Implications of the Complex Adaptive Systems Paradigm


Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN);International Safety Research Inc, Ottawa ON (CAN)
Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) theory is a framework which emerged in the late 1990s to describe, model, study and analyze systems that contain many diverse parts that are interconnected, act independently, self-organize and are non-linear. Over the last twenty years CAS theory has undergone refinement and has been applied in the military context, to assist militaries in adapting to the increasingly rapid pace of change in the security environment. This report examines the implications of the CAS paradigm for the Royal Canadian Navy. Building on the Adaptive Fleet Literature Review completed in January 2017, and viewing the Future Security Environment through the lens of CAS, it assesses how the CAS framework could be applied to assist in planning the future fleet. The CAS framework is not a bold alteration of course. It is a subtle but important change in approach which could complement Capability Based Planning and the most recent Fleet Mix Study Iteration II. By focusing on adaptability and complexity as beneficial characteristics of a force, the CAS framework has the potential to assist in informing RCN force development decisions; enhance the generation of the force; and help to deliver a future force more apt to deal with the vagaries of a complex, unpredictable and changing world. The approach this report takes is to provide a broad survey to raise issues for further consideration, and does not go into great detail. It does, however indicate where further examination i
Complex adaptive systems;Fleet structure;Future security environment
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2017-C052 — Contract Report
Date of publication
09 Mar 2017
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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