Suffolk University's Philip Vos Fellman used tools for analyzing complex systems to study terrorist networks. Employing network analysis, agent-based simulation, and dynamic NK Boolean fitness landscapes, Vos Fellman says his computer models offer clues on ways to undertake long-term operational and strategic planning to undermine terrorist networks.
Vos Fellman says the complexity of terrorist networks is compounded by their dynamic nature as well as their levels of ambiguity. His mathematical analysis suggests that isolating hubs within a terrorist network is the best way to fight terrorism, rather than attempting to destroy a network in short-term battles. Efforts should focus on the hubs around which the network hinges, and the computer models also indicate soft targets of small cells may not be worth pursuing.
"The results which these simulation and dynamical systems modeling tools present suggest that, quite literally, sometimes less is more and that operational objectives might be better directed at isolation rather than removal," Vos Fellman says. "If you are not focused on the top problems, then considerations of opportunity cost suggest that it may be better to do nothing rather than to waste valuable resources on exercises which are doomed to fail."
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