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 Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project podcast. 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, Strategic Planner and then Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute where he was instrumental in the design and formation of the institute. He has just returned from walking the battlefields of Nagorno-Karabakh, gleaning lessons learned about modern combat on complex terrain.
Jim Greer (Colonel, USA-Ret.) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1977 and served 30 years in CONUS, Europe, and the Middle East, including combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and the Balkans. He commanded an infantry-heavy battalion task force in Bosnia, led the OIF Study Group in the invasion of Iraq, was Chief of Staff of Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq, and commanded 1st Armor Training Brigade. Agent of change, futurist, and concept developer, he played a significant role in Army transformation for Force XXI digitization and the Objective Force, was the Army’s representative to DOD’s Revolution in Military Affairs, and led the transformation of Initial Entry Training from a Cold War paradigm to one that prepared Soldiers for 21st Century combat. An educator and trainer, he taught tactics at West Point and was the Director of the School of Advanced Military Studies.
COL Scott Shaw is the G-3, U.S. Army I Corps. He previously commanded the Asymmetric Warfare Group, providing global operational advisory support to U.S. Army forces to rapidly transfer current threat-based observations and solutions to tactical and operational commanders in order to defeat emerging asymmetric threats and enhance multi-domain effectiveness.
In our interviews with the aforementioned SMEs, we explore their respective experiences in modern warfare at the “bleeding edge” of battle, the future of conflict, and the requirements and challenges facing future ground warfighters. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interviews:
Stay tuned to the Mad Scientist Laboratory for our next episode of The Convergence podcast -- Innovation at the Edge -- featuring senior military leaders, field and company grade officers, and young Soldiers discussing innovation at the unit and individual level, thinking differently about modern warfare, and implementing grassroots transformation across the U.S. Army.
In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Rob Albritton, Senior Director and AI Practice Lead at Octo Consulting Group. A former U.S. Army Geospatial Research Lab Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer at MITRE, Rob spent several years growing NVIDIA’s public sector team alongside the world’s foremost thought leaders on high-performance computing, AI, and deep learning. Rob now leads Octo’s oLabs AI Center of Excellence, where he guides and shapes Octo’s AI capability, strategy, and vision. In this episode, we discuss a realistic vision of the future of AI, its integration into the DoD, and what the Government can learn from the private sector. Some of the highlights include the following: Academics and industry tend to overestimate the readiness of effective AI, although real progress may occur at a rate faster than we expect. DoD can learn data best practices from industry and apply it to unique DoD practices. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, but each AI challenge should still be tackled in a unique way. AI publications have slowed, although we are not necessarily nearing an “AI winter.” Innovative applications for deep learning are still being discovered, and there is still significant academic interest in AI and profit to be made in the field. DoD focuses on the tech industry as a hub for AI talent, but this rhetoric may actually deter talent from working with the DoD. The military should consider a “greening” process to encourage young talent to connect with the military on AI applications. The DoD should promote its relationship with the AI industry by emphasizing transparency in its AI development and its use of “AI for good.” S. Soldiers are likely to ...
Jennifer McArdle is an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and a Product Strategist at Improbable LLC, an emerging global leader in distributed simulation technology for military planning, training, and decision support. Her research focuses on military innovation, readiness, and synthetic training. She currently serves as an expert member of a NATO technical working group that is developing cyber effects for the military alliance’s mission and campaign simulations. Her work has been featured in Real Clear World, The Cyber Defense Review, National Defense Magazine, and War on the Rocks, among others. Ms. McArdle previously served as an Assistant Professor of Cyber Defense at Salve Regina University, where she lectured on the relationship between national security and disruptive technologies. In our interview with Ms. McArdle, we discuss the future of the Synthetic Training Environment, flexibility and scalability in training systems, and the critical need for a new agile approach to training that can keep pace with the dynamic character of warfare. The following bullet points highlight key insights from our interview: Synthetic training will be instrumental in providing the next generation of Soldiers with the tools they need to succeed in a new era of warfare. The adoption of synthetic training and simulation will empower realistic individual and collective multi-echelon and multi-domain training and mission rehearsal, advanced wargaming, and enhanced decision-making. The New American Way of Training Initiative at CNAS examines how the military will be required to train and fight in the future, using the Cold War as a model. During the Cold War, intense tension and sporadic ‘hot’ proxy conflicts spurred a ...
In this latest episode of “The Convergence,” we talk with Dr. Claire Nelson, the Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies (ICS). Per Forbes, Dr. Nelson “is a strategic thinker, change agent, keynote speaker and innovator,” and is listed among that publication’s 50 Leading Female Futurists. Dr. Nelson is also Ideation Leader of The Futures Forum and Sagient Futures LLC, which provides strategic foresight and development futures consulting. She is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the World Futures Review and The Journal of Futures Studies, and is an emerging voice as a Black Futurist. In today’s podcast, Dr. Nelson discusses a smart futures approach to forecasting, technologies and science in small island nations, and positive impacts on the future: Everything is a system. National challenges can be viewed from a systems approach by breaking them down to the sum of the parts and then adding them back up. You have to pick the right tool for the problem you are trying to solve. Future technology is often presented as utopian. But we need to filter that idea through the smart futures lens. What happens when the technology fails, is compromised, or hacked? There must be forethought about the legal and ethical systems and processes. All of these aspects must be part of the framework. Our brains oftentimes can’t negotiate many and varying opposing forces as mathematical equations. But if we translate engineering and mathematical concepts into a story, our minds can more readily assimilate, accept, and understand these complex concepts. Similarly, if we break complex and interconnected systems of systems down into characters in a story, we’re better able to connect with ...