Technology Strategies for Homeland Security

Adaptation and Coevolution of Offense and Defense

Published in: Homeland Security Affairs, Vol. 5, no. 1, Jan. 2009, p. 1-16

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Brian A. Jackson

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For homeland security organizations, responses to terrorist threats frequently rely on technology. In response, the terrorists adapt and change, threatening the defensive measures' protective value. Accepting this "back and forth" dynamic of the conflict, it is useful to think about the contest between terrorist groups and security forces as a coevolutionary process, where both seek to shape the other's behaviors. Terrorists' strategies are driven by the types and range of weapons and other technologies they acquire. Rather than falling into the trap of trying to create impenetrable defenses for every target, defensive technology strategies should recognize and — where possible — exploit these evolutionary dynamics through building flexibility into defensive approaches, attempt to actively shape adversary choices, and seek defensive approaches that are insensitive to terrorist adaptation and change.

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