The CCISS Intelligence and National Security Seminar
Lessons for Defence Planning
Department of National Defence
Brian W. Greene
From a defence planning perspective, the key to mitigating the effects of surprise, if not avoiding surprise altogether, is generally understood to lie in more effectively managing the problem of uncertainty (i.e., the existence of insufficient and/or ambiguous data about an enemy's capabilities and intentions). To the extent that uncertainty poses a serious obstacle to effective planning, however, it is a problem circumscribed by relatively firm knowledge as to the potential sources of surprise. Accordingly, Dr. Greene recasts the problem of strategic surprise as one of 'bounded uncertainty,' a conceptual move with distinct implications for the organization of defence planning and intelligence processes.
Brian W. Greene is a Defence Scientist with the Centre for Operational Research and Analysis (CORA), part of Defence Research & Development Canada (DRDC). Dr. Greene holds a PhD in political science from McGill University. Prior to joining CORA in 2006, he taught international relations and Canadian foreign policy at McGill University, Carleton University, and Brock University. His most recent research focuses on the problem of strategic surprise.