If so they have rendered allied defenses “fragile” in Nassim Taleb’s sense. Shoring up logistical shortfalls, widening the leadership’s strategic gaze to encompass highly mundane capabilities and hardware, and otherwise engaging in self-scrutiny will help the sea services make themselves resilient. Taleb prefers systems that are “antifragile”—that not only withstand but actually benefit from taking a hammer blow. Such systems take a licking, keep on ticking, and come back stronger than before. We should strive toward an antifragile force—but resiliency represents a good first step.
James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific. The views voiced here are his alone.
Image: A F-35B Lightning II aircraft from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 goes through pre-flight checks before launch aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex as part of the F-35B's first combat strike, against a Taliban target in Afghanistan, September 27, 2018. Matthew Freeman/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS