Tag Archives: military

The New Airpower: More than Warfare

When thinking about disaster relief and humanitarian aid, we often see NGOs as the major players. In addition, we often see governments and militaries as the bad guys in the field of development work. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the military is no longer confined to linear warfare. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, militaries dealt increasingly with natural disasters, humanitarian relief operations, resource conflicts, terrorism, small-scale conventional conflicts, and insurgencies. Some of the most prominent forces in disaster relief are militaries.

According to an article from the International Relations and Security Network in Zurich, the United States Air Force (USAF) recently modified its definition of airpower. In the past, airpower was limited to war-faring aircrafts and pioneering spacecraft. The definition of airpower now includes cyber power. It is important to note that USAF does not see cyber power as a channel for carrying out operations but rather an enabler that facilitates improved operations.

This new take on military operations just goes to show the increasing importance of ICTs. If the military is becoming increasingly involved in disaster relief and humanitarian aid, while it’s broadening its definition of airpower to include cyber technology, it sets the stage for utilizing ICTs in disasters. ICTs are not only useful in their own respects (early warning systems, government alerts on iPhones, locating missing persons, mapping, etc.), but they can be used to improve existing operations. ICTs could help the military, and NGOS as well, manage their soldiers/volunteers, track distribution of aid materials, improve efficiency of aid delivery, and the list goes on. If you needed a reason before to consider ICTs a crucial part of humanitarian work, take a look at the United States Air Force who is restructuring itself to include natural disasters as a part of its duties and ICTs a part of its anatomy.

The US Military Uses Syria to Study Social Media

After reading about social media and the Syrian Conflict in class and on the blog, I was curious as to what was being done with all of this information. I found an article detailing how students at the Naval Postgraduate School are working two projects that deal with categorizing and corralling information from social media.

The first is a software known as the Dynamic Twitter Network Analysis (DTNA) that has the ability to pull data from twitter by topic or hashtag and group it together. This is similar to how marketing has used twitter to follow trends, but could be harnessed to follow the potential uprisings and threats to security (because we have noted that twitter activity proceeds mass protests in this article)

The other program is specific to Syria, because the vulnerability of a number of sites containing weapons of mass destruction. The program similarly take information from not only twitter, but google, youtube, facebook etc. and looks for any indication that these sites could be in jeopardy. It is important to monitor because President Obama “plans to keep from entering the Syrian civil war unless chemical weapon stockpiles are exposed to danger” (Davis,1).

Syria has proved an excellent study for these tools because so much of their information is on social media. “It was unusual because unlike conventional war, these organizations don’t have funding or resources,” Lucente said. “There are no secure communications radios” making it very easy to access their information. (Davis,2) The rebels have also embraced social media to communicate with supporters, they have 647,000 likes on their facebook page and 78,000 people following their twitter which posts updates on progress and locations. They even update a Google maps detailing day to day strikes, movement, and videos.
These are new tools being used by the military, which are more efficient, but some question the legality of privacy rights and potential storage of information. This project represents some of the first Sentiment Analysis studies for the military and opens up a whole new age for military action. This also reminded me of the Disaster Relief technology that our guest speaker Sara Estes Cohen discussed, and how that is permeating throughout all of the departments in the government, albeit much more slowly in some.

Here is a video that further explores these projects at the Naval School. This article was found on Network World and written by Kerry Davis on November 9th 2012

Solar and Fuel Efficiency Technology Ideas Pitched to Military

This month, Marines turned to companies for renewable ideas. They invited 13 companies to their desert base to pitch them ideas about inventions and advancements in solar and fuel efficiency technology. The companies that showed up were almost all start ups. The developmental implications of this article are that technological advances are often spurred on by the military and eventually passed on to the private sector. A cutting edge solar power generator design picked up by the Pentagon today will likely end up being utilized in a developing country somewhere down the line. Additionally, with a deep pocket and interest in the field of solar energy, the military provides an incentive to scientists to continue to develop new and innovative approaches to solar power. This benefits developing nations since that technology will often by donated or replicated for their use at some point in time.



Jesse Seng