New Short Fiction: UNDERBELLY

If the US slashes its involvement in NATO in the near-future, how might the alliance respond to Russian aggression in the Baltics? This short story, UNDERBELLY, explores the intersection of narrative combat, irregular warfare and great power conflict against a backdrop of NATO’s strongest nations lacking the American military might they depended on for decades. 

The major general had forged his 31-year career in the British Army by sheer will, be it through SAS selection, stultifying desk jobs, Iraq, Afghanistan, a PhD in Russian literature, and much more. But just getting his fork from the plate to his mouth required more strength than he’d ever had. Two peas, nested in cold mashed potatoes, perched upon the tines. The room’s sole candle cast a long shadow across the tabletop, the mobile phone flipped screen-down next to an untouched, perfectly creased paper napkin. An inch off the plate was as far as he could get. It had been 18 hours since he’d last eaten but there was just no room in his stomach for food anymore. The profound need to prevail would sustain him until this was all over.

“Sir, you have a few more minutes,” said his aide, an American Army colonel, Shane Williams. “I can see if the kitchen can make something else, have them send it back.”

Maj. Gen. Hugh Fessenden shook his sizeable head and stood up, brushing non-existent crumbs from his jeans and thick brown sweater. He clutched his phone in his bony right hand. The totem of his anxiety. He stood a head shorter than Williams, yet the American looked at him with real admiration. The Cotswold countryside English pub, the Eagle Inn, was older than the United States. In another hundred years, this would be seen as a historic place and moment. Fessenden was the man making it happen. Williams was one of the few American uniformed military advisors still working with NATO since the United States pulled all of its land forces out of Europe two years ago. He would have a front-row seat to history, which was why he had joined the military more than 20 years ago.

Read more at West Point’s Modern War Institute.

What Will Be The Weapons Of World War III?

I’ve been to auto shows in Detroit and air shows in Paris, but SXSW Interactive in Austin is a first. I’ll be heading there this weekend to talk Saturday afternoon about the fiction and non-fiction work I’ve been doing around the future of warfare. The talk will draw heavily from my work with Peter W. Singer on Ghost Fleet, our novel that comes out in June.  We’ll focus on technology, but also how to go about creating alternative futures that have a foundation rooted in today’s realities. The conference is a great chance to talk to leading innovators, designers and thinkers about the future of defense and security — and the role the latest inventions and creations will play.

Here’s the official blurb on our event Saturday at the Austin Convention Center:
America’s military fought insurgents and terrorists for more than a decade yet tensions between the world’s great powers now make an unthinkable global conflict a real consideration. Take a tour of the high- and low-tech weapons of the next world war with renowned futurist and strategist Peter W. Singer and former Wall Street Journal reporter and defense analyst August Cole. Moderated by Dave Anthony, the acclaimed director of the best-selling Call of Duty games, the discussion will explore the wartime role of Silicon Valley startups, Americans as 21st Century insurgents, how a junkyard hot-rod mindset can save the Air Force and Navy from defeat, the art of zero-gravity combat and the critical role cyber warriors in and out of uniform will play in the next world war’s decisive battles. With unique perspectives informed by the highest levels of defense policy, journalism and entertainment, the panel will go inside the battlefield tech of tomorrow.

Debt fight reveals strategic vulnerabilities

During the past month, great harm has been done at home and abroad to American competitiveness, and by extension U.S. national security. It will take the better part of the next decade to repair. This winter, when Congress takes up the budget and debt ceiling debate yet  again there will be plenty of hope that this time will be different. In the meantime, most observers will start to look for renewed signs of confidence in the country among the halls of Congress or within the Oval Office. But the place to watch is across the Pacific.

Read more at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.

Not getting it: Congress and national security

As Congress let another opportunity to prove America’s doubters wrong slip through its fingers, lawmakers at least saw fit to pass legislation to make sure that our armed forces will still be paid. Amid a government shutdown that puts hundreds of thousands of federal workers out of work, that must be cold comfort when seen from a chilly outpost in Afghanistan or a carrier deck in the Persian Gulf. After a decade of war during which the all-volunteer force has been ground down deployment-by-deployment, it was the moral, and political, thing to do – all in the name of national security. But it also reflects a huge gap in Congress’ understanding of what makes up American national security in the 21st Century. If lawmakers truly comprehended the source of U.S. power, they never would have allowed the shutdown to take place.

Read more at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.