Today I had the pleasure of sitting down for a second time with Dr. Greg Newby, director of one of America’s top supercomputing centers, this one in Alaska and operated by the University of Alaska. He has some ideas about Arctic information collection, prcoessing, analysis, and SHARING that are breath-taking; I attribute this in part to his also being the current lead for the Gutenberg Project, whose founder died recently. If there is one person on the planet that understands supercomputing, open everything, and the potential of the cloud to radcially empower all members of any M4IS2 endeavor, that person is Dr. Greg Newby. He is in Washington until Friday morning when I drive him to the airport, and can be reached via email at <[email protected]>. Tomorrow he meets with the US State Department representative to the Arctic Council. At this time he has no meetings scheduled with US Navy or US Coast Guard points of contact for Arctic matters and would welcome being contacted directly.
I confess to being delighted by how he has adapted my eight-tribes concept and also with his diligence in pursuing a global initiative to make all data available via a MOSAIC real-world “game” to be created by Medard Gabel, co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, and architect of both the existing UN Earth Dashboard, and the conceptualized digital EarthGame that needs only a staff of six and an annual budget of $3 million to be created.
Here is Medard’s original staff and cost estimate for creating the EarthGame — the Arctic real-world real-time “game” and dashboard is a perfect opportunity to both master all relevant data about the next frontier; and to place proper emphasis on what some believe is the “canary in the coal mine.” If we lose the Arctic we lose it all.
Here is one of the first tables of data sets that has been put together, and here to the side, an illustration of where the data sets are physically located. Note the centrality of the University of Alaska, not only for the USA, but in relation to all members of the Arctic Council.
We have noted with interest the recent report by Intelligence Online out of Paris with respect to the National Geospatial Agency placing an open-ended order for Arctic imagery necessary to create Arctic charts. We strongly suspect that Russia is years ahead of the USA with respect to Arctic Mapping, Charting, & Geodesy (MC&G, something the USMC added to the Foreign Intelligence Priorities and Capabilities Plan (FIRCAP) in 1992 at my suggestion), just as they are still the primary source for reliable hard-copy up-to-date charts for Third World ports.
The project is called the Multinational Open Source Arctic Innovation Consortium (MOSAIC), and is being briefed to selected US Arctic Council points of contact this week, and to the Canadian Arctic Council points of contact next week or next month, I forget. Since Canada is next up as Chair of the Arctic Council, and the US follows them as Chair, this provides a perfect opportunity for establishing essential elements of information (EEI) for Arctic multidisciplinary and multidomain information collection, creating a global virtual cloud for sharing raw information in all forms, and establishing a treaty for distributed analytics and decision-support. I have introduced Dr. Newby to my most relevant Canadian contacts, one of whom is the former Deputy N-2 of NATO, and the other a former Executive Director for Intelligence of the Privy Council for Canada.
I have shared my hourglass strategy with the team, and hold the view that American strategy has been mis-directed these past few decades. The “pivot” to Asia is not evidence-based and is poorly conceived — the present Undersecretary of Defense for Policy has inherited some very poorly developed, unaffordable, and generally unreasonable propositions–the result of creeping “strategic decrepitude,” a term of art. Apart from the homeland, the Arctic to the north and the Americas to the south should be the twin focal points for US national security policy and US national competitiveness policy, in the next quarter century.
In the ideal, the US representative to the Arctic Council would have a US Government (USG) Arctic Information Council that would establish information gaps and priorities for submission to the US Intelligence Community via the various liaison channels, determine which information requirements will not by met by the secret intelligence world (most of them), and then turn the unmet requirements over to MOSAIC. MOSAIC is envisioned as the first M4IS2 endeavor – a pilot project that could be replicated for the Americas, then other regions. As best I know, there is no Arctic Branch in either CIA or DIA. It may be that USNORTHCOM and the University of Colorado, in collaboration with the Universities of Ottawa in Canada and Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska, could comprise a virtual almost completely unclassified Arctic information-sharing and sense-making hub that can engage the Russian and Nordic and other data centers on the other side of the North Pole.
There are clearly force structure implications that demand urgent attention. Ice breakers, aids to navigation, law enforcement surveillance and rapid response teams, the range of capabilities needed for “close in” Arctic operations is dense — and a perfect counterpoint to the range of capabilities needed to be effective, both militarily and economically as well as culturally, to the south. A 450 ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, an air-deployable Army, and a new ship, the Expediter (with three variants, one for air, one for fire support, and one as a troop carrier), all appear called for.
At this time, assuming the ice opens along the northern border of Russia, Russia will “own” the Arctic Passage, and will be the primary military and law enforcement presence. It would appear helpful to US interests to get a grip on the information environment sooner than later. These are exciting times. The legacy systems and legacy thinking have failed. The time for new sources, new methods, and new mind-sets is now. St.