Black Swans: Do we have the Culture and Will to Adapt Rapidly to Unforeseen and Potentially Catastrophic Events?

Sandwiches served at 12.40.

In 2012 the MoD Developments, Concepts, and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) produced a concept note entitled Black Swan. It proposed a different approach to 21st century naval warfare involving crewed and uncrewed vessels acting together as an integrated system. It seems prescient now, even mainstream, but a decade ago the concept did not fit with the existing narrative and fell on deaf ears, ultimately falling victim to a concerted campaign to undermine its validity. How many more Black Swans have been ignored or buried over the years, and are we today more able to broaden our thinking, take challenging, bold ideas and run with them? Or will vested interests always win the day?

Dr Kevin Rowlands is the Head of the Royal Navy’s Strategic Studies Centre, an internal Ministry of Defence think tank which aims to inform senior policy and strategy decision makers. He enjoyed a thirty-year naval career, of which twenty were at sea, and left in the rank of Captain. He has been the Secretary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee and other senior Ministry of Defence boards and committees, and was the Course Director for the United Kingdom’s Advanced Command and Staff Course. Kevin holds a PhD in War Studies from King’s College, London, and master’s degrees in defence studies and in education.