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Keywords:

  • Cruise missile defense;
  • game theory;
  • homeland defense

Air and cruise missile defense of the U.S. homeland is characterized by a requirement to protect a large number of critical assets nonuniformly dispersed over a vast area with relatively few defensive systems. In this article, we explore strategy alternatives to make the best use of existing defense resources and suggest this approach as a means of reducing risk while mitigating the cost of developing and acquiring new systems. We frame the issue as an attacker-defender problem with simultaneous moves. First, we outline and examine the relatively simple problem of defending comparatively few locations with two surveillance systems. Second, we present our analysis and findings for a more realistic scenario that includes a representative list of U.S. critical assets. Third, we investigate sensitivity to defensive strategic choices in the more realistic scenario. As part of this investigation, we describe two complementary computational methods that, under certain circumstances, allow one to reduce large computational problems to a more manageable size. Finally, we demonstrate that strategic choices can be an important supplement to material solutions and can, in some cases, be a more cost-effective alternative.