The Convergence is an Army Mad Scientist podcast with a distinct focus on divergent viewpoints, a challenging of assumptions, and insights from thought leaders and subject matter experts. The purpose of "The Convergence" is to explore technological, economic, and societal trends that disrupt the operational environment and to get a diversity of opinions on the character of warfare.
59. Outsiders Solving Wicked Problems with Shubhi Mishra
While Shubhi Mishra, founder and CEO of Raft, is a lawyer and data scientist by training, she’s better known as an intentional government technology (GovTech) disruptor at heart. She loves solving complex problems, even the kind that give you a headache while you’re working through them. But that process of discovery, of realization, and coming to a solution makes it all worthwhile. Her passion is working with bleeding-edge technology focused on the defense sector. Raft provides an innovation space for people who are similarly mission-focused, tackling vexing challenges with passion and enthusiasm. Ms. Mishra seeks to inspire other women in and out of the GovTech space and excite them enough to join the movement of providing better solutions and services to the defense industry through sustainable, emerging technology.
In today’s interview, Ms. Mishra discusses wicked problems in national security; finding creative, mission-focused solutions; and equipping the DoD with sustainable, emerging technology. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:
Raft’s strategy seeks to build a data fabric, or mesh, on top of data lakes, to reduce silos and increase communication among data resources. This enables faster decision making, which ultimately benefits our warfighters.
When delivering a data product, it is important to maintain a human-centered design which considers for whom you are building the product. It is critical to experiment with the project and obtain user feedback.
When working with historical datasets, one must consider:  If the full data is present. Can other datasets be integrated to get a better picture? How will we measure the success of the algorithm we are using the data to build? Will we obtain a new result, or are we simply pattern matching?  Who can we get comments from to ensure we have a beneficial feedback loop?
Warfare data presents unique challenges, as [thankfully] there is not high repetition. However, you do not necessarily need high volumes of data to get useful information. Being cautious about what outcome is being measured, using algorithms to pattern match, and enabling different values to be introduced for fair and non-biasedoutcomes can produce beneficial and informative results.
The Department of Defense (DoD), working with external partners, helps illuminate fresh perspectives and challenge assumptions, as well as pullnew talent. There is an appetite among private sector companies to work with the DoD, but many times companies are not aware of such opportunities.
Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of The Convergence, to be published in a fortnight on 7 July 2022.
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58. The Light on the Hill: America and Non-Terrestrial War
COL Stefan Banach (USA-Ret.) is a Distinguished Member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and served in that organization for nine years, culminating with command of the 3rd Ranger Battalion from 2001-2003. He led U.S. Army Rangers during a historic night combat parachute assault into Afghanistan on October 19, 2001, as the “spearhead” for the Global War on Terror. Steve subsequently led U.S. Army Rangers in a second combat parachute assault into Al Anbar Province in western Iraq in 2003. He served with distinction in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 2010. Since then, he has provided executive consulting services to a diverse range of clients at a number of prestigious institutions. Steve Banach also serves as the Director, Army Management Staff College, an element of Army University responsible for “igniting the leadership potential for every Army civilian.”In today’s interview with COL Banach, we explore non-terrestrial war, weapons of mass deception, and why we are at a pivotal point in the defense of our country. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:
The United States is experiencing a new form of conflict known as “non-terrestrial warfare.” Our adversaries no longer seek to confront us on the traditional battlefield. Instead, they will use non-tangible capabilities in cyber, big data, space, and the information space to influence entire societies and create tangible results, the effects of which may remain invisible for weeks, months, or even years. It is an unbounded, global, strategic form of maneuver, performed by nation and non- state actors that is an enduring, new approach to warfare.
Non-terrestrial warfare encompasses strategies like mis-and disinformation — weapons of mass deception — where social media has emerged as a tool that can influence the behavior of entire populations. Data collected on human behavior while operating in this space creates new opportunities for actors to understand, exploit, and manipulate collective behaviors. This is a pre-meditated and well-orchestrated campaign that we are seeing implemented in algorithmic warfare today, dividing populations and creating dis-equilibrium and systemic shock in our society — it is a brilliant, elegant, strategic form of maneuver that is being levied against us. It is not by accident, and it is pervasive and growing!
As witnessed in the on-going conflict in Ukraine, the role of non-state actors is increasingly important.Elon Musk maneuvered Spacex satellites and provided Starlink ground stations to the Ukrainian government to ensure continued satellite internet communications in the face of Russian cyberattacks. Hackers targeted Russian communications infrastructure, while Ukrainian citizens engaged in hybrid warfare in the defense of their homeland. In non-terr
57. The Most Consequential Adversaries with GEN Charles A. Flynn
Gen. Flynn is a native of Middletown, Rhode Island and Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Business Management. General Flynn is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses at Fort Benning, GA. He holds two master’s degrees, one in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI, and one in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy from the National Defense University.
In today’s interview, Gen. Flynn discusses the unique pacing threat posed by China, building interoperability with partner nations, and the future of multi-domain operations in INDOPACOM. The following bullet points highlight some of the key insights from our interview:
- While it is often argued that future conflicts in the Pacific will be fought in the air and at sea, the U.S. Army remains critical in securing our regional interests. The Army continues to build relationships with partners on land, and will likely be the only Service not hindered by China’s Anti-Access /Area Denial (A2/AD) system, which is not designed to find, fix, and destroy land forces. As a result, land power will serve as a counterweight to Chinese aspirations both regionally and globally.
- The Army’s Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) integrates live, virtual, and constructive environments, enabling our forces and partners to conduct training via a mobile, regional training center in the Pacific’s Arctic, Jungle, and Archipelago conditions and environments. JPMRC enables the Army to maintain a constant presence in the region, train, and build readiness with our allies and partners.
- While training with technology in the region of operation is important, relationships matter. Building strong relationships between individuals, organizations, and countries is vital for deterrence by denial. We rely on our allies and partners for their understanding of the geography and the human terrain — the cultures, the societies, and the peoples of the region.
- There are three types of interoperability: human, technical, and procedural. There are also three dimensions: human, physical, and information. The crossover or intersection between interoperability and dimensions is the human. By focusing on the human dimension and investing in and building human interoperability with our allies and partners, other vital components of interoperability will follow.
- There are four principles for successful network integration. First, it will require an open architecture so Joint forces and mission partners may easily plug into it. Second, there must be a better way to both grant and evaluate the risk of granting authority to operate within these frameworks. Next, the Army needs to be more data-centric. Finally, our forces need to become transport agnostic for our data.
Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of The Convergence podcast featuring COL Stefan Banach (USA-Ret.), Director, Army Management St
56. The Secret Sauce of America's Army with GEN Paul E. Funk II
Gen. Paul E. Funk II, CG, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. (U.S. Army photo)
General Paul E. Funk II assumed duties as the 17th Commanding General, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), on June 21, 2019. As TRADOC commander, Gen. Funk is responsible for 32 Army schools organized under 10 Centers of Excellence that recruit, train, and educate more than 750,000 Soldiers and service members annually. Gen. Funk was born at Fort Hood and graduated from Fort Knox High School. He was commissioned an Armor Officer through ROTC upon graduation from Montana State University. Gen. Funk has commanded at every level, Company through Corps; his combat and operational experience includes six deployments in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve. Gen. Funk holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communications, from Montana State University, and a Master of Science degree in administration, from Central Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Armor Basic Officer Leaders and Advanced Courses, the Command and General Staff College, and completed his Senior Service College as a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Technology, University of Texas at Austin.
In today’s interview, Gen. Funk addresses how the Army is modernizing doctrine given the Operational Environment, what are the challenges facing our all-volunteer force, what the Army can observe and learn from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and how it is adapting to the changing character of warfare. The following bullet points highlight some of the key insights from our interview:
The all-volunteer force is at risk.Demographic trends show that the population of individuals qualified for recruitment is diminishing. Finding the “Secret Sauce” that motivates people to serve and stay in the Army will be vital to ensuring the Nation’s Senior Service remains an effective and capable force.
Professionalizing the U.S. military gave the United States a quarter century of global dominance. At its core, it prioritized the Soldier – a mission that should still be emphasized today. Though the character of war is changing, it remains, in essence, a human endeavor. Today, prioritizing the Soldier must be done holistically – nutrition, sleep, and education will all contribute to mission success.
Education is the best tool to prepare our Soldiers, and should be prioritized at every echelon.Strong doctrine can help form successful training programs and modernize the Soldier to out-think our adversary. Such education should also teach ‘disciplined disobedience,’ enabling Soldier-Innovators to adapt creatively to ensure mission success.
Soldiers and their families will continue to be targets of disinformation.As a result, it is essential to promote trust in the chain of command, and to ensure&nb
55. Going Boldly: Military Thinking with Science Fiction
To Boldy Go, edited by COL Jonathan Klug and Steven Leonard, and published by Casemate Publishers in 2021, is subtitled “Leadership, Strategy, and Conflict in the 21st Century and Beyond.” Army Mad Scientist’s The Convergence podcasters Luke Shabro and Matthew Santaspirt explore how science fiction can inform the Army about the Operational Environment and the changing character of warfare with the books co-editors and contributors:COL Jonathan Klug is a U.S. Army Strategist serving as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Strategy, Planning, and Operations at the U.S. Army War College. Commissioned as an Armor officer, he served in Haiti, Bosnia, South Korea, Egypt, and Iraq. His strategy assignments included writing U.S. Army, U.S. Joint, and NATO Joint counter-insurgency doctrine; teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy; serving as V Corps Deputy Plans and Strategy Officer; and strategic planning in the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and Operation Resolute Support Headquarters. He holds degrees from the U.S. Military Academy, Louisiana State University, and the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. He is a PhD candidate in Military and Naval History at the University of New Brunswick. COL Klug co-edited To Boldly Go and co-authored “Yours is the Superior” with Steven Leonard (below), and contributed “You Rebel Scum!” and “To Live and Die at My Command.” Steven Leonard is an award-winning faculty member at the University of Kansas, where he chairs graduate programs in Organizational Leadership and Supply Chain Management. As a former military strategist and the creative force behind the defense microblog Doctrine Man, he is a career writer and speaker with a passion for developing and mentoring the next generation of thought leaders. He is a senior fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point; the co-founder of the national security blog Divergent Options; co-founder and board member of the Military Writers Guild; and a member of the editorial review board of the Arthur D. Simons Center‘s Interagency Journal. He is the author, co-author, or editor of five books, numerous professional articles, countless blog posts, and is a prolific military cartoonist. Mr. Leonard co-edited To Boldly Go and co-authored “Yours is the Superior” with COL Klug (above), and contributed “Beware the Beast Man” and “The Mirror Crack’d.”
54. Crossing the Valley of Death for Innovation with Trish Martinelli and David Schiff
National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) is a problem-solving network in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that adapts to the emerging needs of those who serve in the defense of our national security. NSIN is dedicated to the work of bringing together defense, academic, and entrepreneurial innovators to solve national security problems in new ways.
Trish Martinelli, At-Large Director, NSIN, is an accomplished Senior Intelligence professional with a strong background in business, applicable analysis, and a keen sense of how to implement innovative planning in support of customer satisfaction. With more than 25 years in Government, Military, Analytical, Middle East, Special Missions and Operations Expertise, she is adept and experienced in working with people of diverse backgrounds to maximize the benefit from relevant experience.
David Schiff, At-Large Director, NSIN, is working to change the culture of the DoD and Federal Government to favor innovation as a strategic advantage and strengthen the relationship between civilian industry and the Government to solve the world’s biggest problems. He seeks to bridge the gap that has developed between these ecosystems by building more collaborative, higher-trust, more empathetic, and creative environments, which will lead to the innovative solutions we need to ensure a better world for future generations.
In this episode, Ms. Martinelli and Mr. Schiff discuss innovation, the value of hackathons and crowdsourcing in harnessing the Nation’s intellect to benefit National Security, and integrating their programs in support of U.S. Army innovation. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview:
The DoD has created a series of innovation organizations. Each of these organizations has specific priorities tailored to the mission of the branch that oversees it. NSIN, however, serves as an innovation catalyst for the entire DoD, seeking to serve each branch and collaborate across the DoD to match Soldier-Innovators with creative thinkers and solutions.
NSIN prioritizes people, ideas, and technology to effectively provide innovative solutions to a wide variety of problems within the DoD.The DoD has found itself struggling to innovate due to its bureaucracy, which limits the questioning of authority, as well as the high fail-ratio of emerging technologies.
To prioritize people, NSIN seeks to connect a wide variety of innovators. It seeks flexible, adaptable, optimistic, realistic people with a Service Leader mindset to spread good ideas and best practices.They prioritize finding these individuals across racial, economic, gender, and education divides to include and elevate under-represented voices.
NSIN provides a guide across the ‘valley of death,’ where innovative solutions often become stuck between concept and
a MUST listen!
Love the variety of guests on this podcast, everything from authors to government officials! Very entertaining with great insights into how to improve our Army for the future. Love this show!
I find it deeply disconcerting that the commanding general of all Army training uses dissimilar terms interchangeably: “Ukraine” vs “the Ukraine”, or “China” vs “the Chinese.” I’m not saying this is why Funk is 0/2 in recent wars but it certainly didn’t help.
A great podcast!
Great conversations about security with leading experts and entertaining hosts. The perfect length for a quick break or car ride. A must listen!!