Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Archduke Ferdinand

In the summer of 1914, tensions across the continent of Europe were nearing a breaking point. The fuse that ignited "The Great War" (World War I) was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess Sophie -- heirs to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Vienna -- in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb student named Gavrilo Princip.

The Archduke had avoided an earlier attempt on his life that morning by blocking a hand-thrown bomb with his hand (it detonated under his car, wounding 20 along the crowded streets of Sarajevo). After tersely scolding the Mayor of Sarajevo about "getting bombs thrown at [him]", he continued with his planned speech -- after which the Duchess suggested they travel to the hospital to visit the wounded citizens.

A wrong turn put the open-air car right in front of another one of the six plotters. Gavrilo Princip pushed his way to the car and shot the Archduke and Duchess with his 9x17mm semi-automatic pistol.

The subsequent reactions by the "great powers" ignited long-dormant animosities. Compounded by the arms race (particularly in naval affairs, with the British royal family competing with their close relative in Germany, the Kaiser Wilhelm II) and a fragile balance of power, the subsequent conflict would result in 20 million deaths and sow the seeds for Hitler's rise to power.



[Moblog] Desert Foursome

After wrapping up the TapRooT® Summit earlier this afternoon, we've headed south into the canyons of south Vegas for 18 holes on The Revere Golf Club's "Concord Course".

With a total distance of more than 7,000 yards, and temps around 104° F., I expect to be a raisin by the time we're done....

Update: We ended up scoring a 68 (thanks to the "Captain's Choice" best-ball scramble format). Thankfully, Richard (a Navy civilian from Bethesda Naval Hospital -- far right in the top photo) has a single-digit handicap and a monster drive. Suzie (also a Navy civilian from Bethesda) made some clutch shots, which really helped when the silver (women's) tees were sometimes 100 yards ahead of the black (championship) tees we were using. And Dan (far left in the photo), Software Program Manager for System Improvements -- the makers of TapRooT -- was on with his short-range game. Alas, the Canucks stole the Cup for the third consecutive year with a score of 61....

Labels: ,


[Moblog] Nikki Stone

At the TapRooT™ Summit in Las Vegas, where we are learning how to save lives and avoid accidents, we had a motivational talk from Nikki Stone to end our day. She won Olympic Gold 10 years ago at Nagano in Freestyle Inverted Skiing - those crazy 50' high jumps with triple back-flips and twists.

Nikki gave a powerful talk on overcoming adversity. She had a debilitating spinal injury just a couple years before Nagano, with ten different doctors telling her she'd never jump again. But one doctor told her that if she could strengthen her back muscles - through a very painful training regimen - she could jump again.

Her focus and her passion saw her through the grueling training, and made her the first American to ever medal in the sport (let alone win gold).


On Information

A Twitter "tweet" from @Selil earlier this evening roused a long-dormant post idea. Since Twitter is a "micro-blog", its constraint of just 140 characters limits its utility to low-bandwidth, big-idea (or mundane-activity) broadcasting. Prof. Liles's "big-idea" (in response to @mtanji of Haft of the Spear and CTLab fame) was:
"C4isr as the battle space. More than the Arquilla network centric warfare concept. Beyond hacking. Sun Tzu and Clausewitz"
I certainly agree with Prof. Liles that there is more to the information domain than John Arquilla and net-centric warfare (which always struck me as an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophesy -- despite the fact that network superiority has no deterrent value). Where I differ is in the proposition that C4ISR is a "battle space".

C4ISR, or (as ADM Giambastiani liked to refer to it during his tour as my boss at U.S. Joint Forces Command, "C2 + C2ISR"), is simply a tool. The technology only provides a medium by which information can be shared, the same way that Roman signal towers allowed information to be conveyed rapidly across great distances millennia ago.

Part of the Tanji-Liles dialog emphasized the lack of any truly "revolutionary" capabilities in recent decades. I'm inclined to agree -- from a purely technological perspective. Our modern technology -- though impressive -- has not ushered in a unique "Information Age". In fact, today's technologies have not created wholly new capabilities; they have simply enriched capabilities that have existed for centuries. Rather than living in "The Information Age", I believe we are actually living in the fifth "information age":
1st: Verbal exchange of information (oral communication)
2nd: Physical representation of information (Sumerian writing)
3rd: Portability of information (papyrus)
4th: Mass-production of information (Gutenberg's movable type press)
5th: Information freed from physical form (telegraph, telephone, Internet)
The most significant effect of proliferating information technology and communications capabilities has been to neuter the initiative and empowerment of subordinates -- stunting the audacity that makes (or breaks) battles. Rigid hierarchies coupled with pervasive communications grids -- with "Net-Centricity" -- are demonstrably less effective than ones with "weak" links (q.v. Linked by Albert-László Barabási).

Consider the "Operational Level of War" -- the level between "Tactics" and "Strategy". Many organizations of the U.S. Department of Defense invest inordinate numbers of labor hours in developing an idea that peaked in Napoleon's time (when it was called "Grand Tactics").

Napoleon's logic was simple: he commanded an army so vast that its interior lines could exceed the distance of daily information propagation. (Information in the late 18th/early 19th century could propagate at approximately 100 miles per day.) But when technology increased the bandwidth of information transfer (as well as the speed, thanks to decoupling it from physical form and allowing velocity=c), the intermediate layer that once served as a proxy for the Imperial edict (i.e., empowerment of the on-scene commander to act on behalf of the Emperor) has remain entrenched.

Modern C4ISR tools have served to perpetuate this folly, giving today's commanders a beguiling sense of "Situational Awareness". MIL STD 2525, the military standard for unit symbology merged with theater-scale maps, can give a commander a "realtime snapshot" of the entire physical battlespace. But as the scale increases (since warfare is not scale invariant), the trade off between "relevance" and "intelligibility" becomes akin to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: as one becomes more precise, the other becomes dangerously less so.

The temptation to treat warfare like a game of chess (with its ordinal moves and perfect battlefield intelligence) is fallacious. ARHerring, a co-contributor at Dreaming5GW, recently opined about the nature of chess on multiple boards -- a closer approximation to the adaptive and complex nature of war. Clausewitz's description of "Genius" in battle is the antithesis of a reductionist thinker who seeks the unique solution to a given problem. Complex adaptive environments can have multiple solutions -- but an even larger number of incorrect options.

Therefore, a better description of an effective military leader is not simply "charisma", but "network fitness": per Barabási, the ability to "attract" links in order to influence their perceptions. This applies not only to COIN, but also to Information Warfare (h/t mtanji) and the renascent field of Public Diplomacy championed by Mountainrunner.

Update: Michael Tanji and Tyler Boudreau (h/t John Robb) sound off.

[Crossposted at Dreaming5GW]

Labels: , , , , , ,


[Moblog] More Fab

The Hampton Roads girls are still FABulous!

[Moblog] Splashdown!

After a 0600 departure from the Secret City this morning, we covered 500 miles in 8 hours before grinding to a bumper-to-bumper halt on Interstate 64 between Richmond & Williamsburg.

After an abrupt "about-face" (thanks to those handy 'Authorized Vehicles Only' cut-outs on the median), we cut over to U.S. 60 and scooted the length of the Peninsula - only to find the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel was closed due to a disabled vehicle.

Another about-face, we crossed the James River Bridge into the haze from a wildfire in the Great Dismal Swamp (which started two weeks ago, ironically from the heavy equipment that was being used to *prevent* fires from spreading).

Though my "average speed" plunged from 63mph to a mere 56 (reminding me why we dislike Virginia), we are now surrounded by dear friends at the Tillett-Ambrose-Smith family pool. In a few moments, the worship pastor from our former hometown church will baptize Eldest and Man-Cub (as well as the Tillett-Ambrose-Smith family).

Update: Pastor Mark, Worship Pastor from Believers Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, presides over a baptism ceremony in the Ambrose-Smith-Tillett pool. Eldest's faith grew significantly during a "Women of Faith" conference and concert in Washington, DC two years ago (which she attended with CINCOZ), and she's been asking to be baptized for several months.

Man-Cub also has a much deeper faith than me, expressing it in nearly everything he does. So he wanted to make his own declaration of faith -- much like CINCOZ's personal acceptance, also at the age of 7.

As someone raised in a secular home (we didn't even go to church at Christmas or Easter) -- whose subsequent faith was tempered in the cauldron of solipsism before giving way to deism in college -- and whose bride has been Christian nearly her entire life, I marvel at the purity of faith in these kids. Though my own skepticism has not yet been squelched (requiring something on the order of a "Road to Damascus"-like encounter to overcome), there is comfort to be found in the unadulterated love kids can express.

Labels: ,


[Moblog] Normandy

Near Chateau Colombieres, on the road to Hiesville, Eldest met a 1st Lieutenant from the 101st Airborne Division.

Not far away, near a German checkpoint, Man-Cub guarded the flank.

[Moblog] Secret City Fest

Today is the start of the annual "Secret City Festival" in Oak Ridge, a two-day party with games, crafts, food and public tours of the three Manhattan Project sites.

The kids were welcomed by Oscar the Robot, who was far more aware of its surroundings than your normal automaton!

Other Festival activities include bands (including a concert by one of The Supremes tomorrow night), bungee trampolines, and a World War II reenactment.



Today (June 18th) is the 193rd anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo - the final defeat of Emperor Napoleon and the eclipse of France's dominance on the Continent by nascent Prussia.

Though the Emperor had been deposed the previous year (after the disastrous march on Moscow in 1812 decimated the Grande Armée) and exiled to l'Isle d'Elbe in the Tyrrhenian Sea, he escaped from captivity and returned to Paris in March 1815. With the remnants of his army rallying around him, Napoleon marched on the British and Prussian forces in Belgium before additional allies could rally and organize a defense.

John Keegan, in The Face of Battle, describes the conditions with impeccable and compelling details - down to the weather the night before, the conditions of the crops on the road near Soignies, and the mood of the troops. While Napoleon commanded total loyalty from his forces, the forces on the field near Braine-l'Alleud were not the same seasoned veterans with whom he conquered the Continent in previous years.

Today, the site of the battle is marked by a tall (40') pyramid, atop which stands a lion in repose. On my very first visit to Europe, 1992 into Brussels, my first "tourist activity" was to take the train south from Brussels to Braine-l'Alleud and a cab to the Butte de Lyon. Since it was early (redeye from CONUS), the omelet fromage I had at a bistro near the train station in Braine-l'Alleud remains one of the most delicious meals I have ever had in my life.

After the battle, the Duke of Wellington is reported to have said, "There is nothing as melancholy as a battle lost -- except, perhaps, a battle won." The second defeat of Napoleon saw the deposed Emperor exiled not to the comfortable confines of l'Isle d'Elbe, near his family's roots in Corsica, but rather to the remote island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic. He died six years later, and is today interred in L'Hôtel des Invalides in Paris (in seven concentric sarcophagi).

Labels: ,


Random Seven Meme

While I harbored plans to provide an intellectually stimulating post on "decisionmaking" today, I instead have to respond to General of the Hordes Subadei's "randomness meme".

Update: I've been double-tapped, this time by The Strategist.

The Rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog. (Done, above)
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Present an image of martial discord from whatever period or situation you'd like.

So, beginning with #5, here is an image from (IMHO) the most significant moment of the most significant battle of the Civil War: Gen. Stonewall Jackson succumbing to friendly fire.

This fateful shot, near dusk in the rugged woods of central Virginia in early May 1863, felled the maneuverist spirit of the Confederate States Army -- and left General Bobby Lee with only Longstreet's "static defense" a few short weeks later at Gettysburg. Had Stonewall Jackson been present in Pennsylvania, I have no doubt that he would have listened to Hood and his Texans' idea of flanking Meade and the Army of the Potomac well south of Little Round Top -- and many more of us would to this day be sending our income tax returns to Richmond....

Seven random facts about me:

1. I have been in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Actually, I've been under the DMZ -- in an intercept tunnel dug by the R.O.K. into a mostly-completed tunnel from the north. It was wide enough for two soldiers to walk abreast, or for one division per hour to move through.

2. I've lived in six different states of the U.S., including (for two years) Hawai'i. So quit your whining about the price of food & gas -- we were paying nearly six bucks for a gallon of milk ten years ago.

3. Along with college buddy Tony, I used to brew my own beer. A doppelbock we brewed in the early 1990s won an "Honorable Mention" at the Del Mar Fair in San Diego -- despite being a simple extract brew.

4. My grandmother was a Marine in World War II. As was my grandfather (which is how they met, gearing up for Operation OLYMPIC and the invasion of Japan in 1945; thank God for the Manhattan Project!). Other Marines in my family include my step-dad, my uncle and my cousin. Alas, I wasn't good enough ("4-F" medical disqualification at the entry processing station after graduating from college).

5. I met my bride on a plane. I was going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming with the ski club from the Navy lab where I worked; she was going to her grandmother's funeral. She sat in front of me from San Diego to Denver, and again (a week later) right in front of me from Denver back to San Diego. (Makes it hard to be agnostic with that kind of blatant interventionism going on! :-)

6. I missed just one math question on my college prep exam (the ACT), taking my possible score of 36 (out of 35) all the way down to a 33. The question? Area of a circle. Every time I think about it, refrains of "π are square" echo in my head....

7. I once wanted to major in philosophy, probably due more to the fact that I was a lazy student incapable of serious, deep study than for any real interest in epistemology. Parental intervention (i.e., "Fine - but YOU have to pay for your tuition, books and lodging!") gently nudged me back on the physics track.

In the interest of seeing how the fairer sex addresses Rule #5, I hereby tag:

Citizen Netmom
Baby Brewing Cocktail Mommy
Sydney Liles (as ZenPundit has tagged Sam :-)
Cheryl @ Whirled View

Labels: , ,


Happy Army Birthday!

Happy 233rd Birthday, U.S. Army! J-HOOah!

Labels: ,


Generations of War: New Post

After a nearly-four month hiatus, I have posted a new piece over at my co-'blog, Dreaming5GW. Check it out.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


[Moblog] Mayor & the Gang

Mayor Tom Beehan of Oak Ridge talks with Posterity of Oz during today's "City Council Night Out".

The kids also came out to cheer our softball team on to an impressive 17-4 victory over Champs Bar & Grill in Men's Open B-League Softball. Not bad for a former "Masters League" team!


DHS S&T Summary

It was a good week at the Reagan Building & International Trade Center, where I was a guest of MountainRunner (as one of his invited "bloggers") covering the Dept of Homeland Security Science & Technology Stakeholders' Conference. It was a great chance to meet several 'blogfriends in person, as well as several new faces like Dr. Amy Zalman (who aptly noted the unspoken theme of "persistent surveillance" at this week's show) and Jonah Czerwinski (whose several posts can be found here, along with others related to "Technology for Homeland Security").

'Bloghost MountainRunner was featured prominently in a Sharon Weinberger piece at WIRED's Danger Room, and Michael Tanji's ThreatsWatch post raises the excellent consideration of management process to govern capability development. My own posts, tagged "liveblog", are here.

I was most surprised to note that, while Undersecretary of Homeland Security (Science & Technology) Jay Cohen is the former Chief of Naval Research, the bulk of the technical content presented at this week's conference comes from the Department of Energy. DoE representatives dominated the agenda (particularly the plenary panel discussions, where one panel was fully dedicated to DoE National Labs) as well as the exhibit floor (where booths featured Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Battelle, National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Test Site and hometown big-wig B&W Y-12).

My conclusion? While U.S. Northern Command is the "Executive Agent" for DHS S&T's experimentation campaign, the preponderance of technical and research content is driven by the Department of Energy.

Labels: , , , ,

Belleau Wood Teufelhunden

Today, June 6th 2008, marks the 90th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps' historic attack on the German Army near Château-Thierry on the Paris-Metz Road just east of Paris. It was in these forests, known as Belleau Wood but renamed after the battle by the French as Bois de la Brigade de Marine (Woods of the Marine Brigade), that Marines came to be known as Teufelhunden: Devil Dogs.

My grandfather (seen here with grandma, also a Marine!) served years later in the 6th Marine Regiment, one of two regiments that comprised the 4th Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood. All Marines in the 5th and 6th Regiments may wear the fourragère, a braided-rope award worn on the left shoulder that has been used to honor distinguished units since Napoleon.

Semper Fidelis!

Labels: ,


[Moblog] Best BBQ!

Duke's in downtown Wytheville (extreme southwestern Virginia, about 60 miles from Bristol) is hands down the best BBQ in the southeast! It even bests my old fave' Pierce's Pitt near Colonial Williamsburg.

Duke's is closed on Sundays, but open 10-8 every other day ('til 9 on Fri. & Sat.).


[Liveblog] "The Cavalry"

Under Secretary Cohen introduced the six "B" thrusts (Bombs, Bugs, etc.) by describing the key interoperability challenges of a diverse homeland security enterprise.

Noting the U.S. founding fathers' intent for an inefficient and confrontational form of government to prevent tyranny (something Under Secretary Cohen tells the Hill, and the Hill tells him), he said that DHS is five years old -- and implored us to compare to the maturity of our own five-year-old kids or grandkids. He went on to note that Goldwater-Nichols (the landmark act that united the armed forces of the U.S. military into a joint force) is 23, and we're still not wearing purple uniforms.

The graphic above shows the escalating challenges of a major crisis: from the local sheriff to county police, state troopers, National Guard, federalized National Guard, to the "cavalry": U.S. Northern Command. As local First Responders are overwhelmed, the next higher tier has to provide relief.

NORTHCOM is Cohen's "executive agent" for experimentation, and said that "NORTHCOM is for DHS what U.S. Joint Forces Command is for the Dept of Defense." This is an interesting parallel, because there were some of us on the USJFCOM staff (after 9/11, when we lost the geographic area of responsibility to focus on force providing, training, integrating and experimenting) who believed that NORTHCOM was the ideal command to assume the "Force Provider" role.

During my first visit a few years ago to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, headquarters of NORTHCOM, I was amused to see the logos of NORTHCOM's service components -- the commands that train, equip and provide the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to the Combatant Commander for joint missions. The logos were for Forces Command (Army), Fleet Forces Command (Navy), Air Combat Command (USAF), and Marine Corps Forces-Atlantic (USMC).

The irony? Those are the very same component commands under USJFCOM. So if NORTHCOM is to DHS as USJFCOM is to DoD, then how does the President reconcile two of his Cabinet departments if both DoD and DHS have competing needs -- and the same jar of force structure to draw from?

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] DHS S&T, Day 3

The third day of this year's DHS S&T Stakeholders' Conference (East) begins with a compelling keynote address by Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, México's Ambassador to the United States.

Ambassador Sarukhan noted our shared security concerns, and the strategic rationale for the strong relationship between our two nations. President Bush's first trip abroad as POTUS was to México, and recently Secretary Chertoff and Secretario de Gobierno Terrazo signed a binding agreement in New Orleans to share science and technology.

Ambassador Sarukhan described our strategic relationship as driven by trade, that NAFTA is a good thing -- enabling a quadrupling of U.S.-México trade (now nearly $350B/year, making México the U.S.'s third largest trading partners). Technology will soon allow efficient, paperless customs clearances and non-intrusive inspection means along the 48 ports of entry along the U.S.-México border.

His three strategic priorities:

How do we foster common prosperity while ensuring common security?

How do we secure the border while ensuring it is pliable and flexible to the free flow of goods?

How do we stop the loss of our own constituents' 'hearts and minds'?

Ambassador Sarukhan: "There is no more important relationship to the future prosperity of the U.S. than with México.... Our two societies need to be co-stakeholders to move forward."

Labels: ,


[Moblog] Blog Summit

Happy Hour at the Capitol City Brewery with (from left to right) MountainRunner, Haft of the Spear, Danger Room / War Is Boring and Wizards of Oz. Watch out, Washington!

I'm probably not supposed to tell you this, but David Axe had to depart early for an, (ahem), viewing of Sex and the City -- not unlike another 'blogger recently did.... :-) And no, ZenPundit, he was not in the "Somebody's Interior Decorator" ratio.

Update: According to MountainRunner, Axe said the dresses in SatC were "FABulous". I suppose for a guy about to depart for the Ends of the Earth, he's entitled.... BTW, I encourage you to support David's ventures via a PayPal donation. He may just mention you in his book!

Labels: , ,

[Liveblog] HD on Steroids


Another impressive gizmo at the Reagan Bldg: 17 Megapixel large-screen displays projecting HD video, showing ZenPundit-like power. So the image on the screen (here, former mentor and ONR Program Officer Mr Ben Riley from DoD/AT&L) looked sharper and more crisp than the real life view.

Labels: , ,

[Liveblog] ANTARES


Überblogger "MountainRunner" checks out Future Concept Inc.'s "ANTARES": Advanced National Tactical Awareness Response Emergency System. This system is a fully interoperable communications system, with SATCOM, UHF, VHF, and a variety of customizable comms capabilities, optimized for community first responders (fire, sheriff,etc.).

After stopping by the Government of Sweden's sponsored information sessions, we were joined by David Axe of WIRED's Danger Room 'blog. Along with Dr. Amy Zalman and Bob Buderi, this brings our Blogger total to seven.

Labels: , ,

[Liveblog] Cool Conference Gadget

Stephanie demonstrates the "Cool Conference Gadget" of the week: nTAG's interactive identification tag. Instead of a paper nametag, some conference participants received a personalized digital nTAG. This nTAG, in addition to having the participant's contact information, also has an iPod-like interface with the conference agenda, local restaurant information, and "polling" features to allow realtime feedback on speakers and topics.

The nTAGs also have an 802.15 interface for exchanging contact information with other participants (akin to my Palm "beam" function), for logging your presence at various panels and sessions, and for the realtime polling feedback noted above.

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] Secretary Chertoff


Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff provides the second keynote at today's DHS S&T Conference.

His priorities for DHS where technology is a key enabler:

1. Protecting against dangerous people (with nearly 5 million people entering the U.S. each year, border agents have mere seconds to decide and act). Biometrics can link collected intelligence from overseas (e.g., at compromised terrorist safe houses) with incoming personnel at ports of entry, creating a deterrent for terrorists who seek to cross borders.

2. Keep dangerous things out of the U.S. Radiation portal monitors are being deployed to scan *all* inbound cargo for fissile material. Explosive detection devices that screen baggage are being enhanced through millimeter wave technology.

3. Smart acquisition that considers all elements of a system. "Technology only works in the context of the system in which it operates.... It is only in the whole system that these gizmos and gadgets can make a difference."

4. Integrating DHS as a unified entity. DHS is seeking to consolidate its seven national networks into a single system supported by a cybersecurity initiative.

In closing, Secretary Chertoff said, "We will continue to build on the technology and ingueniuty of people like you to allow trade and travel to proceed safely and securely.... Our greatest strength as a nation is ingenuity and creativity enabled by freedom."

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] Cohen Keynote


"Our mission is to make the nation safer, and to keep the nation safe." The Honorable Jay Cohen kicks off the plenary session of the DHS S&T Stakeholders' Conference by describing his four "Gets" (Get people, financial books, organization and content right) and now six "B's": Bombs, Borders, Bugs, Business, Bodies and Buildings. "It's all about product to help our first responders!"

"Our adversary is very patient and focused. Will we have done enough to make -- and keep -- the nation safe?"

The panelists seated to Admiral Cohen's left are representatives from the National Labs, including Associate Lab Directors ("VP" equivalents) from Oak Ridge, Savannah River, Sandia, Brookhaven and Los Alamos -- plus the Lab Director from Pacific Northwest.

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] DHS S&T, Day 2

Day 2 of DHS S&T Stakeholders' Conference, featuring a full day of plenary sessions. The Honorable (VADM(ret)) Jay Cohen, Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Science & Technology, will open with a keynote address, and Secretary Chertoff will speak later in the morning.

Panel discussions will include various "partners": Dept of Energy's National Labs, Community First Responders, Capitol Hill, International Partners and Federal Agencies.

Labels: ,


Dinner w Doyle

My host in Virginia and self-taught chef extraordinaire, Terry Doyle, whips up some of his famous Szechuan Shrimp (aka The Envy of the Red Chinese Navy). I have dined well this week - with more to come!

[Liveblog] IED Neutralization

Final presentation of the day: "Training Session 58" by Mr. Tom Donaldson, Senior VP at Applied Energetics (née Iontron), talking about directed energy weapons to "neutralize" threats. Most compelling example: Laser-Guided Energy (LGE), ionizing the air through femtosecond laser pulses, focusing the induced plasma into narrow channels (<200μm), can produce a precise conductive path for a number of operational applications (e.g., area denial, vehicular incapacitation, explosive detonation). Impressive....

Videos are on the company website here.

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] Science Fiction Authors

Proof positive that DHS is not constraining the sources of its input for shaping its research agenda: "Training Session 53" at this week's DHS S&T Stakeholders' Conference features four science fiction writers who provided their "far-future" perspective in support of national and homeland security.

This is a repeat performance by several of the writers, including Arlan Andrews and his cohorts in SIGMA. Last year's session was profiled last year by MountainRunner. This year's big dialog was about the threat of diminished resources (particularly water) and future teenagers who will be able to hack proteins in a basement bio lab.

Labels: ,

[Moblog] Pennsylvania Ave

[Liveblog] TechSolutions

Mr. Greg Price is DHS S&T's Director for TechSolutions, the Department's "clearinghouse" for rapid prototyping in support of First Responder requirements. In addition to their own research into emergent capabilities that can support those on the front lines of homeland security and disaster response, TechSolutions also hosts the FirstResponder.gov website so that police, fire and EMS personnel can push their capability gaps to DHS for solution development.

Admiral (ret.) Jay Cohen, Undersecretary of Homeland Security for Science & Technology and the former Chief of Naval Research, brought this concept from the Office of Naval Research when he took the reins at DHS S&T two years ago. As a former ONR-sponsored "Science Advisor" in direct support of the operational forces, I've seen firsthand the immense value of engaging those with the greatest need to create lasting solutions.

From vital sign monitoring tools (akin to the Star Trek "Tricorder") to biometric identification devices, a low-profile breathing apparatus, and man-portable chem-bio detectors, TechSolutions offers solutions to serve our First Responders -- and has the charter and the budget to make a real difference.

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] DHS & VMASC

Dr./BG(ret) Mike McGinnis, Executive Director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) in Suffolk, VA, spoke on the theory and modeling of infrastructure interrelationships at one of this morning's two dozen "training sessions" at the DHS S&T Stakeholders' Conference. Mike is an old friend from my USJFCOM days, and it is great to see how far VMASC has come from traffic modeling at an amusement park to pioneering research in seven "clusters" (including military/homeland security, social science, enterprise engineering and computation/artificial intelligence).

Labels: ,

[Liveblog] DHS S&T

I've checked in to the Ronald Reagan International Trade & Conference Center in DC's "Federal Triangle", and will be liveblogging the Dept of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Stakeholders' Conference. Expect to see MountainRunner, Selil and other noteworthy 'bloggers over the next few days.

Labels: ,