ACI Books & Book Chapters

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Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Army Cyber Institute


The intersection of digital and physical security is critical to the future security of our military and national defense. Coming technological advances widen the attack plain over the next decade including cyber, physical and kinetic vulnerabilities. Visualizing what the future will hold and what new threat vectors will emerge is a task that traditional military planning mechanisms struggle to accomplish given the wicked problem space.

Helping to understand and plan for the future operating environment is the basis of a research effort known as Threatcasting. Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society in collaboration with the Army Cyber Institute at West Point use the threatcasting process to give researchers a structured way to envision and plan for risks ten years in the future. For many organization the scope of this problem can seem overwhelming. Threatcasting, as an analytic technique, focuses on the intersection between cyber and physical domains and how it can revolutionize or paralyze the future.

Threatcasting uses inputs from social science, technical research, cultural history, economics, trends, expert interviews, and even a little science fiction. These inputs allow the creation of potential futures. By placing the threats into an effects based model (e.g. a person in a place with a problem), it allows organizations to understand what needs to be done immediately and also in the future to disrupt possible threats. The Threatcasting framework also exposes what events could happen that indicate the progression towards an increasingly possible threat landscape.

Threatcasting draws strength from futures studies, a field that provides theoretical and applied tools designed to shed light on deep uncertainties and complexities that futures hold. Foresight tools are rooted in exploratory, rather than predictive, methods of futures thinking, learning, and strategy as a means to prepare and plan for long-term outcomes that are difficult to imagine and impossible to predict. Such methods often stand in contrast to causal, linear, ‘plan and predict’ thinking that characterizes many contemporary practices of making and knowing futures.

As national security and technological possibilities change rapidly, new threats and opportunities become ever present. Threatcasting is a means to make-sense and anticipate military futures so that relevant institutions are able to anticipate, manage, navigate uncertainty and complexity ahead. This chapter will use the weaponization of artificial intelligence as a case study to walk readers through the research technique and results. Specifically, we will outline two case studies where the technique was applied with specific results. One case study focuses on the digital and physical supply chain in private industry (Cisco Systems) and the second investigates similar threats to the military’s supply chain (Military Logistics Officers).

The weaponization of any organization's supply chain and logistics systems poses a significant threat to national and global economic security. The very systems that are the engine of economies and the lifeline of goods and services to the world’s population could and most probably will be turned against the very people and organizations that they serve. This new threat landscape and associated challenges will affect industry, militaries and governments through loss of revenue, productivity and even loss of life. This weaponization will allow adversities whether they are criminal, state sponsored, terrorists or hacktivists to transform these systems from engines of productivity to enemies on the inside.

Upon reading this chapter, the student/practitioner will:

- Have an understanding of the threatcasting methodology so to be able to apply it against other problems of interest

- Appreciate the close ties between the advancement of technology and the effect to society, economies, and national security

- Apply the Threatcasting methodology to the specific problem of supply chains and the weaponization of Artificial Intelligence

- Create powerful narratives and fact-based illustrations to provide decision makers on the results

Publication Date



Boca Raton


threatcasting, operations research, military, digital supply chain, Artificial Intelligence

First Page


Threatcasting in a Military Setting



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