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Per Lager, Education Coordinator at the Swedish Defense College (Försvarshögskolan), recently spoke at SCIP Nordic event sponsored by Comintelli and Kairos Future. Below is a summary of his speech from the event.
In today’s fast-changing environment, knowledge only has a half-life of five years – meaning that five years from now, only half of all the information we have will be relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, and the climate crisis have provoked an ongoing period of instability and uncertainty. Places all around the world are scrambling to find ways to keep up with this knowledge revolution and the continuous change in the environment. Regarding changes specific to Sweden, there has been a recent change in the regional structure of civil defense. There used to be 21 agencies and now it has downsized to only 6 agencies that are associated with the total defense.
The total defense is everything that protects the country – this includes the military defense, the civilian defense, and crisis preparedness. Crisis preparedness, or emergency preparedness, is the proper preparation for a crisis. However, maybe even more importantly, it is the ability to be resilient after a crisis. In the past, there was a definitive line between times of peace and times of war; very simply, a country was at war, or it was not. In today’s changing environment, this line has become increasingly blurry. Now, for example, Sweden is not necessarily at peace or war. The model currently being used to assess the state of the environment is the hybrid model. The hybrid model considers six different types of warfare: diplomatic, economic, conventional, disinformation, unconventional, and irregular. The use of intelligence has become exponentially more necessary because of all these new converging pieces of information.
Through the Intelligence2day platform, it is possible to be aware of all the moving pieces. Monitorization of any region that takes place at private, public, and multinational levels. Intelligence2day is a great tool to provide a quick way to see the “red threats”. With various alerts, it is possible to be updated instantaneously with the incoming information. The information going through the system comes from an automatic, o-synch (open synchronous) flow and human intelligence. This combined flow of information creates a very important advantage for competitive intelligence regarding crisis preparedness.
The crisis preparedness organization in Sweden is fairly young, as it started after the tsunami in Thailand took place in 2004. The areas that deal with crisis preparedness inside the government include the Prime Minister State Secretary, the Group for Strategic Coordination, the Counsel for Crisis Preparedness (which is broader than the group), the Office for Crisis Management, and the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency. With all the various areas and information, intelligence is key to narrowing the information down to the most important pieces. These areas in the government very closely monitor ten different sectors that they have deemed to be most important for the safety of Sweden. And each of these sectors needs to have risk and vulnerability analyses reported so that the government can develop effective strategies. The challenge with this is that the quality of each report differs between sectors because each has different methods of gathering information. The classic risk assessment model of comparing likelihood to consequence is getting more difficult to implement because there is no clear way to calculate the likelihood of certain crises.
There is now a new focus on trying to avoid conflict altogether. With new operating intelligence systems, NATO has been able to discuss the baseline requirements for civil preparedness and their various limitations. By the year 2030, Sweden will have an operating system that will guarantee the security of supply, but this may need to happen sooner.
The five predictions for the future are more transparency, more technology, more “Kahneman”, more integration, and more focus on decision making. First, more transparency between civilians and the military is likely to happen because revealing information can help to avoid an event from taking place, or at least create a sense of emergency. Second, it is likely more technology will be used to identify, handle, and assess the crises. Third, to be more “Kahneman” means to be placing more value on the perceived gains, rather than the perceived losses. It is important to try to avoid cognitive bias, rather than simply recognizing it is there. Fourth, there will be more integration of public and private sectors because there needs to be a balance; all things coming from one source are not beneficial and will not best prepare the country. Fifth, and finally, there will be more focus on decision-making. Lately, people have been airing on the side of caution by not making decisions because then, if anything goes awry, there is no blame to put on them. This will most likely change because there is a need for courageous decision-makers in the current world.