The U.S. economy seems stuck in neutral for the near term as the numbers of new COVID-19 cases reach new highs in nearly all states, although President-elect Joe Biden’s proposals could bring relief on several fronts, according to a recent post-election press briefing held by the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) on November 12. The PWBM is a nonpartisan research organization that provides economic analysis of the fiscal impact of public policy.
The implications of the unrelenting pandemic were at the top of the agenda during the briefing. “R,” or the effective reproduction number to measure secondary infections, is currently racing as if one’s foot were “on the gas pedal,” noted John Ricco, senior analyst at PWBM.
“When your R is bigger than 1, you get explosive growth,” Ricco said. “Our analysis shows that the number of states where R is greater than 1 — in that danger zone — is almost near 50 right now. It’s a pretty dire situation.”
The opening episode of Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos, first shown in 1980, lamented the most famous burning of books in history—the conflagration that destroyed the Library of Alexandria. “If I could travel back into time,” Sagan told his viewers, it would be to the Library of Alexandria, because “all the knowledge in the ancient world was within those marble walls.” The destruction of the library was, he said, a warning to us 1,600 years later: “we must never let it happen again.”
Sagan stood in a line of writers who, for the last two or three hundred years, have made the word Alexandria conjure up not a place—a city in Egypt—but an image of a burning library. The term Alexandria has become shorthand for the triumph of ignorance over the very essence of civilization.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the federal agency that had reassured Americans about the security of the 2020 election, contradicting his claims that his loss was the result of widespread voter fraud.
“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud,” he tweeted on Tuesday evening, listing several baseless claims including that voting machines had changed votes to Biden and that scores of dead people had voted. “Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
Luther Thompson never thought he’d be a gun owner. But in April, the 41-year-old obtained a concealed carry license and bought his first firearm—a $400 Smith & Wesson pistol—after feeling, for the first time, that he was not safe raising a family in the South as a Black man.
“Down here, it’s totally different,” he says. “They’re bold with their racism.”
The U.S. military is striving to develop concepts supporting broad-spectrum joint operations for future conflicts, yet hurdles remain. Military operations today are much more complex than ever before. Technology is driving change, and threats are evolving rapidly. U.S. forces could find themselves in an increasingly reactive role rather than one that drives the agenda for future operations.
Emerging threats from China, and to somewhat a lesser extent, Russia, are the primary focus of the current military thinking. Our forces must be able to compete and defeat a peer adversary that is rapidly developing capabilities that could neutralize or surpass many of the legacy capabilities that characterize the U.S. and allied military today. Further, the command and control of these forces should be examined.
The joint force of the future will be shaped around timely, accurate information, speed of action, mobility, lethality, precision, resilience and simplicity of use.
The current national conversation about race and diversity is an inflection point that provides opportunity to talk critically about the IC’s successes and challenges in progressing towards its workforce ideals. Hear from panelists at the Intelligence & National Security Summit 2020.
Radio-driven electro-optic sensors, exotic molecular materials and bugs that repair runways are just some of the technologies the Air Force is looking at to help it retain air supremacy in the future. Partnerships with industry and academia are central to this research, but the service is directing efforts to meet goals established in the most recent National Defense Strategy.
In addition to pursuing blue-sky breakthroughs, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is exploring new ways of developing technologies. These would accelerate the pace of research in the same manner that acquisition reform would speed up deployment. Both technology enablers and industry partnerships would play a role in this effort.
The new concept of employing computerized modeling and virtualization to the acquisition cycle may provide advanced aircraft more quickly to the U.S. Air Force, said Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, USAF, commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); Air Component commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The concept can also be applied to communications, sensors and network systems.
The new PACAF commander spoke at a recent Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual event.
“Being able to digitally map our new acquisitions and being able to reduce the amount of time that we test, and then maybe we don’t need as big of an acquisition buy,” the commander ventured. “In lieu of buying thousands and thousands of airframes and taking 20 or plus years to buy all those, we buy smaller lots and we fly them for a while. And then we can design and acquire a new system and field that aircraft. That will be a much greater way to continually improve our capabilities overtime.”
The U.S. military is rapidly pursuing Joint All-Domain Command and Control, known as JADC2, as a way to confront near-peer adversaries China, Russia and other nations. The effort requires innovative computing, software and advanced data processing; emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and 5G communications; along with integration of the military’s existing legacy systems. Leaders have learned that to fully implement JADC2, they have to shed some of the military’s old practices.
They are lessening the propensity to accept proprietary solutions from industry and are holding the line on any requested interoperability or cyber extensions for legacy systems, says Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, USAF, former director, Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4)/Cyber; chief information officer, Joint Staff, J-6. Gen. Shwedo will retire from the military on December 1. Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, took over the J-6 role on October 5.
Despite attempts from adversaries such as China, Iran and Russia to compromise voting on America’s Election Day, the election system worked well, even with the record levels of voting, reported senior officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The cybersecurity concerns now move to protecting the final vote counting, canvasing, auditing, certification and inauguration phases.
“Our top priority at DHS and CISA is to ensure that American voters decide American elections,” said DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf yesterday morning. “We believe it is absolutely critical that our democratic process is free of foreign undue influence here at home or from abroad.”
The United States faced “a multitude of foreign interference threats” against election infrastructure in particular from China, Iran and Russia, Wolf indicated.