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Blog & Podcast

Ep 27: China's Digital Currency - A Conversation with Yaya Fanusie

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The Chinese are leading the effort to implement a digital currency. Starting first within China and then expanding to other nation’s around the globe, the People’s Bank of China, or PBOC, is developing a form of digital currency that enables controlled anonymity - privacy between parties involved in a transaction but full visibility of the transaction details by the Chinese state, in real time, of any and all transactions employing this digital currency system.

My guest for today’s podcast is Mr. Yaya Fanusie, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). His research focuses on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Mr. Fanusie explains how this new digital currency system operates, the risks and benefits of this system to both the Chinese state and the commercial participants, and some issues that the US and its western allies need to bear in mind as this system begins to expand around the globe.

You can download a copy of Mr. Fanusie's paper here:

Ep 26: Accelerating Defense Innovation (KesselRun Discussion)

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Approximately five years ago, the Department of Defense began a new effort to collaborate with non-traditional defense suppliers as a means of accelerating its pace of innovation. The clear and present danger that is driving this strategy is the unprecedented rise of China’s economy and it’s growing military strength.

In today’s episode, my guest, Col. Sean O’Brien, a professor and department head at the National Defense University, explains some of the ways DoD is modifying its acquisition and development efforts in order to accelerate systems development as well as leverage the innovation of non-traditional commercial suppliers that normally do not do business with DoD. In particular, Col. O’Brien discusses the origins and success of the Air Force’s KesselRun project.

Ep 25: Digital Currency, Blockchain, and China

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In 2013 China announced the Belt Road Initiative, a $1 trillion project to link together countries and economies to form a Chinese-centric economic ecosystem. These linkages include telecommunications systems, physical roads and bridges, and a financial system built around a digital currency that also employs elements of blockchain. To date, over 60 countries accounting for two-thirds of the world’s population have signed on to this project.

In this podcast, we have two subject matter experts discuss what these financial developments mean and could portend for the US. Our first contributor, Mr. Yaya Fanusie, is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). His research focuses on the national security implications of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Our second guest, Dr. Victoria Adams, is the Chief Innovation Officer at the Value Technology Foundation, and founder of ConsenSys, the largest pure play Ethereum blockchain firm in the world.

Ep 24: MITRE Government Contracting Expert Brings Clarity to DoD Contracts

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As the US military ramps up its efforts to collaborate with commercial, non-traditional suppliers of innovative products and services, these commercial firms are often puzzled and put off by the complexity and the bureaucratic maze involved in securing a government contract.

In today’s episode, I interview Lorna Tedder, an agile acquisition expert for MITRE, and a former contracting officer for the US Air Force. Lorna is a change agent who throughout her distinguished career has worked to remove barriers to efficient contracting, enabling her government clients to get the best solutions as quickly as possible.

But Lorna also sees very clearly the obstacles and challenges that remain . . . and those that introduce unnecessary friction to today’s effort to collaborate with commercial suppliers.

With refreshing honesty and clarity, Lorna decodes some of the most important contract issues that any small business should understand when considering working for the US government. She explains in plain English what key terms and conditions mean and offers practical guidance on how firms should proceed when working with a government contracting officer.

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Ep 23: Harness Commercial Autonomous Navigation for Military Uses

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The DoD and the Trusted Capital Marketplace have identified autonomous systems as one of the 27 areas in which commercial technology could be leveraged for military applications.

In my discussion with Pete DeNagy, a subject matter expert on both autonomous systems and 5G, we tackle this challenge head on. After I define the somewhat unique characteristics of the military use case for autonomous systems (and the unique complexities), Pete explains how the commercial world is implementing autonomous vehicles . . . and be prepared; it’s likely different than you think . . . at least it was to me.

Rather than develop navigation systems that can inherently mimic the cognitive and control capabilities of a human driver, automotive manufacturers (and government agencies) are implementing communications-centric autonomous navigation systems, which leverage 5G, low latency, high bandwidth, and other properties as substitutes for the compute intensive (and algorithmically complex) alternative of mimicking human drivers.

Will this work in the battlefield? That’s where Pete illustrates how it can . . . what the key drivers are, what the central innovations that are required, and the rather short timeline that is needed to achieve this.

Ep 22: Understanding China's Threat to the United States

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In 1989 the free world rejoiced as the Berlin Wall was torn down. Cheers went up again as the United States’ cold war adversary, the Soviet Union, collapsed in 1992. Some historians speculated that we had come to the end of history, that democracy and freedom, as articulated by America’s founders, would expand around the globe.

But it was not to be.

Starting with Deng Tse Peng’s pivot to state capitalism in 1979, the rush to outsource manufacturing to China in the 1990s, and China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, the world has watched in amazement as China has risen economically to the point of eclipsing the United States as the world’s largest economy.

But this extraordinary economic achievement has not been accompanied by a hoped for pivot to greater freedom for the Chinese people or China’s trading partners. On the contrary, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has cemented its authoritarian control over the Chinese people, implemented frightening Orwellian high tech surveillance, and is expanding its authoritarian values and oppression through its trillion dollar Belt Road Initiative, which now reaches over 70 countries, includes two-thirds of the world’s population, and one third of its economic output.

My guest today is Col. Sean O’Brien, a professor and department head at the National Defense University and a career intelligence officer with the US Air Force. Col. O’Brien offers his personal assessment of the threats China’s poses the United States and its allies as well as his views of opportunities companies have to push back against this totalitarian threat.

Ep 21: Innovation Best Practices for the Military-Part Two

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Innovation is the heartbeat of advancement in many areas of life, including commercial technology for defense. In this second episode of our discussion with Mike Courtney, a technologist and futurist, we discuss how innovation begins . . . and how it proceeds. Mike talks about “great leaps” as well as “incremental steps.” He explains why one approach may be more appropriate than the other.

To provide a context for this dynamic, we use the evolution of aerial bombardment to illustrate both incremental innovation and great leaps of innovation that have undergirded the changes in this method of war fighting.

We discuss what kind of perspective is needed to be an innovator and our examples include Leonardo DaVinci and Isaac Newton, two men whose backgrounds and range of expertise may surprise you.

Emails: and

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.


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.


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.”

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Original music by Josh Goode Music:
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