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SXSW Moments: Military Matters

The Forrest Four-Cast: May 25, 2019

As the nation celebrates Memorial Day on May 27, take a moment to remember that it’s more than just a three-day weekend. Veterans, including Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, made their presence known at SXSW 2019, and the conference explored a wide range of issues concerning their community and the impact it has on the world.

Forging the Future Army
Lieutenant General Eric Wesley, Deputy Commanding General of Army Futures Command and Director of the Army’s Futures and Concepts Center, discusses the Army’s modernization strategy and how Army Futures command will integrate daily with entrepreneurs, scientists and businesses to employ an entrepreneurial spirit of accepting the risk of failure early and cheaply in order to create the best solution for our soldiers. Army Futures command is being built to assess the future operational environment, emerging threats and new technologies in order to develop and deliver concepts, requirements, future force designs and modern materiel solutions to meet our soldiers’ wartime needs.

LTG Wesley has served around the world with stints in Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Defending the Nation: Immigrants in the Military
Immigrants have always come to the USA in pursuit of the American Dream. Some immigrants are so passionate about America that they enlist in the military and risk their lives to protect it. At the height of the Global War on Terrorism, over 65,000 immigrants served in the military.

Despite their service, changes to immigration policies have made it more difficult for immigrant service members and their families. In 2018, many soldiers were discharged from the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program without justification. At the same time, the rejection rate doubled for family members of immigrants to receive protection under Parole in Place.

Speakers include attorney Zaira Solano, Panshu Shau and Andy Lalinde. Solano helps immigrants build a better future through her Solano Law Firm that focuses on immigration law to serve the Latino community. The daughter of two immigrants and a proud Army wife, Solano is a board member for the Military Assistance Program of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and volunteers to train military JAG lawyers on immigration issues.

Texas A&M student Shau came to America from China. While pursuing his doctorate degree, he volunteered for the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program and enlisted in the Army. In 2018, he was one of at least 40 soldiers discharged without justification.

Lalinde moved to the United States from Colombia as a child. While his citizenship case was pending, he enlisted in the Army in 1996. Lalinde, now a U.S. citizen, went on to graduate from West Point and served as an officer in the United States Army. After his military service, he served as a contractor in Afghanistan and graduated from Columbia University as a Leman Fellow in International Security Policy.

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It’s All By Design: #MeToo and Military
Joy Craig is a 23-year Marine veteran, retired U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer, mother, writer, and fierce advocate fighting against sexual assault in the military and for veterans ‘ safe-access to cannabis nationwide. She currently serves as the Community Outreach Officer for VetsLeaf; a veteran owned and operated cannabis manufacturer in Coachella Valley.

She speaks here with Liesel Kershul, a Marine pilot’s spouse, and together they challenge the typical servicewomen-female military spouses relationship. Their friendship blossomed as the #MeToo movement kicked off in 2017. Through letters to each other, they’ve explored how women can change the military community to support each other and to promote unit cohesion, an ideal used as an argument against allowing women to serve.

Flying IED’s: The Ground War has Moved Up
Drones have turned the concept of security on its head. In the battlefield, the U.S. no longer owns the air space below 2,000 feet. Weaponized commercial drones are a regular feature in conflicts. Our safety and privacy are threatened in our businesses and places we gather for sports and fun, too. Yet, solving this issue brings regulatory and technical challenges. This panel will explore ways to mitigate emerging drone threats.

One speaker is Maureen (Mo) Swanson, a Seattle-based public policy manager and project manager with two Masters degrees and six years of active-duty military experience as an Air Force officer.

Another is Daniel Magy, currently CEO of Mishi AI Labs. Magy founded Citadel Defense, a U.S.-based counter-drone technology company specializing in the development and deployment of drone mitigation solutions for military, homeland security and commercial applications.

The panel also features Brian Losey, who served in the U.S. Navy for 33 years, commanding the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE.

Who Will Lead the Race for AI in Defense?
“Who rules AI will rule the world.” So said Vladimir Putin in a 2017 speech to Russian students. He’s not the only one who believes this; nations around the world, from China to the U.A.E. to the U.S., are racing to be the leader in artificial intelligence research and technology, for both civilian and military applications. The edge AI provides in war and peace has the potential to decide the shape of the international stage in the coming future. Where does this AI “space race” currently stand? How will it change the future of warfare? And how will it change the future of the globe?

One speaker is Chris Shank, Director of the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), whose mission is to develop new and innovative ways to shape and counter emerging threats across all domains, bringing unexpected and game-changing capabilities to the Joint Force. He brings many years of military, government, and commercial industry experience to SCO, including serving as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, assisting in the stand-up of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering as well as the White House National Space Council. Shank served in the Air Force from 1991 to 2001, working at the Pentagon, National Reconnaissance Office and Air Force Space Command on GPS and other advanced systems and technology efforts.

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Answering the Call: Tech for Public Purpose
Today’s technologists and entrepreneurs desire a way to contribute to public purpose; there’s a hunger for them to be part of something bigger than themselves or their firms. Government may not be what first comes to mind, yet there are incredible opportunities and a need for top talent to confront the challenges of our time. Listen as former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Booz Allen Hamilton CEO, Horacio Rozanski, discuss how technologists can create a future that serves humanity as a whole.

For over 35 years, Secretary Carter has leveraged his experience in national security, technology, and innovation to defend the United States and make a better world. He has done so under presidents of both political parties as well as in the private sector. As Secretary of Defense from 2015 to 2017, he pushed the Pentagon to “think outside its five-sided box.” He changed the trajectory of the military campaign to deliver ISIS a lasting defeat, designed and executed the strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, established a new playbook for the U.S. and NATO to confront Russia’s aggression, and launched a national cyber strategy.

Secretary Carter spearheaded new technological capabilities and a more agile approach to the relationship between the Pentagon and the tech sector. He also transformed the way the Department of Defense recruits, trains, and retains quality people, opening all military positions to women without exception.

American’s Got Hidden Talent: Social Impact Hiring
With unemployment at historically low levels at just over 4%, nearly 2/3 of organizations report difficulties recruiting for open positions — despite many talented people unable to find employment. Simultaneously, the demand for socially innovative companies is increasing, with people looking to invest their time and money in organizations driving positive change. Both of these needs can be fulfilled by tapping into hidden talent populations such as Military Spouses, Opportunity Youth, Baby Boomers and Justice-Involved Individuals. Learn how brands have invested in social impact hiring: talent practices that create business advantage through hiring and developing individuals who often face barriers to opportunity.

One speaker is Melissa Stirling, the Director of Military, Campus and Youth Programs at Hilton. She is responsible for all facets of Hilton integrated military strategy, the largest of which is hiring 30,000 veterans and their family members by the end of 2020. She works with all areas of Hilton’s business to leverage assets and resources to support the military community.

Block(chain)-the-Vote: Mobile Voting by Blockchain
In 2017, five of every 100 New Yorkers voted in the primary election. Five. In the election that essentially chose the city’s leaders, turnout was a record low. That’s a problem, and it isn’t specific to New York City. It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2018, the first mobile votes were cast on a blockchain-based system in a federal election by overseas and military voters registered in the state of West Virginia. The team behind this voting project will share conclusions and explore why the US has some of the lowest voting rates of any democracy in the world.

One speaker is Mac Warner, retired from the United States Army, and West Virginia Secretary of States. Secretary Warner graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and during his career in the United States Army, he served on four continents, deployed to military hot spots around the world, and held a variety of leadership and teaching positions, including Chief of International Law for the U.S. Army Europe in Heidelberg, Germany, and serving on the staff at the U.S. Army War College. After retirement from the Army, Secretary Warner served for five years as a contractor for the U.S. State Department in Afghanistan. He and his wife Debbie Law Warner have four children– all of whom are serving, or have served, in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Overlooked Future of U.S. Entrepreneurs for Latinx
The Latinx community accounts for more than half of the population growth in the U.S., but Latinx founders represent less than 2% of venture-backed companies. Hear from Latinx entrepreneurs and the investors who back them to understand who they are, what they’re building and how they’re making money. One is Dyan Gibbens, who earned her BS in Civil Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she was a member of the Air Force Parachute team. After studying engineering, she learned to fly, then served as an Acquisitions Officer. While managing cruise missiles, a type of unmanned aircraft, she earned her MBA. Gibbens then supported Air Force One and Global Hawk UAS engineering and logistics.

Black Swans Lurking in Interconnected Ecosystems
As the technologies that run our companies and lives become more connected, this ecosystem needs to be secure and consumer privacy equities maintained. Though progress in application layer security has advanced, systemic vulnerabilities in the infrastructure remain, that if exploited, could bring entire networks and industries crashing down. This panel explores what these vulnerabilities are and how to mitigate potentially massive, high visibility service disruptions. One expert on the panel is U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Danelle Barrett, a 1989 graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in History where she received her commission from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in a ceremony aboard USS Constitution. Her operational assignments include tours at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet; commander, 2nd Fleet, Carrier Strike Group Two, Multi-National Forces Iraq, Carrier Strike Group 12, which included deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Unified Response in Haiti; Standing Joint Force Headquarters United States Pacific Command; and deputy director of current operations at U.S. Cyber Command.

Startup-Corporate Partnerships key to Austin innovation
Partnerships between corporations and startups aren’t new. They are just becoming increasingly more critical. Innovation is key for corporations looking to stay relevant, and strong corporate partnerships are often a startup’s most powerful growth hack. According to Boston Consulting Group, 95% of startups wish to develop long-term corporate partnerships. Panelists will discuss how Austin-area companies are approaching innovation differently, what startup-corporate partnerships mean today, and how both startups and corporations can find the right fit.

The panel includes Sabrina Wojtewicz, Executive Director with Bunker Labs, a national nonprofit organization located in 23 chapters across the United States with the mission to inspire, equip and connect the military veteran community to the resources they need to succeed as entrepreneurs and innovators.

More Memories from SXSW 2019
Change is Coming
Urban Mobility
It’s Time for Sports!
Saving the Ocean
Women’s Health
Social Media Power
Telling New Media Stories
Marvel’s Magic
Future Health
May the Fourth
Women in Tech
Growing Unicorns
Thriving at Work
Making a Difference
Fighting Fake News
Disaster Response
Hacking Democracy
Pete Buttigieg
Kara Swisher
Arlan Hamilton

Do these audio recordings inspire you to get involved in a SXSW session next year? Enter your forward-thinking speaking proposal for March 2020 via the SXSW PanelPicker. Speaking proposals for next year’s event are accepted via this interface from July 1 through July 19.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

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Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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