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Blog & Podcast

Ep 20: Innovation Best Practices for the Military-Part One

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In this first part of a two part series, I talk with noted technologist and futurist, Mike Courtney, about innovation. We discuss what it takes for individuals or organizations to succeed at innovating, things that stand in the way of best practices, and lessons that can be learned from past innovation failures and successes.

Because our audience is focused on military innovation and high technology, our discussion ranges widely: from the Maginot Line and Noorden bombsight, to the iPhone and ethical concerns about some classes of innovation.

As someone who guides organizations in the process of imagining and innovating their future, Mike offers concrete advice to both commercial companies and the military on how to innovate successfully as well as suggestions on pitfalls to avoid.

Email: mike@apirioninsights.com

Ep 19: AgTech and Battlefield Situational Awareness

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The Pentagon’s drive to engage the commercial sector in developing dual use technology involves more than a search for technical innovation; it requires finding those firms whose commercial business case overlaps with the Pentagon’s military use case.

This is important because sustaining a dual use solution requires that the commercial firm generate revenue and profit from the private sector and not just the government.

In this podcast, I discuss the application of agricultural technology (agtech), advanced, intelligent ground sensors, and commercial LEO satellite networks as being a potential solution for the Pentagon’s need for low cost, efficient, and accurate situational awareness in remote places around the globe.

My guest, Mr. Peter DeNagy, is a co-founder of IoT America, an agtech startup, and a subject matter expert on terrestrial and space-based communications.

Email: pdenagy@acommence.com

Ep 18: Securing 5G Networks-Necessary and Challenging

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How do we secure 5G networks?

Defense Department officials announced in October 2020 the award of $600 million in contracts to 15 prime contractors to perform testing and evaluation of 5G technologies at five military installations across the United States.

Michael Kratsios, the acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering stated that “5G networks - and the technologies that will be built upon them — are an integral component of the National Defense Strategy. Kratsios went on to say that “we at DoD are committed to the advancement of this critical emerging technology to improve the lethality and modernization of our force.”

While 5G does promise great advances that can be of use to the US military, our guest today, Pete DeNagy, discusses some of the risks associated with this new communications standard. A particular focus are the risks outlined in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report titled, “CISA 5G Strategy.”

Email:
mark@commercebasix.com and pdenagy@acommence.com

Original music by Josh Goode Music: joshgoode1@mac.com

Ep 17: LyteLoop-A Cloud Above the Clouds - Data Storage in Space

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The mission of the United States Air Force is to
fly, fight and win...in air, space and cyberspace.

But doing that requires a new level of coordination and integration of both manned and unmanned systems. And a way to connect “sensors to shooters.”

In today’s episode, we talk with Ohad Harlev, co-founder and CEO of LyteLoop, a firm based in New York, and a recent participant in the Air Force Space Command’s Catalyst Accelerator. Ohad and his team have been working for four years to create the first space-based data center using a set of patentable techniques to store information on lasers connected to a constellation of low earth orbit satellites.

LyteLoop’s innovation, a space-based data center or a “cloud above the clouds,” could be a key part of helping Dr. William Roper’s vision of accessing data anywhere become a reality.

Email addresses:

Mark Goode: mark@commercebasix.com
Ohad Harlev:
ohad.harlev@lyteloop.com

Original music composed by Josh Goode Music: joshgoode1@icloud.com

Ep 16: AFWERX-A Start-Up Story (featuring Joey Aurora)

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The mission of the United States Air Force is to
fly, fight and win...in air, space and cyberspace.

Achieving that mission means, among other things, that the pace of innovation must accelerate and do so quickly.

Three yeas ago, the Air Force stood up AFWERX, a new program designed to integrate several innovation initiatives already underway. One of the co-founders of that first team, Joey Arora, is my guest today.

Joey Arora explains his journey into the Air Force and then the creation of AFWERX. Joey articulates why AFWERX’s mission is so critical and why Air Force leadership and airmen are working hard to make this program a success.

Email:
mark@commercebasix.com and joseph.arora@gmail.com

AFWERX: https://www.afwerx.af.mil

Original music by Josh Goode Music: joshgoode1@mac.com

Ep 15: 5G is a Three Band Network

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For at least two years, wireless carriers have been promoting the next generation of wireless service known as 5G. This fifth generation of technology, we are told, holds great promise.

But unlike earlier instantiations of wireless standards, such as 3G or 4G, 5G is more complex and nuanced. Understanding these details is important to grasp the existing and new use cases for this latest communications standard.

Hi, I’m Mark Goode, host of “Commercial Innovation for Defense,” a podcast dedicated to discussing some of the challenges faced by the US military and potential commercial solutions to address those challenges.

My guest on this episode is Pete DeNagy, a pioneer in wireless communications technology and a 5G and WiFi subject matter expert. In this first of five episodes, Pete explains one of the fundamental distinctions of 5G, a distinction that if not understood, can lead to a great deal of confusion.

Unlike previous wireless standards, 5G services are offered in three distinct bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. And the unique characteristics of each band directly impacts the kind of services that an operator can offer and the use cases that can be addressed.

Pete can be reached at pdenagy@acommence.com

The podcast show music was composed, arranged, and performed by joshgoode1@mac.com (joshgoode.com)

Ep 14: Self Sovereign Identification or "How Do I Know You are You?"

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The explosion in use of IoT devices in commercial markets, assisted in no small part by the advent of 5G, is finding its way into the defense sector with the rapidly increasing use of sensors to create situational awareness for US forces.

However, an enduring problem for all electronic communications is this: how do I authenticate the identity of the person or device with which I am communicating?

As my guest, Michael Lewellen, explains in this episode, when electronic communications via the Internet was developed, almost no thought was given to the serious problem of user and device authentication. Several authentication techniques have developed over time but most of them have serious limitations.

This matters to everyone, but particularly for the military, because if an adversary is able spoof a sensor field or masquerade as a command authority, it can wreak havoc without needing to fire a single round of munitions.

In this episode we discuss both this problem and a solution known as self sovereign identity.

Email:
mark@commercebasix.com and michael@tarski.tech

The Texas Blockchain Council: https://texasblockchaincouncil.org

Original music by Josh Goode Music: joshgoode1@mac.com

Ep 13: Using Blockchain to Ensure Battle Network Integrity-Part 2 of 2

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In our previous episode, the first part of my conversation with Michael Lewellen, we discussed the basics of blockchain and how it could be used to improve the integrity of battlefield networks.

In this episode, I put Michael to the test. As he entered the studio for this recording, I handed him a 1.5 page story that was published a few months ago. It announced a second phase AFWERX SBIR award to a startup based in North Carolina named Fluree. Based solely on the limited information in the news article, I asked Michael to speculate on what AFWERX (and the Air Force) might be funding Fluree to develop. Michael had never heard of Fluree nor did he do any research during the show prior to this segment.

I did this for two reasons. First, I was interested in what he might posit as within the realm of the possible given his subject matter expertise in blockchain. Second, I wanted to demonstrate - without any coaching or preparation - what can happen if a commercial developer is presented a
military use case in terms they can understand. America has many bright and capable commercial innovators. But if the needs of the military aren’t explained in ways that are understandable to the commercial sector, few commercial firms will respond to the invitations to innovate for the military.

Email:
mark@commercebasix.com and michael@tarski.tech

Original music by Josh Goode Music: joshgoode1@mac.com

Ep 12: Using Blockchain to Ensure Battle Network Integrity-Part 1 of 2

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This is the first episode taken from my conversation with Michael Lewellen, a subject matter expert on blockchain technology. Michael is the president of Tarski Technologies, and a guest lecturer at the University of Texas at Dallas.

The key driver of the Pentagon’s many efforts to harness commercial innovation for its military systems is the growing threat from China. Christian Brose, a former senior staff member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, writes in his book “The Kill Chain,” that “China has devised strategies not to beat America at its own game but to play a different game—to win by denying the US military the opportunity to project power, fight in its traditional ways, and achieve its goals. China has rapidly developed arsenals of advanced weapons intended to break apart US battle networks, destroy the US military’s traditional platforms, and shatter its ability to close the kill chain. ”

A battle network can be broken apart in many ways. But one of the more effective and nefarious methods is to exploit weaknesses relating to the identity of the participants in the network so that a bad actor can masquerade as a good actor. One technique for attenuating this class of attack is to integrate blockchain technology within the battle network.

In this first episode of a two episode series, Michael and I discuss what blockchain is, some of its commercial use cases, and its potential value for ensuring the integrity of battlefield communications.

In the second episode, we speculate on how the Air Force may be planning on using blockchain technology, based on the recent announcement of a SBIR contract in June of 2020.

Participant emails: mark@commercebasix.com and michael@tarski.tech

Original music by Josh Goode Music. Email: joshgoode1@mac.com

Ep 11: How Does DoD Value Commercial Innovation?

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This is the second episode taken from my conversation with Eric Lofgren.

In our first episode, Eric and I discussed the challenge of how DoD counts costs, a system that is based on an industrial view of the defense industry and one that dates back to the second world war. His conclusion
and a view that I share is that DoD’s cost accounting system is outdated and does a poor job of providing guidance to the department’s decision makers as well as members of Congress.

Yet, as the department accelerates its efforts to woo commercial innovators to bring their best ideas to the military, that begs this important question:
how will the department value these innovations? Will it be based on a “works for hire,” “time and materials” accounting method as used by the defense prime contractors? If so, many commercial firms won’t engage with DoD. For them, value is determined by a broader market and is imputed based on a variety of factors, many of which are unrelated to the underlying cost of goods sold - or services rendered.

You can listen to the full episode here on our show, Commercial Innovation for Defense, on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

Email:
mark@commercebasix.com and Lofgren.e.m@gmail.com
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