NEWS | May 1, 2008

GISC interns analyze, propose solutions to real-world issues

By SSgt. Alicia Prakash U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

GISC Intern Addresses Panel

Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. -- Twelve Global Innovation and Strategy Center (GISC) interns unveiled the outcomes of a four-month study designed to develop solutions addressing topics of national interest during a presentation in the U.S. Strategic Command Theater Monday.

The twelve interns were asked to evaluate topics presented on behalf of U.S. Central Command and the Joint Functional Component Command Network Warfare officials involving the Middle East economy and cyberspace issues, respectively.

The Global Innovation and Strategy Center's Internship Program builds multi-disciplinary teams of six to ten exceptional graduate and undergraduate students to provide an unclassified, non-military perspective on Department of Defense problem sets and issues.

The six–student team studying Middle East economic development began with the intent of answering the following questions:
"" What are the current political, social and economic conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran?
"" How can the U.S. government encourage economic development in those countries?
"" What are the short-term and long-term effects of economic sanctions on Iran?

""In these countries, which are of high-level interest to the United States, state stability is a necessity for national security,"" said Kyle Borowski, UNO student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering.

Borowski and the Middle East economic team created a matrix of the three countries divided in areas of political, military, economic, social, infrastructure and information conditions. They used the matrix to determine key conditions in each country.

They concluded that Afghanistan has three overarching issues: uncontrolled opium production, weak security provision, and lack of capacity to absorb aid and support economic development.

For the opium issue, the team proposed substituting crops and industries. Because the opium problem feeds into and off of the weak level of security in Afghanistan, security solutions must be established.

""To increase security, the Afghan national army and Afghan national police must become more self-reliant,"" said Erica Tesla, UNO student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Physics.

She suggests augmenting Afghan military strategies and implementing culturally-based strategic communications to resolve the security issues. The strategies should include cultural awareness campaigns, increasing incentives, and boosting International Security Assistance Forces, according to Tesla.

As a means of combating the lack of national security, the team of Nebraska students suggests providing job training to Afghan military family members, expanding United States Agency for International Development programs and enhancing Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

For Iraq, the group discovered unemployment, weak infrastructure, political gridlock and lack of interagency collaboration to be the barriers to economic development. To combat those issues, the team's recommendations included expansion of agriculture and construction sectors, development of human capital and adoption electoral thresholds.

""The elimination of small parties would do much to ensure the stability of the Iraq government,"" said Alan Hickle, Creighton University student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics. ""Studies of government durability have shown that the amount of time a government stays in power is inversely related to the number of parties and directly related to the size of the largest party in the legislature. ""

To address the effects of economic sanctions on Iran, one recommendation the Middle East team proposed was to create new policies of targeted sanctions.

""We recommended the expansion of U.S. efforts to target individuals and institutions that play a role in policies that support terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons technology, or oppress the citizens of Iran in a brazen manner,"" said Hickle. ""These sanctions should be consistently monitored and shifted as actors respond to them. ""

The cyber warfare team focused on how the U.S. should characterize hostile cyberspace acts.

""A lack of clarity and focus across domestic and international policies is seen whenever a hostile act in cyberspace occurs,"" said Kyle Dobitz, UNL student pursuing a degree in Computer Engineering.

He and his team designed a continuum for cyber acts with benign acts on one end and extreme hostile acts on the opposing end of the spectrum. They incorporated four factors (motivation, intent, target and effects) and critical components of each.

""A benign act might be represented by a person legitimately logging into their own bank account, whereas an individual able to access and remove classified information from a database at NORAD to sell overseas may be classified as extremely hostile,"" Dobitz said.

Based on the team's research, they recommend standardizing terminology and reporting procedures and producing rules of engagement.

""A set, universal language across both the private and public sector would promote easier tracking and reporting of events,"" said Amanda Jokerst from UNO pursuing a degree in Political Science. ""In turn, this standardization would help resolve disagreements surrounding the definitions of cyber attack, cyber incident, and cyber warfare. ""

""This was a success,"" said 1st Lt Kevin Johnson, GISC intern program manager.

He said one of the lessons learned from this internship was the necessary and beneficial opportunity for the interns to work directly with the organizations that initially requested the topics.

""We worked with the customer the whole way through,"" Johnson said. ""We were able to make sure they got what they were looking for. ""

This is the third team of GISC interns tasked to investigate Department of Defense problem sets and issues. Previous topics included:
"" creating technological solutions and policy recommendations on space debris
"" creating technological solutions and policy recommendations on tunnel detection in the United States
"" exploring methods of communications in the Pan-Sahel Africa to find effective ways to deliver credible information to a local population.

The next internship is set for the summer 2008 semester with a focus in the cyber space arena.