Mitigating Strategic Surprise Through Scientific Method

By Troy Mitchell May 16, 2019


'Global unrest has become an unbounded reality'. To meet this emerging threat, critical thinking is imperative to mitigate the intelligence community’s vulnerability to strategic surprise. Formal or informal threat assessment techniques frame judgements about risk in conjunction with vulnerabilities. The 'lenses' analysts employ play decisive roles in developing actionable intelligence, making them the key to identification and prevention of strategic surprises. According to the author, assessing the risk posed by adversarial groups has always been a challenge for intelligence analysts. By integrating the principles of a risk-based approach to adversarial systems’ threat assessment, the intelligence organisation can integrate algorithms and models to provide a more accurate situational awareness to orient commanders and strategic decision-makers. Click here to access a copy of 'Mitigating Strategic Surprise Through Scientific Method'




Troy Mitchell

Dr Troy E. Mitchell has served in the United States Marine Corps since 1999 and has a Doctorate in Strategic Security. He currently serves as an exchange officer to the ADF as SO1 Effects to the Amphibious Task Group.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.


The USMC from the time of Général Grey as commandant and executed through MCCDC and the Warfighting Lab set the standard in the 1990s and 2000s for military analysis and experimentation. Activities such as Project Albert were the first to explore agent based distillations, super computers and early AI for use in this field. The Australian Army joined with this effort and major some good contributions to the field. This paper from a Marine Officer demonstrates the USMC continuing commitment to this thoughtful process. Key to the Army analysis and experimentation driven progress was the application of the necessary people and resources to the problem of the future. Between 2009 and 2013 Army dismantled most of its thinking and analytical positions primarily because much of the data, analysis and findings contradicted senior officer preferences for modernization. The application of analytical systems to improving Army decision making is a critical investment in future success. The resources to this effort need to be restored, applied and listened to if Army is to think it’s way into the future.

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