The ICONS Project at START-University of Maryland has been awarded a grant from the Minerva Research Initiative beginning July 1, 2018. This program, administered and jointly funded by the Basic Research Office (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense - Research & Engineering), the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense – Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Office of Naval Research, supports unclassified basic social science research aimed at improving our basic understanding of security, broadly defined.
The ICONS project will focus on “Escalation Management in the Gray Zone,” and will involve researchers at Maryland, George Mason University, National Security Innovations (a firm specializing in multidisciplinary data-driven analytics), the University of Exeter (UK), and a number of subject matter experts in the US and abroad. The work will involve the analysis of great power behavior in gray zone crises – conflicts that unfold in the space between war and peace, with actors purposely using multiple elements of power to achieve political-security objectives with activities that are ambiguous or cloud attribution. Focusing primarily on the examples of Russia, China, and their proxies, the researchers will seek to establish the best ways to shape behavior and manage escalation in this relatively new but increasingly prevalent type of conflict. Jonathan Wilkenfeld (Research Professor) and Devin Ellis (ICONS Director) will lead this effort.