The Convergence - An Army Mad Scientist Podcast

The Convergence is an Army Mad Scientist podcast with a distinct focus on divergent viewpoints, a c ... more

Latest Episodes

53

March 24, 2022 00:50:37
53. Innovation at the Edge

53. Innovation at the Edge

In today’s interview, Senior Leaders and Soldiers discuss how the Army is successfully harnessing its disruptive thinkers to cultivate innovation at the tactical level. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview: The 3rd Infantry Division’s The Marne Think Tank, the 101st Airborne Division’s EAGLEWERX, and the 18th Airborne Corps’ Dragon’s Lair are leading the U.S. Army’s efforts to crowd-source innovative ideas from every echelon of the force. While innovation tends to focus on technology, these organizations also invite creative ideas on policy, process, and quality of life.  These organizations provide opportunities for Soldiers to pitch their ideas to senior leaders, then collaborate with their peers to refine their ideas and create actionable solutions. Soldiers themselves lead their projects, developing leadership, creativity, and problem-solving skills.  Innovation requires both time and resources — the Army must dedicate specific time to innovation, particularly outside of focused technology development efforts.  This tactical-level innovation, harnessing insights from Soldiers on better ways to perform missions and duties, is often overlooked. Ideas can range from the adoption of preparedness measures for assault survivors to new methods of range scheduling, team cohesion building, and rucksack transportation.  Prerequisites for innovation include a welcoming environment and platform rather than extensive incentive structure. Soldiers already want to improve the Army – providing a positive space for them to proactively engage and collaborate on problems allows disruptive seekers to find each other and excel at innovation. The Army can cultivate its tactical innovators by fostering partnerships with academia and industry. By building a network ecosystem of interested parties, Soldiers are empowered to leverage existing technologies and processes in new ways to help solve Army problems now. Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of The Convergence podcast — Crossing the Valley ...

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52

March 10, 2022 00:36:37
52. War in Ukraine: The Urban Fight is Happening Now with Maj. (Ret.) John Spencer

52. War in Ukraine: The Urban Fight is Happening Now with Maj. (Ret.) John Spencer

MAJ John Spencer (USA-Ret.) is the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum.  He served over twenty-five years in the U.S. Army as an infantry Soldier, with two combat tours in Iraq as both an Infantry Platoon Leader and Company Commander.  He has also served as a Ranger Instructor with the Army’s Ranger School, a Joint Chief of Staff and Army Staff intern, fellow with the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, and Strategic Planner and Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute where he was instrumental in the design and formation of the institute.  In today’s interview, MAJ John Spencer (USA-ret.) discusses the on-going war in Ukraine, urban warfare strategies employed by both Russian and Ukrainian military forces, the changing character of warfare, and what this portends for the future of conflict. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview: Both with respect to the current Russia/Ukraine conflict and with modern conflict in general, urban warfare strategies are critical.This is true whether the objective requires getting past urban terrain or involves an objective that is urban in nature.  Despite Russia’s initial plans falling in line with traditional invasions, characterized by a large mass of forces that are then rapidly deployed in a “shock and awe” campaign, Ukraine’s combined arms approach to defense has prevented Russia from quickly gaining control of critical areas. Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) and Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) have been very effective in this conflict due to Russia trading combined arms operations for speed. Russia’s rush to seize ground objectives in convoy without effectively utilizing their air superiority has led to many of their ground assets being destroyed.  It is tough to find a recent battle where an urban ...

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51

February 24, 2022 00:27:49
51. Then and Now: Using the Past to Secure the Future with W02 Paul Barnes

51. Then and Now: Using the Past to Secure the Future with W02 Paul Barnes

Paul Barnes is a serving Warrant Officer in the British Army, employed as a Doctrine Writer at the Land Warfare Centre. He is uniquely a Chief of the Air Staff’s Fellow, a Chief of the General Staff’s Fellow, and a former MWI fellow at West Point in 2021. In today’s interview, Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Barnes, British Army, discusses his article Learning the Wrong Lessons:  Biases, the Rejection of History, and Single-Issue Zealotry in Modern Military Thought, featured by our colleagues at Modern War Institute; learning from historical conflicts; and fighting against “neophilia” and “presentism”.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview: In the aforementioned article, Paul Barnes discusses the dangers of “presentism,” in which current events are catastrophized and used to inform the future without adequate acknowledgement of historical context. This mindset creates two dangerous fallacies:  1) that the world is more dangerous than it has been before; and 2) that technology is developing more rapidly than ever before.These statements are both false and promote the idea that history cannot help us understand our operational environment.  The misconceptions promoted by presentism are generally accepted due to a lack of contextual historical understanding.However, militaries also promote the ideas of presentism to secure greater budget allocations. Analysts, too, use presentism to promote the legitimacy of their ideas and engagement with their work.  Leveraging historical context to avoid the bias of presentism can be challenging. Even information from on-the-ground analysts throughout history will include bias. Multiple perspectives from history should be recognized, thus creating the opportunity to ‘learn from committee’ and avoid the pitfalls of biased reporting.  The age of the tank is not over, as seen in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Modern and future warfare will ...

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50

February 10, 2022 01:13:36
50. Disinformation Threats to the All-Volunteer Force with MAJ Joe Littell and CPT Maggie Smith

50. Disinformation Threats to the All-Volunteer Force with MAJ Joe Littell and CPT Maggie Smith

MAJ Joe Littell is a U.S. Army officer and researcher assigned to the Army Cyber Institute at the United States Military Academy. He has been an instructor in the Math and History departments, teaching statistics and intelligence history. His research includes computational propaganda, open source intelligence, narrative warfare, de-platforming, and generative media (such as deepfakes).  CPT Maggie Smith, PhD, is a U.S. Army cyber officer also assigned to the Army Cyber Institute, where she is a scientific researcher, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, and an affiliated faculty of the Modern War Institute. She is also the director of the Competition in Cyberspace Project.  In our interview with MAJ Littell and CPT Smith, we discussed the impact of information operations on recruitment, retention, and overall force readiness, and how we can gain information advantage over our adversaries.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview: Western liberal democracies’ concept of the internet as a platform for the free exchange of ideas is not shared by Russia and China, who regularly manage the information available to their populations via their concept of “cyber sovereignty.” As a result, Russia and China have extensive experience in manipulating online information to influence both domestic and foreign populations via propaganda. The United States has not developed this skillset.  While Russia and China see information operations as a critical component of every operation, the United States has yet to adopt this strategy. Consequently, the U.S. is lagging behind its peer competitors in information warfare, oftentimes considering the narrative-building component of its actions only as an afterthought.  The technologies facilitating today’s social media age are not the first to impact information operations — the printing ...

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49

January 27, 2022 00:27:45
49. Weaponizing Weather: The Global Security Threat of the Future with Dr. Elizabeth Chalecki

49. Weaponizing Weather: The Global Security Threat of the Future with Dr. Elizabeth Chalecki

Elizabeth L. Chalecki is an Associate Professor of International Relations and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Nebraska Omaha, a Research Fellow in the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and a Research Chair with Fulbright Canada. Her expertise lies in the areas of climate change and security, international environmental policy, and the intersection of science/technology and International Relations.  Dr. Chalecki has authored groundbreaking research on geoengineering and just war, and has published over 25 books, articles, and chapters on diverse topics such as climate change and Arctic security, environmental terrorism, climate change and international law, public perceptions of environmental issues, and water in outer space. She also serves as an environmental security subject matter expert for NATO.  Dr. Chalecki holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University, a M.Sc. in Environmental Geography from the University of Toronto, and an M.A. from Boston University. In our interview with Dr. Chalecki, we explore the broad global security implications of climate change and manipulation; their effects on Army and DoD readiness, operations, and mission requirements; and potential approaches for mitigating and regulating these threats.  The following bullet points highlight key insights from our discussion: The consequences of climate change will force countries to reconsider their definitions of security. Instead of traditional military force size and strength, the stability of the environment will reflect the security of nations. Importantly, climate change is a security threat interconnected with the actions of other countries.  Temperature increases and precipitation changes caused by climate change will have incalculable second order effects. Food security, civil unrest, migration, border insecurity, and disease patterns will all be shaped by the changing ...

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48

January 06, 2022 00:40:01
Episode Cover

48. Through the Soldiers' Eyes: The Future of Ground Combat with Denys Antipov, Heydar Mirza, Nolan Peterson, John Spencer, Jim Greer, and COL Scott Shaw

The character of warfare has consistently changed over time, with technology evolving from edged weapons, bows and arrows, gunpowder, and battlefield mechanization, to more advanced technologies today, including long-range precision weapons, robotics, and autonomy.  However, warfare remains an intrinsic human endeavor, with varied and profound effects felt by Soldiers on the ground.  To explore this experience with those engaged in the tactical fight, we spoke with the following combat veterans, frontline reporters, and military training experts for this episode of The Convergence: Denys Antipov is a Ukrainian war veteran who served as a platoon leader and reconnaissance drone operator with the 81st Airborne Brigade in the Ukrainian Army, defending his homeland and fighting Russian paramilitary groups and anti-government separatists in the Donbas in 2015-2016.   Heydar Mirza spent 36 days on the frontline as a war reporter in Terter and Agdere during the 44-day Second Nagorno-Karabakh war during the Fall of 2020.  He is currently the program author and host of the weekly RADIUS military analysis program on Azerbaijan Public Television and Radio Broadcasting Company – ICTIMAI TV and Caliber.az YouTube channel.  Nolan Peterson is Senior Editor at Coffee or Die Magazine and The Daily Signal‘s Ukraine-based foreign correspondent. A former U.S. Air Force special operations pilot and veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he was among the first journalists to embed with Ukrainian forces in combat in eastern Ukraine. In Iraq, he embedded with Kurdish peshmerga forces in operations around Mosul and Sinjar. He has reported from throughout Eastern Europe, France, the U.K., and was onboard the USS George H.W. Bush off the Syrian coast to cover the air war against ISIS. John Spencer is the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute, Co-Director of the Urban Warfare ...

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