Treatment of Escalation in the RAND Strategy Assessment Center

by Charles L. Glaser, Paul K. Davis

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This Note reviews mechanisms of escalation that should be included in the work of the RAND Strategy Assessment Center (RSAC), and discusses alternative ways of doing so analytically. It assumes that the reader is familiar with the RSAC's objectives, technical approach, and terminology. The appendix discusses some of these matters briefly. The Note begins by discussing the relationship between escalation for direct military benefit and escalation as a form of generalized bargaining in the sense of Schelling. It then identifies six important factors causing escalation to become difficult to control. Having outlined the escalation issues to be addressed and some of the relevant variables to be included in RSAC exercises, the Note considers two analytic techniques for doing so: formal decision analysis and heuristic rule-based modeling. The Note concludes that decision analysis may be invaluable for developing and evaluating rules even if little vestige of formal analysis will exist explicitly in most of the final Red and Blue Agent programs.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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