Department of Defense Considerations for Disaster Response

This SOAR focuses on technologies and methods relevant to disaster response. The concept and practice of disaster response aligns with at least five of HDIAC’s focus areas: Critical Infrastructure Protection, CBRN Defense, Cultural Studies, Homeland Defense and Security, and Medical. Because disaster response is a broad and diverse field, this report addresses six areas in which scientific and technical (S&T) research and development (R&D) are most likely to intersect with improving disaster response practices relevant to DoD and defending the homeland. These areas are communications management, data management, responder protection, search and rescue (SAR) technologies, supply chain management, and radiation emergencies.

This report also highlights six areas of technology likely to have an outsized effect on the current state and future practice of disaster response. These are blockchain technology and software, autonomous systems or drones, networked devices known as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) (sometimes known as or associated with machine learning), robotics, and the use of social media in response activities. Use of these technologies has already contributed to the safety of first responders and enhanced situational awareness in response situations.

Methods for Investigating Chemical-Biological Weapons Use

This SOAR focuses on technologies and methods regarding the investigation of alleged chemical and/or biological weapons use as it pertains to DoD’s mission to protect U.S. forces and the homeland from chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Strategically and operationally, countering these weapons to ensure that the United States and our allies and partners are never attacked nor threatened by them remains a top priority for DoD. If an adversary or rogue nation uses chemical or biological weapons, it is critical to ensure that DoD and civilian leaders are provided with accurate, reliable, specific, and timely information in the wake of an attack.

This data may include information regarding an agent’s type, origin, concentration (or lethality), and other salient technical characteristics necessary to inform: (a) a potential determination of source, (b) the target and scope of a military quick reaction force counter-assault activity, and/or (c) what protective measures should be taken by personnel under threat of further attack.

This report focuses on two major aspects of chemical and biological weapons use: (a) the state of the art in advanced sensor technology (the fundamental core of the defense mission at hand) and (b) organizational best practices and tools for ensuring accurate and comprehensive situational awareness of chemical and biological weapons, precursor materials and substances, and the related resources required to develop and weaponize chemical and biological agents. This SOAR highlights recent, cutting-edge research in this field that will be essential for warfighter protection and sustainment in the next five to 10 years.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Defense Applications

This State of the Art Report focuses on applications of Artificial Inteligence (AI) that are relevant to DoD and other governmental agencies that share similar goals, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community. HDIAC collaborated with subject matter experts to obtain interpretations on relevant applications of AI to DoD and other agencies that could similarly incorporate AI into their operations. Discussions narrowed on relevant applications that have been in use for the past three years as well as advances that could become commercialized within the next 18–24 months. Given the vast amount of information, this report is not all-inclusive and is only a survey of prominent developments.

Recent advances in the field demonstrate new AI capabilities, such as sight, speech, and even moral/ethical reasoning [5-7]. These advances all show a common theme that machines are able to learn, adapting or amending their predetermined programming based on new input. The ability for machines to learn can be incorporated into weaponry and other applications used within DoD to support DoD strategy. AI is redefining the way wars are fought and won, as has been the case with many emerging technologies throughout history.

Although AI is often thought of as a part of computer science and typically viewed from a cyber perspective, applications of AI are relevant to all eight HDIAC focus areas. This report covers applications to Alternative Energy; Biometrics; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense; Critical Infrastructure Protection; Cultural Studies; Homeland Defense and Security; Medicine; and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In some cases, the discussions group together areas that either overlap well or where information on AI applications is thin, and it made more sense to integrate relevant areas in order to provide a more robust perspective.

Critical Infrastructure Resilience

Critical infrastructure is composed of assets necessary to the U.S. government, military, individuals, and private industry. The 16 U.S. critical infrastructure sectors are chemical; commercial facilities; communications; critical manufacturing; dams; defense industrial base; emergency services; energy; financial services; food and agriculture; government facilities; healthcare and public health; information technology; nuclear reactors, materials, and waste; transportation systems; and water and wastewater systems. Disturbances to critical infrastructure through events such as natural disasters and terrorist actions threaten the U.S. economy, national security, and citizens’ quality of life.

This State of the Art Report (SOAR) focuses on the concept of critical infrastructure resilience. In 2013, the White House issued Presidential Policy Directive 21 for Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience to strengthen critical infrastructure. Resilience provides critical infrastructure an enhanced ability to mitigate the detrimental effects of adverse events. Resilience can be achieved through many avenues. This report highlights research, technology, and concepts that can be applied to support critical infrastructure resilience.

Report contributors are Homeland Defense & Security Information Analysis Center (HDIAC) subject matter experts with training and experience from a wide array of fields, including chemical, civil, computer and electrical engineering; geography; urban and community planning; disaster relief; emergency management; public health; and alternative energy. The topics discussed in this report include investment planning, computational models, smart grid, electricity pricing, natural nanomaterials, and community resilience. These concepts can be applied to improve critical infrastructure resilience across several HDIAC focus areas, including Alternative Energy, CBRN Defense, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Homeland Defense and Security, and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

PTSD: Applications & Future Directions in Behavioral Medicine & Clinical Neuroscience

Global conflict and political instability have increased our nation’s military operations and deployments. Missions occur more frequently, in unpredictable environments, resulting in less time for soldiers to recover mentally and physically. Many active duty service members return from combat with symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Although research in these areas is on-going, accurate reporting and assessment and effective interventions are lacking. Understanding the progression of PTSD, the neural mechanisms involved, and the compounding impact of mTBI and other comorbidities is imperative. Increased knowledge will enable the military to improve in first-line interventions, including predictive and resilience training.

This State of the Art Report (SOAR) presents recent research in behavioral medicine and clinical neuroscience as it relates to PTSD, which often occurs with mTBI and other comorbidities. Current gaps in knowledge and treatment ineffectiveness underscore the need for the military to more specifically and comprehensively address military-related PTSD and mTBI in active duty soldiers and veterans. Of particular interest are new scientific perspectives driving research and shifting paradigms; innovative technologies for delivering interventions; and emerging research in predictive and resilience training.

Uses of Nanotechnology on Surfaces for Military Applications

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at an atomic level to produce new materials, referred to as engineered nanomaterials. Particles at this scale typically range in sizes from 1 to 100 nanometers (nm) in at least one dimension. A nm is one-billionth of a meter. To put this into perspective, DNA is 2 nm wide, and a human hair is approximately 50,000 nm wide. At this scale, the physicochemical properties of particles behave very differently than larger particles of similar composition. The characteristics of these particles make them highly desirable for certain applications. One of the most exciting developments of engineered nanomaterials is in surfaces used for military purposes. The Department of Defense (DoD) is scheduled to spend more than $130 million on nanotechnology research in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a major federal nanotechnology research initiative, directly supports eight DoD research and development (R&D) organizations. The DoD has been a member of the NNI since its inception in 2000; however, the state of nanotechnology and its incorporation into defense strategy has changed over the past 16 years. Although the majority of nanotechnology research is still many years away from being commercialized for practical use, some current applications of engineered nanomaterials and some late-stage research show promise for enhancing the performance of military products. Because surfaces almost exclusively dictate the functionality of an object and often can be modified with great success, nanotechnology and nanomaterials are increasingly important to the military. This state of the art report (SOAR) provides the DoD with an overview of some of the most promising new- and close-to-market nanotechnologies with military applications, along with a compendium of practical knowledge that can be used to develop a research strategy and streamline acquisition of new nanotechnologies and materials.