Dan Eisenberg, PhD
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
Resilience is a “new” term creeping into military directives, but what does it mean and how do we use it to guide decisions? Part of the reason that resilience is so difficult to apply is that the word itself occupies an awkward position in the English language. Although resilience is used as a noun, the most popular definitions describe it as a capacity to act – which makes resilience an action that systems perform, like a verb, rather than a property that a system has, like a noun. There is a historical precedent to this way of thinking , as the word resilience originates from the Latin word resilio, “to leap” or “bounce,” and first entered the English language in the 1500s as the verb resile, meaning, “to retract”, “to cancel”, or “to return to a former position.” Thinking of resilience as it was originally used – as a verb – has important implications for how we make military installations and operations more resilient.