Volume 2, Issue 3

In an ever changing, technologically advancing world, we as a country and defense community are consistently aiming to remain ahead of our adversaries. HDIAC's eight focus areas cover the depth and breadth of some of the most challenging areas across the globe. As a Department of Defense Information Analysis Center, we are equally as excited to be an active part of the innovation solution. HDIAC leverages every tool at its disposal, including our Subject Matter Expert Network; information resources; the latest in science and technology; and research and development advancements from academia, industry and other government agencies to further the goals of the DoD. The HDIAC Journal provides us the opportunity to highlight these various components of our Center as well as R&D, S&T and other innovative developments across our focus areas.  

Articles in this issue of the HDIAC Journal cover CBRN defense, medical, cultural studies and homeland defense and security.  

Two researchers from the University of Rhode Island are developing a new paper-based platform to conduct complex diagnoses, including traumatic brain injury, infections and exposure to toxic agents. Their research and diagnostic platform will be of specific interest and application to military members. In the absence of immediate health care, this provides our service members the ability to rapidly conduct meaningful diagnostic tests. This capability will extend beyond the battlefield and provide the same capacity to our first responders reacting to natural disasters, attacks or other unexpected events. Additionally, medical and military professionals working in remote locations will be able to provide doctors with much needed information to begin preparation for patient treatment.  

Understanding and preparing for disasters with strategic forethought is a key element to mitigating long-term risks and the devolution of key societal structures. The cultural studies article looks at the growing threat of handling disaster management in megacities, specifically identifying the challenges in Lagos, Nigeria which can be applied to many of the other global megacities. Classifying the major social, governmental and security components of any megacity is a necessity. In Lagos, at least half of the city's 20 million inhabitants live in "alternately governed slums" or areas largely outside of government control. In the event of a natural disaster these areas become increasingly difficult to manage, access and provide much needed humanitarian aid. Gaining access to and understanding which local non-governmental organizations operate in various locations of any megacity would be a key element to providing any external disaster response. Providing our first responders and service members with this much needed information could significantly contribute to mission success.  

After more than a decade of combat, many United States service members have suffered extensive battlefield trauma, specifically spinal injuries and the loss of limbs. In our featured article, five scientists from the University of Chicago highlight recent breakthroughs in prosthetics and neuroscience that aim to provide patients with the sense of touch through prosthetics. Some of the most recent advances intend to provide "meaningful and intuitive touch sensations" via biological sensors placed in the skin and through state-of-the-art prosthetics that mimic and move like human limbs. Through extensive research, they are attempting to produce sensations through the sensors in the prosthetic limb based on the amount of pressure applied through the fingers and/or thumb. These developments could significantly improve the mental, emotional and physical recovery for service members adjusting to life with new prosthetic limbs. Additionally, this could further improve the quality of life of all military and civilian amputees outfitted with this advanced prostheses.  

In our last article, a researcher from Clemson University explores avenues to deal with the increasing amounts of global nuclear waste. Based on predictions, we are expected to see a 30 percent increase in global energy consumption and resulting waste products generated from fossil and spent nuclear fuels. The majority of these commercially spent nuclear fuels are stored on site with the aims of reprocessing 96 percent of the remaining uranium. Consequently, the remaining four percent of the waste stream represents a long-term concern as well as a proliferation threat. Security of nuclear waste and nonproliferation are key objectives for the DoD. This article explores techniques utilizing glasses and ceramics to reduce the proliferation threat and the ultimate immobilization of excess weapons-grade nuclear materials. These crystalline ceramics could ultimately provide a much needed solution and approach to dealing with excess nuclear waste generated from the civilian nuclear industry.