NPS President, Ann E. Rondeau, is pleased to share with you her recent Proceedings article: 

 

Technological Leadership: Combining Research and Education for Advantage at Sea

The purpose of the article is to articulate the urgent case for “technological leadership,” and argues for a tighter coupling of Naval research with graduate education to simultaneously accelerate technology applications and develop leaders for the contemporary battlespace. The Tri-Service Maritime Strategy (TSMS) provides context while the article addresses the urgency of preparing leaders for a maritime battlespace rapidly increasing in technical complexity in this era of Great Power Competition (GPC) and the Cognitive age.

 
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Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria

Michael López-Alegría was born in Madrid, Spain, and immigrated as a young boy with his family to the United States. He has over 40 years of aviation and space experience with the U.S. Navy and NASA in a variety of roles, including Naval Aviator, engineering test pilot and program manager, NASA astronaut, and International  Space Station commander.

López-Alegría is currently the Vice President of Business Development for Axiom Space, and has been selected to command the crew of Ax-1, the first fully private orbital space mission in human history. He is a four-time astronaut, having flown on Space Shuttle missions STS-73, STS-92, and STS- 113, and served as Commander of ISS Expedition 14 (flying to and from the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-9). He holds NASA records for the most Extravehicular Activities (EVA) or “spacewalks” (10) and cumulative EVA time (67 hours 40 minutes). He was elected to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame as a 2020 inductee.

López-Alegría is the former President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, where he was a spokesman, thought leader, and advocate with the U.S. Congress and pertinent Executive Agencies for favorable public policy on behalf of the commercial spaceflight industry. He has served on several advisory boards and committees of public and private organizations, including the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee to the FAA.

López-Alegría is the Chairman of ASTM International’s Committee on Commercial Spaceflight as well as the past President of the Association of Space Explorers USA, a professional and educational organization of current and former astronauts. He is based in Washington, DC. Follow @CommanderMLA

Congratulations and good luck on your upcoming mission as a member of the first-ever all-private crew to go into orbit. What can you share about the mission's objectives?

The Ax-1 mission is slated for early 2022. It will be the first fully private mission to the International Space Station. My three crewmates will each be executing their own portfolio of science experiments in collaboration with various international research entities, and they will also conduct outreach events to philanthropic and other organizations.

How did your NPS experience help you realize your dream of becoming an astronaut?

I participated in a cooperative program between NPS and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, which involved a year of study towards a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering, followed by the standard year-long curriculum at USNTPS. The degree and designation as a test pilot are conferred upon completion of the course at TPS. For a military pilot, both are a sort of unwritten requirement for a successful NASA astronaut candidacy.

If you had to give current NPS students one piece of advice, what would it be?

Same advice I give to anyone old enough to listen - follow your dreams. Even lofty goals are within reach with passion and perseverance, and even if the ultimate goal isn’t attained, by doing what you’re passionate about, you have the best chance of being both successful and happy.

NPS is beginning to facilitate more meaningful partnerships with private industry. Given your background in government and private industry, what are the potential benefits of partnerships like these?

There is no question that working with the private sector has some advantages over the government. The most obvious is the agility with which a private company can make decisions - typically, the smaller the company, the faster they can move.

If given the opportunity to participate in the first manned mission to Mars, would you?

Orbiting the Earth (and, while I’m dreaming, going to the Moon – and back) is a beautiful thing. But it’s all in the context of being relatively close to home. The typical design reference missions to Mars are around two years in duration, for most of which the astronauts won’t be able to tell which of those dots is Earth or have a real-time conversation with anyone not on their crew. It’s going to be tough sledding, and there are a lot of technical challenges yet to be solved. All that said, never say never!

 
 

Professor Mohammed Hafez
Associate Professor, National Security Affairs

Mohammed M. Hafez earned his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2000. From 2013–2018, he served as the Chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. A specialist in Islamist movements and political violence, his books include Why Muslims Rebel: Repression and Resistance in the Islamic World (2003); Manufacturing Human Bombs: The Making of Palestinian Suicide Bombers (2006); and Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom (2007). His current book project, The Nearest Enemy: Factionalism and Fratricide in Militant Islamist Networks, investigates inter-rebel wars in Algeria (1992–2002), Iraq (2003–2011), and Syria (2011–2016) using a combination of comparative case analysis and network-analytic methodologies.

Dr. Hafez is also the author of over 25 journal articles and book chapters on political radicalization, foreign fighters, and Islamist ideologies. He regularly briefs government and military analysts on issues related to terrorism, the war of ideas, and countering radicalization. Dr. Hafez has made several appearances on PBS News Hour, NPR, CNN, C-SPAN, and other national and international media forums.

Your research has focused on Islamic extremism and radicalization, and countering violent extremism. What was the impetus behind your interest in this area?

As a Muslim American, I became interested in how militants deploy Islamic texts and traditions to motivate acts of political violence in the modern world. Many stereotypes and simplistic theories surround this phenomenon, but my intuition led me to believe that the violence has non-religious roots. This is quite a complex issue and cuts across religious traditions and ideological movements. This research has become personal to me because my religious heritage is erroneously implicated in terrorism, and many of the victims of extremists are Muslims.

In 2019 you co-authored an article on rebel movements in Syria. What insights into the recent airstrike in Syria can you share?

Iran, over the past two decades, has exploited conflicts in neighboring states in order to expand its network of local alliances and intimidate rival states. Since President Biden has been sworn in, Iranian-backed groups have increased their low-intensity violence against American bases and facilities in Iraq. It is common for adversarial states to test an incoming administration to get a sense of what they could get away with. President Biden chose to respond by attacking Iranian-backed militias that reside on the Iraq-Syria border to deliver a message of deterrence. He is essentially saying that we will respond to your attacks on a tit-for-tat basis. He chose to attack on the Syrian side of the border in order not to embarrass the Iraqi government by violating its sovereignty. The US is less concerned with Syrian sovereignty since the Syrian regime is not an ally of the US.

Would you share your thoughts comparing radical extremism in Islamic nations versus the surge of radicalism in the US? 

I believe that the mechanisms of radicalization that one finds in Islamist movements can also be found in the radical movements right here in the U.S. Specifically, radical movements, regardless of their ideological content, rely on four elements to radicalize their members: grievances, ideological narratives, network connections, and enabling environments and support structures. Of course, there are unique features as well, but I suspect the overlap in radicalization mechanisms is greater than the differences between them.

You get a lot of facetime with NPS students. How would you describe the collective student body?

I taught at civilian institutions before coming to NPS in 2008. I think our students are unique in two respects. First, many of them come to our classrooms with real-world experiences that truly matter. We educate foreign area officers that have been overseas in combat, intelligence, or advisory roles. Some are security cooperation specialists that know a great deal about our partner nations in the combatant command regions. I find that I learn a lot from them even as I try to impart my bit of knowledge to them. They are truly a pleasure to engage in this regard. Second, many of our students are eager to put their past experiences into an intellectual framework that can help them make sense of the past as well as improve as they promote through the ranks. This makes them serious students who are eager to learn, ask critical questions, and reflect on past policy failures in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terrorism. They seize the educational opportunity in the fullest sense possible.

What is one thing you would recommend to all students during their time here in Monterey? 

I have published with few students over the years. They have a lot to offer experientially, and they should make an effort to link up with their professors to combine their academic knowledge with their experiences to publish aspects of their theses and classroom papers.

 
 

LtCol (sel) Regan Lyon, Student  
U.S. Air Force 

Lt.Col.(sel) Regan Lyon is an Air Force emergency medicine physician and Defense Analysis student at NPS. Upon completion of her emergency medical residency, she was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Army Airfield as the flight surgeon and medical director for the squadron medical element. During this assignment, she deployed with the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron as the flight surgeon and medical director. She oversaw continuing medical education and served as an operation center liaison in a deployed SOF operation to coordinate patient evacuation. From 2015-2016, LtCol Lyon served as the medical director and flight commander for the Osan Emergency Department in South Korea and was responsible for planning the department’s contingency casualty response. She returned to special operations in 2016 after being selected for the Special Operations Surgical Team (SOST). Following her initial training phase, she deployed as the team’s emergency medicine physician in 2017 to Raqqa, Syria, providing austere damage control surgery and resuscitation capabilities in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. In 2018, she was appointed as the SOST Team Leader and led her team during a deployment to Syria in 2019.

LtCol Lyon has specific interests in the employment of medicine on the battlefield, extending from point of injury to austere surgery, and its impact on operations. She has been a guest speaker at multiple medical conferences to present advancements in trauma care on the battlefield. In recognition of her academic contributions, she was appointed an Assistant Professorship at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, where she helped develop the medical school’s operational medicine course and text.

What are some highlights from your time at NPS?

I started at NPS in March 2020, so I have never experienced what the school was like before COVID-19, but I would have to say the weather and the scenery! Even though LtCol Lyon is an accomplished scuba diver, she said that she hasn't been able to explore the bay as much as she would like because of COVID restrictions and because she works at a local civilian hospital on weekends.

Why did you initially decide to join the military?

My parents were in the Air Force. I didn’t know what life outside of the military was like. When I was younger, I would only be interested in a job/career if the military had spots for it. When asked how working in a civilian hospital differs from her military career, she replied, "it's painful and a bit like Groundhog Day. It's much harder to work together and collaborate on a patient's health."

What are some of the most significant moments in your military career thus far?

My time on the surgical teams was fantastic, especially my time as a team leader. It gave me a lot of insight into operations and mission planning, and I loved working with the operators to optimize our effectiveness by employment of surgical support for US and partner forces.  

 
 

Captain Yvonne Sanchez, Student
U.S. Marine Corps

Originally from Los Angeles, Captain Yvonne Sanchez is the first generation of her family to grow up in the U.S. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelors in Theoretical Mathematics, and is currently in the Computer Science Master’s program at NPS with an interest in pursuing the Artificial Intelligence specialization. She is also working with command at the Pentagon to focus her research efforts on a modeling project that could help the Marine Corps save money by no longer needing contract support in that area.

What are some highlights from your time at NPS?  

When I arrived at NPS, the COVID pandemic was already in full swing. My biggest highlight is the camaraderie I have developed with my cohort – we’ve really come together as a cohort and have built a supportive community during this time of Distance Learning regardless of never seeing each other in person. Another highlight is having participated in the Warfare Innovation Continuum event last September, where we got to learn from a diverse panel about innovative concepts and applied design thinking principles to tackle our focus problem. The newest highlight is establishing a group called Women in Computing (WIC) at NPS with the help of Dr. Elizabeth Gooch. There are far fewer women who join the military, become military officers, and also come to NPS: We wanted to create this supportive community aiming to positively impact women now and into the future.

Why did you initially decide to join the military? 

I initially decided to join the Marine Corps because I wanted to do things most people were not willing to do and would also allow me to set myself up for success, as well as for my family in the future. I knew the military was full of opportunities where I could develop my leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills, and I would be able to take those skills with me wherever I went. I also wanted to be able to serve others at the highest level, and I knew I would have the opportunity to impact Marines’ lives directly and help them achieve their goals.

What are some of the most significant moments in your military career thus far?

The most significant moment in my military career was being able to participate and win 1st place at the Marine Corps’ first Hybrid Logistics Symposium held at the University of California, San Diego, in 2018. With only 100 Marines in attendance, we got to learn about innovative technologies and active research meant to improve our ability to operate in tomorrow’s battlefield. We got to work with some of the brightest minds in the Marine Corps and pitch our ideas for how we can move forward as an organization.

My other significant moments have been the different exercises and missions I’ve been able to complete. As the Logistics Officer for a high-operational tempo unit, I had the opportunity to serve in a myriad of roles for planning, security, readiness, motor transport, and overall logistics support. To say it was complex is an understatement, but my Marines set the example and accomplished the mission every time. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from and personally receive mentorship from great leaders who inspired me to think outside the box and pursue innovative solutions.

What are some of your future goals and aspirations? 

After receiving my master's in computer science here at NPS, I will have the privilege to work at the Pentagon. My first aspiration is to work on big picture projects that aid in the improvement of operations at the squadron/battalion level. My second aspiration is currently in the works. While I am still a student, I am developing an educational framework that can improve the culture for women in the Marine Corps. The intent is to implement this in the Marine Corps educational system because I firmly believe that improving the culture for women will directly improve the lives of all Marines in the service.

 
 

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