“Wargaming Future National Security Threats Posed by Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases,” is the title of a paper by Dr. Deon Canyon, for Security Nexus. This paper highlights the reemergence of vector-borne diseases (VDB) such as West Nile virus, Dengue fever, Zika virus and Chikungunya virus, and their spread in North America, due to changing ecological contexts such as globalization, climate change, and human modification of ecosystems that have resulted in shifting habitats, exposure to new vectors, and the movement of vectors around the world. The paper suggests how a wargaming effort should aim to establish the existing level of government knowledge, characterize the context, drivers, and goals of VBD policy, identify and prioritize challenges and opportunities, and suggest policy actions to resolve the issues and their consequences.

The emergence of existing and novel vector-borne disease pathogens is highly unpredictable because there are so many possible causal factors of sociological, ecological, biological, behavioral, and political origin. Traditional data-driven forecasting tools have limited use in circumstances featuring low-probability crises for which trend data is unreliable and non-predictive. Commercial and security sectors have been quick to adopt various forms of wargames to address this gap and provide intelligent insights on possible outcomes in the short, mid, and long term future. The lack of commitment and action against vector-borne diseases by governments and local authorities requires a new approach that presents risk in terms of potential actions, possible outcomes and resulting consequences.

Dr. Canyon is a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the DKI APCSS or the United States Government.

Security Nexus is a peer-reviewed, online journal published by the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.