Last week at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), CSIS’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program hosted Dr. Dane S. Egil, a Senior Advisor for National Security Strategies at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
Egil’s, “Beyond the Storms: Strengthening Homeland Security and Disaster Management to Achieve Resilience“, provides the foundation for critical infrastructure protection at the structural, informational, and policy level.
Egil stated that the current state of the world is governed by highly complex systems – maritime trade, global supply chains, informational highways – which inherently contain a large degree of uncertainty given their interdependence. As a result, this degree of uncertainty can, and has had significant effects on our critical infrastructure. Citing Hurricane Katrina, Sandy and 9/11 as examples of “Black Swan” events (low probability/high impact events) created through complex interactions.
Egil pointed out, whether it is natural or human disasters, the systems in which we are dependent on for our livelihoods are in constant threat. And paradoxically, provided these threats are becoming more frequent, a paradigm shift in how we allocate our federal, state and municipal resources for protecting our critical infrastructure is essential for circumventing these otherwise inevitable events.
For Egil, critical infrastructure protection is found in operationalizing resilience. Resilience for Egil is not rebuilding what was, but rather rebuilding our infrastructure to a degree in which weaknesses previously exploited are eliminated. With precipitating threats from non-state actors armed with hi-tech devices, uncertain future weather patterns, and state advancements in cyber weaponry threatening our national security, the increased likelihood of a black swan event is no longer a question of ‘if’, but rather ‘when’.
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