How can society protect against asymmetric threats and terrorism? This is the core question guiding the work at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies (CATS). We conduct policy relevant research, analysis and training in order to advance knowledge and collaboration within these subject matters.
The premise of asymmetric threats consists of the achieving the maximum threat impact with the least amount of effort and cost. Such threats can emerge from both states and irregular actors and differ from conventional warfare.
CATS is a national centre within the Swedish Defence University tasked with developing and disseminating knowledge about asymmetric threats within the context of societal security and resilience. Through research, analysis and training CATS concentrates on terrorism and intelligence studies as well as cyber and influence operations.
The unique function of CATS as an independent government think-tank enables the centre to introduce solutions and perspectives that may be difficult to identify within traditional bureaucratic structures. Our aim is to provide a trusted “second opinion” for policymakers, which is accomplished mainly through academic articles, advisory services, training and confidential reports.
The legacy of CATS stems from the vulnerabilities within the information societies that became apparent in the 1990s. The study of Information Operations came to serve as the foundation for CATS when it was established in 1998. After the 9/11 attack in 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York, Terrorism Studies was added to the focus areas of CATS. This led to the recruitment of Dr. Magnus Ranstorp, currently the only associate professor in the Nordic region specializing in this area of research. His international expertise regarding radicalization and terrorism threats has served as an early key component of several government commissioned inquiries.
During latter years the network of national and international experts has been expanded and the centre has become well known beyond the Nordic countries. As a result of societal challenges related to cyber security and the overall security environment, studies centred on cyber and influence operations have once again increased in relevance, especially in the light of a growing interest in “Hybrid Threats”.
In the area of Intelligence Studies academic rigour has been strengthened through two experienced senior analysts pursuing their doctoral degrees. It has further been enhanced by research grants from the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service. Furthermore, a strong international network adds to the knowledge base through senior advisors such as Dr. Greg Treverton, former Chair of the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) under Barack Obama, and Sir David Omand, the UK Intelligence Coordinator to Tony Blair.
CATS is primarily funded by assignments from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, the Swedish Cabinet Offices and the Swedish Armed Forces, as well as by temporarily assignments for other government agencies as the Swedish Nuclear Safety Radiation Authority and the Financial Supervisory Authority.
Points of Contact
Director of CATS - Dr Lars Nicander
CATS Research Director - Dr Magnus Ranstorp