It is important to consider the relationships between National Security, Climate Change Adaptation, and many other focus areas that bear upon the Domestic Resilience of America. Good governance truly is leading and managing a complex “system of systems” that often overlap and can mutually support or disrupt one another. It is important for leaders and national planners to analyze and consider the second and third order effects of their plans and decisions. The complexity of the “system of systems” that represents our national, state, and local governments, commercial activities, banking and investment, philanthropy, and many of the most important activities of our country are important to understand and to effectively coordinate in our free society.

The culmination of public, private, and individual efforts in all relevant areas of vulnerability will determine our Domestic Resilience, and Domestic Resilience is a vital National Security interest. Resilience in the presence of risk is the ability to avoid serious  impact, and retain or quickly regain, effective critical functions with a minimal loss of life,  infrastructure damage, and at acceptable financial cost.

Military National Security planning is extraordinarily detailed. We have Strategic Plans, Operational Plans, Contingency Plans, Branches & Sequels depending upon the plan experience when carried out. We “red team” military plans to identify and address weaknesses for correction. The military is fond of saying no plan survives first contact with the enemy or disaster. What is as important as the plan is the planning. Good military planners know the concerns and equities of various team members. They know capabilities and weaknesses of team-mates, allies, and partners. During plan execution and  resourcing they can most effectively negotiate and adjust from the base plan. DoD is (generally) able to specifically justify and prioritize requests for resources. Informed by the DoD example, a “Whole of Nation” Domestic Resilience planning effort could achieve greater integration and multi-agency collaboration on Domestic Resilience that will benefit all areas. There is currently no such national plan.

National Domestic Resilience would benefit from the same attention to detail and (somewhat) integrated resource planning that is applied to National Defense Planning. Generating great ideas and initiatives has little long-term value unless there is a good coordinated action plan carried out by able Administration leaders. Success requires both a good plan and capable leaders to carry the plan out.

The United States and other major developed countries often put significant national resources and planning into insuring defense from various threats. Historically these threats have been focused on defending against military threats from external enemies. Comprehensive risk management today however, in both government and the private sector, recognizes a wide variety of threats. Some can be military threats represented by traditional nation states and non-state terrorist enemies, business, commercial, and economic threats from competitors. These are the threats that military officials, diplomats, and government officials mostly focus on, and upon which national leaders most often engage. Other national threats and risks may be represented by natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, and acts of nature. The threat of pandemic disease has also been with us for centuries often affecting the course of history. Still other disasters are human-made accidents such as oil spills, nuclear plant accidents, chemical plant fires, natural gas explosions, and collapse of critical infrastructure. There are economic and financial market events that can affect national and local economies causing the loss of jobs, unemployment and underemployment, homelessness, and lack of affordable medical care. Finally, there are governmental and societal instabilities affected by all these factors that can create upheavals and unrest.

These threats and challenges can undermine the military strength and defense of the nation preventing the focusing of national resources to defense if needed, and distracting the commitment of citizens to common defense when they are understandably focused on basic survival and human needs for employment, food, water, shelter, medical care, and protection of their families. Military bases and logistic support for operating forces can be threatened by the diversion of resources and loss of operational readiness and quick agile response. The lack of national Domestic Resilience can bring down a country of formidable military might such as the example of the former Soviet Union, or create a “hollow force” which lacks the resilience to withstand and recover from challenges, and risks the lives of service members.

Without question, Domestic Resilience is National Security and it is broadly affected by International issues. Global exchange of information, widespread travel, connected markets, agricultural supply and demand, supply chain management, climate adaptation, water issues, pandemic disease control, stable societies and governments all require the same attention to detail and planning resources as the military and diplomatic details of National and International Security. (This is not to say total resources on the same scale as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) total budget, – – – but the same level of extraordinarily detailed domestic resilience planning as the military planning conducted in the U.S. Department of Defense.)

Planning for domestic resilience should be detailed and require unprecedented public / private collaboration and federal interagency coordination. Within DoD there is an established Planning Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) to define and analyze Joint, Defense Agency, and Military Service needs against operational and warfighting requirements, with a capability needs assessment that helps leaders define resource priorities. This work is done to develop the Department of Defense budget submission by the President to the Congress. It requires the support of  the Defense and Appropriations Committees in both  the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. (A total of 4 powerful and important Committees).  Expanding this DoD planning process to include the many domestic agencies that would have to participate for comprehensive domestic resilience collaboration will involve the support of multiple Congressional Committees. Coordination would require the committed engagement of the President and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the National Security Council, and the leadership of many domestic agencies. The next Administration may wish to consider a Domestic Security Advisor to the President at the same level and stature as the National Security Advisor. This collaboration and coordination will not be easily accomplished. It will take years of sustained effort to achieve but it must begin.

Regardless of the military strength of a country, a nation severely impacted by risks and threats that it is unable to effectively address, may needlessly suffer deaths, more than may have occurred in open warfare with an enemy. Regardless of the specific cause, the resources necessary to recover from unanticipated disaster for which no realistic contingency planning has been made may be a challenge even for the enormous resources of the United States. The many elements of comprehensive risk must be dealt with by a smart application of America’s intellectual capital and not just economic resources.

Another important factor today is that America’s  enemies will exploit every national weakness that our planners do not address. Our enemies may not fight us in the ways that we plan for. It is pretty-well known that to fight the United States in the ways we have planned and prepared for is a losing proposition for any enemy. While there may be some traditional engagements of soldiers, planes, and ships in periods leading up to war, once open unrestricted conflict breaks out, our enemies will seek to find our weaknesses and vulnerabilities in any area. Attacks may be asymmetric focused on our homeland, infrastructure, our civil society, and not result in combat with our military forces. As postulated by the Chinese War Lord Sun Tzu, our enemies will attempt to “Win without Fighting” exactly because of the strength of our military forces. Defense is not just military force; it is Domestic Resilience and interacting domestic “systems” and disciplines affecting all our society and lives.

The foregoing issues, and more yet unanticipated, and anticipated, events will affect both international and national security. There are unanticipated “Black Swan” events, which as the name implies, almost never occur. And there are, “Gray Rhino” events that will likely occur, but it is not known when. These “Gray Rhino” situations are often ignored even when obvious and well understood such as the necessity for climate change adaptation. (“The Gray Rhino” by Michele Wucker 2016).

Thinking about addressing these challenges can be divided into five areas:

1. Domestic Resilience includes (among other issues):

  • Climate Change Planning and Adaptation
  • Environmental Protection and Remediation
  • Energy Management (Conservation / Use / Alternatives)
  • Water Management (Quantity / Quality / Control / Distribution)
  • Disaster Preparedness, Response and Resilience (Natural & Manmade, Economic, Drought, Famine & Food Supply, Health & Pandemic Disease, Conflict & War)
  • Food Supply and Distribution / Agriculture Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Critical infrastructure (an extremely broad area)
  • Cyber Capabilities, Capacity, and Security
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Societal Stability / Human Rights / Conflict avoidance
  • Equitable Government Stability

2. Planning includes (among other issues):

  • Strategy Based –
    • What specifically is to be accomplished long and short term? Define metrics of success and how they will be measured.
  • Threat Informed –
    • How might events and challenges to Commercial and Financial Markets affect investment and costs?
    • What Resources will be required, or likely not be available?
    • What will Enemies do to counter our objectives? (Recall this is a dynamic process, a thinking enemy’s actions are informed by and reactive to our own actions and can change with circumstances.)
    • What Natural Disasters have any probability of occurring and what are our Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Plans for Resilience.
    • What critical protection and/or infrastructure is deteriorated or unprotected.
  • Capabilities Need Assessment
    • “Gap” Analysis
      • What are capabilities and resources are available, what are not, and what is needed?
      • Identification and Programming of Resources (Source and Amounts)
    • Can focused partnerships & collaborative resource planning be created to close identified resource gaps?
      • Not everything is solved by federal government resources.
    • Identification of Resources
      • Nation State Partners (Allies, Trading Partners, Cooperatives)
      • Commercial Business and Banking Groups
      • Individual Corporations
      • Philanthropic Groups
      • Individual Country, Federal, State, and Local contributors
    • Detailed justification and time phased programming of resources.
    • Remember capability is not just a number, it is what can be done with the resources available. (Sometimes fewer units or organizations have more capabilities than a larger number of less capable units.)

 3. Carrying out the Plans

  • Build a network of planners with trust amongst themselves. (Competitors and enemies can often be trusted in working together if their interests align. It is important of course to recognize divergence but equally important that cooperation and collaboration should be undertaken and asked for.)
  • Exercise Plans on a Regular Basis
  • Constant Adaptation (Understanding that specific plans often change as do circumstances, new data, and more accurate analysis.)
  • “Red Teaming” (Evaluating and trying to defeat our own plans)
  • Constant All-Source International Threat Assessment
  • Information Exchange and the development of “Knowledge & Understanding”.
    • (Information is not Knowledge – – – More Information may not provide understanding. Strive for Knowledge and Understanding).
    • Work toward Knowledge and Understanding of the vast quantities of Information. (How and why do things work, or not work? Conduct Root Cause Analysis. Is there effective Organizational and National Governance, Responsibility, Authority, and Policy?)
    • Requests for more information may indicate lack of understanding which no one should be criticized for.
    • Identify CCIR’s (Using a military term here “Commanders Critical Information Requirements”). What does the leader need to know? Request and focus info collection on these CCIR’s.
  • Create and sustain constant professional international data management and reliable sharing and exchange insuring the fidelity of all information to all parties.

4. Goals & VALUE

  • Understanding by all parties the value of the project to their own country, company, organization, investment, or individual interests achieved through this level of cooperation and planning. (Without this appreciation, commitment will wane.)
  • Better Strategic Planning and Risk Management by all parties.
  • Identification and exploitation of research and investment opportunities and artful commercial applications of innovative technology and scientific research.
  • Economic opportunities for new enterprises and new areas of employment.
  • Better management of international supply chains ensuring redundancy and diversification to avoid disruption, dependency, or control by others.
  • Agricultural management and food distribution.
  • Increased effectiveness of better-informed philanthropic investments.
  • Increased return on better informed commercial and private investments.
  • More stable societies and equitable government.
  • Improved National Security thru Domestic Resilience


Our now closely interconnected national and international economy requires us all to give attention to working together for Domestic Resilience and the mutual benefits that can be gained from this for global organizations, nations, and commercial business. Domestic Resilience issues cannot be simply addressed individually by subject area or individual organizational interests.

We must have a plan to achieve these things and recognized national and international leadership from all sectors. After action reviews, national commissions, studies, and reviews often produce good material but there is typically no sustained actionable structure that carries out the corrections, improvements, or longer-term vision. (Cynically, findings can be “Lessons Re-Learned”.)

The potential participants of a structured plan like this may be associated with national governments, large corporations, or other entities some of which may not be willing to accept either alignment, or non-alignment, for common goals.  – – – Can an organization be set up that values all participants but understands that some members may take their own positions different from the group consensus and remain respected participants? Now is the time for International and National “Coalitions of the Willing” that can cooperate on specific issues even if formal alliances are impossible.

ACRE – The Alliance for a Climate Resilient Earth

The Alliance for a Climate Resilient Earth (ACRE) is a rapidly growing new initiative uniting the strengths of many influential members representing commercial industry, science, engineering, technology, academia, governments, and conservation groups. The strengths of these member organizations are reinforced and amplified through strategic communications and coordinated advocacy for an action agenda that ACRE will help facilitate.

ACRE is a new initiative announced during EARTHEX 2020 on 24 April 2020 and which has already grown to over 100 members. Operating as part of the highly regarded Stimson Institute in Washington DC, ACRE is a developing organization which will facilitate information sharing and help coordinate public / private partnerships in efforts of mutual interest. More information can be found at the ACRE website at

The Solutions Journal has become the journal of record for ACRE. Going forward, ACRE, The Solutions Journal, and ACRE’s member organizations will work together with each other and with governments to encourage collaboration and coordination for innovation and progress. ACRE can become the collective voice for the alliance of member organizations in private industry, civil society, and academia.

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