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NPS Experts Talk Taliban Narrative, Cyber Deterrence During Roundtable Discussion
U.S. Navy Photo by MC1 Lewis Hunsaker

NPS Experts Talk Taliban Narrative, Cyber Deterrence During Roundtable Discussion

By MC1 Lewis Hunsaker

Vice Adm. Frank Pandolfe, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended a roundtable discussion with NPS faculty in Herrmann Hall, June 15, a day before he served as commencement speaker for the institution’s Spring Quarter Graduation ceremony.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event. The last time I was at NPS was around Christmas time in 2001,” said Pandolfe. “Everyone was so friendly and I just thought NPS was a very beautiful place.”

During the discussion, NPS faculty from the university’s School of International Graduate Studies briefed Pandolfe on current capabilities and research initiatives. Of particular interest was an overview of NPS’ Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR) and the Department of National Security Affairs (NSA), as well as topical discussions on specific subjects, such as the Taliban narrative with Dr. Thomas Johnson and strategic cyber deterrence with lecturer Scott Jasper.

“We are a very forward leaning group ... We are not just looking at traditional issues, but also issues that are going to affect us in the future,” said Dr. Mohammed Hafez, NSA department Chair.

Johnson, an Associate Research Professor and Director of the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies, has been studying Afghanistan for nearly 30 years.

“I first went to Afghanistan in 1986 and one of the things that truly impressed me was their narratives, their stories,” said Johnson. “From my perspective, these wars are at least 80 percent informational and maybe 20 percent kinetic.

“One of the great things about being at NPS is we have robust programs that are going to allow us to do better [information operations] ... My work not only focuses on how the Taliban did this, but also how it compares to ours.”

Johnson says these narratives will continue to dictate future conflict, and he is developing a new course to offer students a more in depth analysis of them.

Another topic of particular interest centered on cyber deterrence, with up and coming expert lecturer Scott Jasper leading the discussion.

“Active cyber defense offers strategic options to strengthen traditional deterrence options ... I look at how active cyber defense is technically capable, and legally viable, both inside and outside the network,” said Jasper.

In his role as Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pandolfe represents the chairman in interagency matters, focusing on international relations and politico-military concerns, and also acts as military representative to the Secretary of State.

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June 2017


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