Message Epidemiology Resource for Counter insURgencY (MERCURY)

MERCURY is computer modeling technology that helps U.S. and coalition forces improve their counter insurgency measures.  The technology provides computer modeling of counter insurgency message dissemination that considers the heterogeneity of population response and contact rate.

Predictive models have been used to help the U.S. and Coalition partners achieve force superiority in Iraq and Afghanistan. While these statistical and physically quantifiable measures have been successful in delivering optimized kinetic and electronic results in conventional warfare theaters, insurgent-based conflicts were proving more difficult as environments in which to repeat this success, particularly in influence and information operations campaigns.

KBSI’s Message Epidemiology Resource for Counter insURgencY (MERCURY) initiative provided techniques for optimizing influence operations campaigns directed at insurgencies. When applied to insurgencies, these types of influence operations campaigns are complicated by the fact that active insurgents typically represent a small component of the population (less than 1%). MERCURY addresses this complication by providing computer models of message dissemination that takes into account the full heterogeneity of the host population response and contact rate.

MERCURY also identifies the “super spreaders” of information in the population—the relatively few individuals who are responsible for most of the information transmission—in order to accelerate the spread of counterinsurgency messages.  This approach applies techniques from viral marketing to achieve a more effective and efficient use of information in counterinsurgency operations.  In the early phases of the initiative, KBSI focused on developing a solid modeling capability for the phenomena and focused on integrating this capability with operations support systems.

MERCURY provides reliable techniques for predicting and measuring the effect of influence operations on insurgencies, helping U.S. and Coalition partners to mitigate and shorten conflicts. MERCURY’s predictive influence operations models have extensive military uses beyond counter insurgency including (1) psychological operations (PSYOP), (2) counterintelligence, (3) public affairs, (4) operational security (OPSEC), and (5) counter propaganda.  The ability to generate these types of predictive models also gives MERCURY a number of commercial applications in marketing and public relations.