Posts Tagged PMC 2.0

DIY: Opensource Military Hardware?

Ok, I have to say it. I watched this video at TED and instantly thought–Opensource Military Hardware wiki (OMH). The same concepts these guys applied to farm equipment and the basic tools of a society, can easily be applied to weapons and military equipment manufacture. And in fact, if you watch what is going on in Libya or even Mexico, it is already happening on the world stage.

Honestly speaking, mankind has been doing this since the time of spears. What makes this unique though, is the concept of open source and collaboration. That some engineer in Sweden combined his knowledge with some student in Ethiopia, to help some Peruvian maker shop put together a cost effective armored vehicle that works. And the whole world can access the same open source material via a wiki.

Of course the down side of this type of wiki would be ‘everyone’ could access it. That makes this a dangerous idea. But on the other hand, OMH is going to happen regardless. The internet already provides plenty of resources for folks to check out and use.

The other idea is that OMH could be a closed wiki, only available between partner nations. That way, one nation could give preferred poorer nations a means to protect themselves from neighbors. The thought here is ‘give a man a fish, you feed them for a day’….’but teach them how to fish, and you feed them for life’. To basically give countries a means to create their own defense industries, as opposed to giving them expensive weapons and hardware and expecting them to be able to maintain this costly equipment.

This is also a PMC 2.0 topic. Companies have built homemade armored vehicles in places like Iraq, and often these designs were based on whatever ideas those contractors in the field had come up with. Imagine if a company had access to an OMH, and could cheaply build the equipment they needed in whatever country they were operating in? You could either make an OHH ‘tank’, or go through the risk of open markets and hostile neighbors to purchase such hardware?

Or if your logistics sucks, and you need an armored vehicle yesterday, OMH could come in extremely handy. Lot’s of angles to go with this concept, and definitely check out the video below. –Matt

Edit: 11/29/2011- Check out this wiki. It is called Open and it is pretty much doing what I was talking about in this post. Making public projects based on open source information and using the feedback of a the crowd. Check it out here.


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Leadership: TED–General Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn… Then Lead

This is a great presentation and very powerful. Also, the TED crowd gave the good General a standing ovation at the end!

The other thing that I noticed was the ideas he talked about, totally mesh well with Jundism. Learn from your people or ‘learning organizations’, and listen to your people or ‘get feedback’. Even the ‘shared reality’ concept was an issue that the General discussed as a difficulty with command in the modern age. Very cool and check it out. –Matt

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Building Snowmobiles: The Cyber Lance

I want to thank Matt from Facebook for bringing up this quote from Starship Troopers. I found the movie clip of the quote and it clearly shows the weakness of cyber warfare. It shows why you must have a direct action/physical security component mixed with your cyber warfare/information operations unit.

The simple reason why is that all it takes for your enemies to ruin your ‘hacking’ ventures, is for them to kill your hacker and physically destroy his equipment. To ‘throw a knife into the hand of the guy that pushes the buttons’, to paraphrase the quote up top.

Or worse, that hacker could be tortured and key information could be extracted in order to conduct a larger attack. The value of what that hacker knows (a nation or company’s secrets), or what they know how to do (hacking a nation or company), makes them a high value target.

In other words, today’s freelance hacker or even government/military hacker, is a highly valuable asset to a nation or a company. That highly valuable asset must be defended, and have a highly evolved physical and cyber offensive capability in order to compete and survive in today’s world.

So in order to deal with this new reality I have developed and defined a new term that I wanted to share with the readership. Enter the ‘cyber lance’.

Basically, a cyber lance is a combined arms team within a privateer company or military unit. Or it could be an outsourced team. The lance part comes from the french term Lances fournies, or ‘lances fournished’. Here is the definition from wikipedia.

The Lances fournies (French: “lances furnished”) was a medieval army squad that would have surrounded a knight in battle, consisting of a four to ten man team built of squires, men-at-arms (usually mounted swordsmen), archers, attendants (pages) and the knight himself. These units formed companies under a captain either as mercenary bands or in the retinue of wealthy nobles and royalty.
A Lance was usually led and raised by a knight in the service of his liege, yet it is not uncommon in certain periods to have a less privileged man, such as a sergeants-at-arms, lead a lance. More powerful knights, also known as a knight bannerets, could field multiple lances.

And of course the cyber is used to refer to anything to do with the internet or computing. I particularly like this etymology of cyber from wikipedia:

By the 1970s, the Control Data Corporation (CDC) sold the “Cyber” range of supercomputers, establishing the word cyber- as synonymous with computing. Robert Trappl credits William Gibson and his novel Neuromancer with triggering a “cyber- prefix flood” in the 1980s.

What’s cool about a cyber lance, is that a company can actually define it’s size to a client. They can say ‘we have 20 cyber lances’ or ‘cyber lancers’ (whatever sounds better to the user)
The other reason why I like the cyber lance concept, is that it mixes physical security with cyber security. It also mixes physical offense, with the cyber offense.  You must have one with the other as the world of cyber warfare continues to evolve. The cyber lance defines that combined arms group of hackers and shooters. The way I envision it, it could be as simple as a protective detail assigned to a hacker, or as involved as a special forces type team that does both the protection of a hacker, and conducts offensive operations based upon the information gained by that hacker. It is a fusion of the cyber and the physical, and all the potential actions that can come out of that combination.
I also like the etymology of lance corporal.  If you have ever served in the Marines, you more than likely were a ‘Lance Corporal”. Although the lance part refers to lancepesade.

From the Italian lanzia spezzata, which literally means “broken lance” or “broken spear”, but which was used to denote a seasoned soldier (the broken spear being a metaphor for combat experience, where such an occurrence was likely).

Or if you have ever heard of the term ‘free-lance photographer’ or ‘free-lancer‘ (etymology- medieval mercenary warrior) , then now you know the origins of the term. I think it works pretty nicely for cyber lance. So to me, cyber lance makes perfect sense in the context of what I am talking about here.
The cyber lance is also flexible in it’s usage. They could be all military units, or a  private cyber lance contracted out to the government or companies. A cyber privateer or cyber pirate company would have several groups of cyber lances as an organizational idea. Each cyber lance is just a unit or term to describe this hardened ‘hacker team with teeth’. It also goes back to the idea of combined arms, or mutually supporting groups within a unit. This concept is very much a part of the building snowmobiles mindset.

Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects (for example, using infantry and armor in an urban environment, where one supports the other, or both support each other). Combined arms doctrine contrasts with segregated arms where each military unit is composed of only one type of soldier or weapon system. Segregated arms is the traditional method of unit/force organisation, employed to provide maximum unit cohesion and concentration of force in a given weapon or unit type.

A cyber lance also promotes the idea of ‘team’, as opposed to an individual.  I believe cells or teams are far more capable for the attack and defense, as opposed to just an individual. The security of a nation or company, or the prosecution of that nation or company’s best interest would best be placed into the hands of a team, as opposed to just one individual.  Primarily because teams would actually have the ‘teeth’ necessary to capture or kill ‘individuals’, or defend against an attacking force. A cyber lance could also be attacked by a cyber lance, or a group of cyber lances that would make up a cyber privateer company.

Another key component of the cyber lance is it’s ability to work within the borders of another country or navigate the complexities of the commons called cyber space. A small team can be surgical and have a light foot print.  It also falls in line with the concepts of netwar, and offense industry which was a past building snowmobiles post.
Finally, as hackers become more valuable and more capable, it will be of national interest to protect these assets. The cyber lance could very well be the next chapter or paragraph in the world of combined arms and cyber warfare. It will also take the combination of the hacker’s mind and the tactical and strategic thinking of a special operations team to think of all the ways a cyber lance could be used for the defense or offense. The end result could lead to the destruction of a nation’s key national security assets, or the preservation of a nation’s vital national security assets. That is what makes a cyber lance a very important and lethal building snowmobiles concept. –Matt

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PMC 2.0: The Army Wants To Give It’s Soldiers Free Smart Phones

    You know what would really be cool is if companies handed out free smart phones when you signed a contract? I would classify it as a piece of kit as important as a rifle or radio that would be issued.  Because as you read through all the reasons why the Army wants to give their soldiers smart phones, then you can see why something like this would be important for companies to think about doing. Especially if they want to share the battle space with the military.

    Also, contractors already deploy with smart phones.  I take an iPhone 3GS with me when I go on contract, and it is indispensable.  Most contractors you work with now a days have these phones as well and take them out on gigs. This is nothing new and I have talked about this in the past.  It’s just now you see the military recognizing the smart phone’s utility and potential, and they are the ones leading the charge of incorporating them into their operations. Good on them.

    Another idea for companies is to develop applications that contractors can download for a contract. For example, DynCorp could have a DynCorp application that could serve as a portal for employees to access their intranet, all from a mobile phone.  DynCorp could send out alerts to their employees and contractors through this application, and people could call or write back to the company with these devices.  For travel arrangements or time sheets, this could also be done on the mobile phone through a really easy to use and understand company application.  For secure communications, they could integrate Hushmail or something similar on their company application and the possibilities are endless.

    The military could benefit from the companies having contractors armed with smart phones as well.  An application could be set up for a specific Area of Operation in a war, and all companies would require that their contractors download that app on their phone.  It could be set up as a secure means for the military and contractors to communicate with each other, and establish unity of effort through the real time exchange of information.  Smart phones could be that thing that could connect private industry with the military in a war zone.

     Apps like this could lead to more enemy killed, less fratricide incidents, and real time information exchanges that could assist in local COIN efforts. Contractors are a HUMINT resource that could really be exploited via smart phones and their applications.

     A contractor AO specific app could also have the rules for the use of force (RUF) that could be constantly updated by the military in that AO, or that RUF could be sent to them by the company via a company app. Unity of effort all the way and as long as the military has a network established out there, companies could be brought into that as well.

    The other thing that would be interesting with a company app or a company issued smart phone, is security.  If you want your employees/contractors using these devices, they have to be secure.  By channeling everyone through an app, a protected remote browser or company issued phone, a company information technology security team or contracted security team could stand a better chance of protecting the system.  Because once you have have established a connection between the contractor and company, there will always be some group or person out there that will want to sabotage it or try to hack into it.

     That last part is very important to remember, and there are numerous folks out there that are making it very easy for anyone to be a hacker.  Easy to use programs like Firesheep, that allow folks to break into other people’s computers or phones via wifi are just one example of what I am talking about. (thanks to DVM for that story)  As the military or companies delve further into integrating smart phones into their organizations, their phone and computer security personnel will be vital to the safeguarding of their operations. But the benefits still outweigh the negatives with this technology, and this is where the military (and private industry) is going. –Matt

Army sees smart phones playing important role

The service also views smart phone as a ‘force multiplier’ — and it wants to give you a free one

By Joe Gould and Michael Hoffman

Sunday Dec 12, 2010

The Army wants to issue every soldier an iPhone or Android cell phone — it could be a soldier’s choice.

And to top it off, the Army wants to pay your monthly phone bill.

To most soldiers, it sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s real, said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. He said the Army would issue these smart phones just like any other piece of equipment a soldier receives.

“One of the options potentially is to make it a piece of equipment in a soldier’s clothing bag,” Vane said.

With the backing of officials such as Vane, efforts are underway around the Army to harness smart phones to revolutionize the way the service trains and fights.

Army-issued smart phones are already in the schoolhouse and garrison, in the hands of some students at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Lee, Va.; and at Fort Sill, Okla., under an Army program called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications. CSDA’s next step, already underway at Fort Bliss, Texas, is testing for the war zone.

In February, the Army plans to begin fielding phones, network equipment and applications to the first Army brigade to be modernized under the brigade combat team modernization program. That test will not be limited to smart phones but will include any electronic devices that may be useful to troops.

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Publications: Innovation In War–COIN Operations In Anbar And Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005-2007

 The standing operating procedure (SOP) for the unit typically focused on: (1) Planning and establishing the COP; (2) Ensuring route security so each outpost could be kept resupplied; (3) Clearing operations after the COP had been stood up to clear IEDs and find weapons caches; and (4) Census patrols to follow after the clearing operations to consolidate the position and gradually work its way into the human terrain of the area – the real target of MacFarland’s campaign. 


     This is an excellent paper that discusses some of the key innovations of the war.  The main theme that I am getting from all of this, is intelligence, intelligence, and intelligence.(jundism hint)

     If you notice in the publication, there are some themes that keep getting repeated.  The importance of networks or fusion is one of them.  To bring together different groups of experts, and have them contribute to actionable intelligence. And feeding these fusion groups requires interaction with the terrain, population and the enemy.

    Hence why COPS or combat outposts are so important.  It allows a unit to insert itself into the heart of a population/insurgency center and get as much information as they can via census patrols, sensors, raids, attacks against and by the enemy, etc. All of this is fed into a searchable database that can be cross referenced and searched by other units and organizations, and future deploying units and organizations. In other words, all actions and collected information is fed into the machine.

    I also liked the reference to ‘continuous improvement’. Too bad the author didn’t use the term Kaizen in the paper though. I also saw hints of ‘learning organization’, which is also an incredibly important concept for developing winning TTPs and strategies. Because once you have all of this great information and experience, you have to build a snowmobile out of it so you can win the fight. A rigid organization that doesn’t seek feedback internally and externally, work together and with others, or doesn’t innovate, will not succeed.

    Now here are my ideas to further the concepts into our industry.  Right now we are witnessing the African Union stumbling along in Somalia and trying to gain a foothold.  My thoughts on the whole thing is that you could take a PMC that was composed of former military leaders familiar with these concepts, and help the AU to organize accordingly. Or AFRICOM could send a leadership team in there to help organize the effort.  Either way, I see no reason why the AU forces could not replicate this strategy in Mogadishu right now.

    I also think that PMC’s could learn a lot from these types of strategies. PMC’s have had to set up remote sites that are very similar to ‘COPS in a box’. The CMC projects are a prime example. But what was missing with those operations was deliberate census patrols or the other means of intelligence collection that the Marines and Army could use.

    The way human intelligence was collected for these projects was often through the process of hiring and working around locals for guard positions and general labor projects. You learn all sorts of things about the locals when you work around them all day, day in and day out.

    Imagine though that if PMC’s actually did census patrols as part of the contract? Or planted sensors in abandoned buildings in their area? That data could not only be useful to that PMC, or future replacement PMC’s, but could also be added to a much larger database that the military could use? A PMC remote site and the routes they travel daily could be an excellent source of intelligence for the military units of that area, but unless that PMC is brought into that fusion process, it will simply be another lost chance at crucial data collection.

     It would also be nice if PMC’s could take advantage of that fusion process as well, and access the COPLINK or whatever database that is established locally. It could save lives and win wars, but it also requires both the military and civilian equivalents to talk and work with each other. Stuff to think about as we continue the fight and learn new ways of doing our thing in this war. –Matt


Innovation in War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005-2007

James A. Russella

August 2010

To cite this Article: Russell, James A. ‘Innovation in War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewa Provinces, Iraq, 2005–2007’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 33:4, 595 – 624


This article analyzes operations by three battalions conducting counterinsurgency, or COIN, operations in Iraq over the period from July 2005 through March 2007: the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (1-7) along the Iraq-Syrian border in the first half of 2006; the 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment (1-37) battalion operating in south-central Ramadi in the fall of 2006; and the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, or 2-1, operating in eastern Mosul in 2005-06. The empirical evidence presented in these cases suggest that, contrary to popular perceptions, the units successfully innovated in war – a process largely executed organically within the units themselves. Innovation is defined here as the development of new organizational capacities not initially present when the units deployed into the theater. The evidence presented in these cases suggests that the innovation process enabled these units to successfully transition from organizations structured and trained for conventional military operations to organizations that developed an array of new organizational capacities for full-spectrum combat operations. The units in this study developed these new capacitites largely on their own initiative.

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PMC 2.0: Innovation Prizes For Private Military Companies

“I’m worth a million in prizes..” Iggy Pop


     Wow, I really liked this article at the Economist and I wanted to share.  It kind of shows how desperate private industry and governments are for really good ideas.  And as everyone here knows, I am all about new ideas or ‘building snowmobiles’ and I try to promote that process as much as I can.

    But imagine adding incentive to the ‘building snowmobiles’ theme?  That is what makes innovation prizes such an interesting and potentially lethal concept for our industry and the war effort. Perhaps I should consider raising prize money for the best construction of a Letter of Marque concept for modern warfare use?  How about an innovation prize for low cost, high return warfare ideas?  Really open it up to the public, or just offer the contests within the boundaries of an organization. How about an innovation prize for new types of war or business strategies? Or how about for a company logo? To really put it out there, how about using mobile cash as a means to reward locals as a means of gaining ideas for COIN and reconstruction in Afghanistan?

    Companies could also offer innovation prizes to those who can come up with the best cost saving ideas, or to new directions in business?  There are many complex problems a company could try to solve by putting it out there for their employees to solve through a prize system.  It is just one more way to create that unique situation that would allow for your employees to create something important to the company or ‘people will support what they help to create’.

    Now the one thing that is most valuable and truly the prize, is business success or victory in war. A company would be smart to not only offer prizes for innovations, but to reward their company as a whole by increasing salaries because they are more profitable. Or offer the benefit in one way or another, which would reward your employees for participating in this innovation prize concept in the first place.

    The articles below indicate that this is a major theme throughout the world, and it sounds like most of the experts agree that it works.  For companies reading this, InnoCentive is the company that the Economist identified as a platform for innovation prizes.  Or you could just start your our prize initiatives. If the US government is jumping all over this stuff with their site, then our industry could probably stand to benefit from it as well. I would even post it here on the blog if it was open to the industry and public?

    As for the problem solvers out there, there are plenty of prizes to go after if you have some big ideas.  Thousands of dollars are available and it sounds like these prizes are only increasing in size and number.  Just check out the chart below. –Matt

And the winner is… looking for great ideas

For Corporations (from InnoCentive website)


And the winner is…

Offering a cash prize to encourage innovation is all the rage. Sometimes it works rather well

Aug 5th 2010

A CURIOUS cabal gathered recently in a converted warehouse in San Francisco for a private conference. Among them were some of the world’s leading experts in fields ranging from astrophysics and nanotechnology to health and energy. Also attending were entrepreneurs and captains of industry, including Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, and Ratan Tata, the head of India’s Tata Group. They were brought together to dream up more challenges for the X Prize Foundation, a charitable group which rewards innovation with cash. On July 29th a new challenge was announced: a $1.4m prize for anyone who can come up with a faster way to clean oil spills from the ocean.

The foundation began with the Ansari X Prize: $10m to the first private-sector group able to fly a reusable spacecraft 100km (62 miles) into space twice within two weeks. It was won in 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan, a pioneering aerospace engineer, and Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft. Other prizes have followed, including the $10m Progressive Automotive X Prize, for green cars that are capable of achieving at least 100mpg, or its equivalent. Peter Diamandis, the entrepreneur who runs the foundation, says he has become convinced that “focused and talented teams in pursuit of a prize and acclaim can change the world.”

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