Archive for the ‘Disruptive Tech’ Category

That’s One Way To Defeat Paratroopers

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Finland, during the Continuation war.

Disruptive Tech – Home Brewed Pistol Firing Drone

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Here’s another example of, “just becuase you can, doesn’t mean you should.” 

We’re pretty sure this isn’t the first armed civilian drone, and it won’t be the last, that is until someone does something stupid and there’s a crackdown. Some don’t think it’s real but this guy did some analysis of the footage and believes it is:

It’s Art, Really

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Yesterday, I attended a panel at the Atlantic Council on the new novel, “Ghost Fleet” by PW Singer and August Cole which supposes a future conflict. This recruiting poster was created as part of the complimentary Art of World War III project also hosted by the Atlantic Council.

Chris Martin and Ben Mauro
“Make History”

All of the art can be seen at but this one reamins my favorite for a variety of reasons.

Atlantic Council’s “Envisioning The Future of Urban Warfare”

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Awhile back I mentioned the upcoming Envisioning The Future of Urban Warfare panel presented by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. This is the fourth in a series of “The Art Of Future Warfare”. The Atlantic Council is dedicated to bringing new voices and ideas to the national security arena. It holds numerous symposiums throughout the year and publishes various studies.

Somehow the comments in the post where I mentioned this event went sideways with readers concerned that this was some group of whacko artists hell bent to leverage a visit to America’s foreign battlefields in order to get a glimpse of realism in order to make their more realistic. The truth of the matter is the opposite. We need them. Sessions like this are used by think tanks to leverage the imagination of artists and help develop a “concept of the possible” regarding future operational environments. The idea is to envision what the environment might look like, but also how our adversaries might fight. Their creativity was put to work to illuminate novel concepts and disruptive technologies in the 2040-2050 timeframe.

The “Envisioning The Future of Urban Warfare” session consisted of three panelists guided by August Cole, Director, Art of Future Warfare Project at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council. Two panelsists are artists in their own right and the third, an intelligence analyst amd advisor to the US government. All focused their efforts to offer some insight into future operating environments.

Max Brooks

Author Max Brooks is well known to many. His focus has been on Urban Chaos and comes to prominence in his works, World War Z and Extinction Parade.

He offered these insights:

-We are the world’s first isolationist superpower. Brooks said he is convinced that the war of 2050 has already stated. It isn’t a conflict yet, it’s an environmental dispute, a border issue, a tribal turf war. About 2030, the war starts, and in 2050, we are drawn in. This goes back to his point that we are a reluctant superpower and leery about wading in.

-America is very good at reinventing itself. We adapt as a nation, in fairly short periods of time. As an example he explained that the Army that went into World War Two was quite different than the Army that emerged triumphant in 1945.

-Multiculturalism is our strength. No matter where we go in the world, we have diaspora living here who can bridge across cultures and we have mega cities that are similar to those we will see in the future. He did however, add one comment about those megacities that struck me as flippant, “Thanks to the gun lobby, they are armed to the teeth.”

-As a medium, Brooks mentioned that he needs science fiction to be able to educate. He went on to said that in order to look forward, we need to look back. In WWZ, he did exactly that. Take the Battle of Yonkers vignette for instance. It’s based on history. He also suggests we look sideways for other, similar situations.

One thing impressed me. Max Brooks has been studying. He understands the concept of the elements of national power, or DIME (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic). Even our federal government, outside of the military seems oblivious to the concept that we wage conflict as a nation and not just via force of arms.

Brooks also gave some good advice, “Always try to feel like a seventh grader, the dumbest person in the room. Then you’re learning.”

Interestingly, Max Brooks related that he is dyslexic and didn’t pick up his first book until he was 16 when he read “Hunt for Red October”. Tom Clancy was very influential. He was not only entertained by the book but also educated and this helps you understand how he uses science fiction to inform as well as entertain.

Jon Chang

Many of you know Jon Chang for his work on the “Black Powder, Red Earth” video games and graphic novels. He also works for Haley Strategic Partners.

Chang sees art as an expression of data. BPRE was written based on study, but of experience, more than of raw data. He had access to several people with extensive experience in Iraq that helped him understand the environmemt.

Based on what he has learned studying modern conflict, Chang made a couple of observations.

-Tools may change but the techniques don’t.

-There are no shortcuts.

-People are always in conflict. It’s about managing that conflict to make it unpalatable enough that they don’t escalate.

Chang also sees future conflict very much a function of corporate, rather than national interests. He believes that corporations will work engagement angles like funding NGOs in order to build goodwill.

When asked what art form influenced him growing up, Chang mentioned Manga.

Dr Erin M Simpson

Dr Erin Simpson is the President and CEO of Caerus Associates. She isn’t the typical artist. Her training is in Political Science but has a great deal of experience in using statistics and other data to support analysis. Most recently, she has examined cities as systems, making her contribution to this panel most excellent, in my opinion.

Dr Simpson’s observations:

-Her recent work on a Mega cities project led her to conclude that cities are not an engineering problem, but rather a systems problem. She sees an explosion of connectivity and a move to instrument cities which has led to an ubiquitousness of sensors. As far as analysis of the urban environment goes, Dr Simpson advises to look at how a city behaves as a system and remove the emotion from the equation.

-She’d like to see a narrative piece added to intelligence analysis. Most information is presented as raw data and a narrative agent might be used to create a story from the data. Furthermore, a storybook tool could be used for predictive analysis to see how outcomes might change as different data is fed into the system.

-Her work is driven by human and organizational behavior. She considers who has power but doesn’t stop there, wanting to determine the source of that power. Take, for instance, access to water. Is it just access, or is it something else like having control of the village with the engineers that manage the water system?

-Nature abhors a vacuum. Even though a state doesn’t have control of an area, someone does.

-Regarding expeditionary operations, she says that we won’t bring everything with us anymore and will rely on host nation services.

Dr Simpson was very careful to differentiate urban operations vice urban warfare since there is such a wide mission set that may be accomplished in urban areas.

I found this comment regatding US intervention abroad most enlightening, “It’s the santa clause problem, the State department is not coming.”

She is fascinated by discovery. It’s not about collecting info once you know what the problem is, but rather, the real issue is identifying the problem itself. For example, having a hunch that there is an international Islamic terrorist network. The hard work is in the proving it. The book, “Band Played On” that chronicals the discovery if the AIDS virus is about that; “There’s a disease killing people. What is it?” She also mentioned Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” as particularly influential.

Alex Brady

Artist Alex Brady Winner of the War-Art challenge contest. It was obviously inspired by the events of 1999 in Tiannemen Square. I’m curious though, what does it say to you?


Blast From The Past – What Kind of Leader Are You?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

An Army buddy reminded me about the Hammerstein-Equord leadership model. Below is a story initially published on SSD in May, 2012.

In the mid-1800s a Prussian Field Marshal named Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke developed a means to evaluate his officers.

Smart & Lazy – I make them my Commanders because they make the right thing happen but find the easiest way to accomplish the mission.
Smart & Energetic – I make them my General Staff Officers because they make intelligent plans that make the right things happen.
Dumb & Lazy – There are menial tasks that require an officer to perform that they can accomplish and they follow orders without causing much harm.
Dumb & Energetic – These are dangerous and must be eliminated. They cause things to happen but the wrong things so cause trouble.

I’ve also seen this attributed to various German Army leaders beginning in the inter-war years and seems to convey prevailing thinking. It boils leadership down into its simplest form and measures the leader on two axes: Intelligence (competence) and industriousness (or lack thereof).

As Chief of the Army High Command, the Anti-Nazi Gen Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord oversaw the composition of the German manual on military unit command (Truppenführung), dated 17 October 1933. In it, he proposed a classification scheme for military leaders.

‘I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined.
Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff.
The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties.
Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions.
One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.’

Remember, in the German model, the most promising go to the General Staff for grooming. In the American model, the best and brightest take command. Considering that, do you think its still a viable model?

Local Motors – US Army CoCreate Make-a-Thon Vehicle Build Update

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

In this video, Giovani from Local Motors gave an update on the company’s enhancements to the Kawasaki Teryx 750cc for the purpose of the Army CoCreate Make-a-Thon. CoCreate is a Rapid Equipping Force-sponsored crowd sourcing effort that nominates operational challenges and works to fulfill those shortfalls with a material solution.

The goal of the Make-a-Thon was to develop a Mobile Command Post that supports dismounted soldier operations. Two Make-a-Thons were held for the MCP: the first, held December 9th-13th of last year, was for design concepts and first iteration prototyping. The second, which took place January 13th-16th, was held to further refine the community-developed design of the MCP.

Army CoCreate is an online community developed by Local Motors and the Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF).

BTW, nice shirt Giovanni.

Metal Sintering – Making 3D Printed Guns A Reality

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Recoil magazine offers a great follow up to our recent story “3D Printing? Is The Genie Out Of The Bottle?“.

Meanwhile, from a laser sintering 3D printer in Texas…

Solid Concepts has manufactured what they are referring to as the “world’s first 3D Printed Metal Gun.” The weak point with previous 3D printed pistols has been the parts such as the barrel that are traditionally made of metal. But with the laser sintering process these can be fabricated from metal. With this model, the grip is an SLS (Selective Laser Sintered) carbon-fiber filled nylon hand grip.

Read more:


There’s a whole new crowd over at Recoil and they are doing a great job. Check out their story at

3D Printing? Is The Genie Out Of The Bottle?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

There was a time, just a few months ago, where the main stream media was almost hysterical over the possible threat posed by these home made firearms that can be more difficult to detect due to their polymer construction. Patterns for 3D printed firearms continue to roll out at a regular pace. For example, plans for the 9×19mm Parabellum Howard Pistol (after ex Australian PM, John Howard) by RollaTroll were recently released on the 3D CAD file sharing site, DEFCAD.

The Howard

But as 3D printing becomes more and more mainstream, will it be “too late” for lawmaking bodies to control this intellectual frontier? Just this past summer, designers created a 3D printed house in Amsterdam.

3D house

Internet ethicists continue to ponder whether 3D printers will become so commonplace that the genie can’t be stuffed back in the bottle or, whether the roll out will be throttled as means are developed to control the technology. And, we consider how will intellectual property laws affect their deployment into the marketplace? In the end, this may be the ultimate threat to widespread use of this phenomenon that shifts manufacturing to small workshops and eventually into the home. Although, the moral dilemma remains. Not only could printers pump out illicit goods but also counterfeit versions of patented technologies. Based on what we’ve seen regarding recorded music and film, could hardgood manufacturers be far behind as their market transforms before their eyes?