."
The report cited the collapse of what Freier termed "a large capable
state that results in a nuclear civil war." Such a prospect could lead to
uncontrolled weapons of mass destruction proliferation as well as a nuclear
The report cited the prospect of a breakdown of order in the United
States. Freier said the Pentagon could be suddenly forced to recall troops
from abroad to fight domestic unrest.
"An American government and defense establishment lulled into
complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly
divest some or most external security commitments in order to address
rapidly expanding human insecurity at home," the report said.
The report said the United States could also come under pressure from a
hostile state with control over insurgency groups. The hostile state could
force American decision-makers into a desperate response.
"The United States might also consider the prospect that hostile state
and/or nonstate actors might individually or in concert combine hybrid
methods effectively to resist U.S. influence in a nonmilitary manner," the
report said. "This is clearly an emerging trend."
"The aforementioned are admittedly extreme," the report said. "They are
not, however, implausible or fantastical."