The Gray Zone: Charles River Analytics to Develop BELIEVES Deterrence Toolset for DARPA

Charles River Analytics Inc., developer of intelligent systems solutions, is investigating tools for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to help navigate the complexities of the “Gray Zone.” Charles River is researching methods that would improve Department of Defense analysis of potential deterrence strategies in the Gray Zone. The two-year contract is valued at $1 million.

Trends such as globalization and mass communication have resulted in an era where many “battles” are “fought” at the lower end of the conflict spectrum. These conflicts exist in a Gray Zone between traditional notions of war and peace. Gray Zone conflicts are not formal wars, and few resemble traditional, conventional conflicts. These “shadow wars” may not trigger conventional military responses but do pose strategic risks for the United States. In the Gray Zone, selecting the best strategy is challenging. For example, Gray Zone strategies can span a wide range of domains and stakeholders across the full Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic, Financial, Intelligence and Law Enforcement (DIMEFIL) spectrum. Strategic assessment requires careful consideration of uncertain conditions and a multitude of possible actions and outcomes. Measuring the success of deterrence—or motivating a change in an adversary’s intentions—is particularly difficult.

To address these challenges, Charles River and our team of experts is developing Behavioral Analysis Leveraging Human Intelligence to Evaluate Viable and Explainable Deterrence Strategies (BELIEVES), a Gray Zone analysis toolset for assessing deterrence strategies. BELIEVES is envisioned to allow analysts to model ever-changing environments, consider the adversary’s point of view, and predict a given strategy’s effectiveness based on past behavior.

“We’re using the latest research in computational and social sciences to model not just an uncertain and ever-changing environment, but also adversary behavior and intent,” explained David Blumstein, Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator on the BELIEVES effort. “We are developing a powerful and easy-to-use modeling and analysis toolset to better predict Gray Zone activity, helping our government decision-makers prevent conflicts.”

Charles River is building on decades of computational/modeling and simulation-based social science research experience in the BELIEVES effort. BELIEVES includes a modeling framework based on Charles River’s Figaro™ probabilistic programming language, incorporating the latest advances in strategic analysis and game theory to compactly model ambiguous situations and indeterminate adversary objectives and plans characteristic in Gray Zone conflicts.

This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Contract No. D17PC00153. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); or its Contracting Agent, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Interior Business Center, Acquisition Services Directorate, Division III.

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