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Lt. Cmdr. Hans Lauzen, USN

Masters Candidate, Space Systems Operations, NPS
Masters Candidate, Defense and Security Studies, Naval War College

Lt. Cmdr. Hans Michael Lauzen is a native of Aurora, Illinois and graduated from University of Southern California with a BS in Business Administration. Upon commissioning, he reported to USS KIDD (DDG 100). During his 2011/2012 deployment, Lauzen was part of the team that led to the rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen from their Somalian pirate captors, garnering international acclaim. In 2014, Lauzen was transferred to USS ESSEX (LHD 2), where he served as the Combat Information Center Officer.

Upon completion of his back-to-back sea tours, Lauzen transferred to the Pentagon where he served on the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff as a communication analyst interpreting scientific studies to guide strategic investment in the DOD’s future communication and satellite systems. From 2019-2022, Lauzen served as a Presidential Communication Officer at the White House Military Office, where he coordinated communication equipment installation and support for the Commander in Chief’s travel. Additionally, he served in the White House Military Office’s innovation cell, focused on new technology development to protect the continuity of the presidency. In January 2021, Lauzen was hand-selected to build the $2M+ virtual environment infrastructure, strategy, operations, and continuity at the White House complex. While in DC, Lauzen earned his MBA at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

Lauzen’s current research at NPS and NWC supports Naval Special Warfare (NSW) beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) Command and Control (C2) systems of multi-domain unmanned-systems (UxS) by leveraging proliferated low earth orbit (pLEO) constellations, both commercial and military within the Hybrid Space Architecture. His study revolves around assured communications during degraded/denied environments with proper Navy-approved encryption & LPI/LPD capabilities and TTPs to enable long-haul, high bandwidth communication channels to the afloat CSG fleets and other decision makers.

"The "special sauce" and competitive advantage of the Naval Postgraduate School is the Venn diagram of validated operational needs from operators in the Fleet, academic research arms within the school to test new ideas, and the connection with industry to have some of the best minds and talent solve these complicated DOD problems."

What has been most impactful about your time at NPS? How do you think your time at NPS will contribute to your ability to innovate and adopt technology as a military leader?

The Naval Postgraduate School has given me a keen eye to see through theory and land on practical application of technology. The Space Systems Academic Group curriculum, professors, staff and cohort has given me a new-found appreciation of the importance of strenuous academic rigor, deep research and understanding, and teamwork. Alongside that, my team's thesis research has given me a new lens to evaluate levels of technology from idea to concept to minimum viable product to transitioned capability and how difficult the innovation process is within the Department of Defense. In the future, I hope this work will help me and my teammates gather the tools to disrupt the defense innovation sector for the rest of our careers.

Collaboration with industry partners, such as Saronic Technologies, has been integral to the development of your autonomous over-the-horizon solution. Could you discuss the role of industry partnerships in advancing defense research initiatives at NPS, and how these collaborations benefit both academia and industry?

The "special sauce" and competitive advantage of the Naval Postgraduate School is the Venn diagram of validated operational needs from operators in the Fleet, academic research arms within the school to test new ideas, and the connection with industry to have some of the best minds and talent solve these complicated DOD problems. In our Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partnership example, NPS' connection with Saronic Technologies has exceeded our wildest expectations. Their level of knowledge of cutting-edge technology, their dedicated and brilliant team, and flexibility and availability to work this complicated problem has been nothing short of a force multiplier.  

Through a CRADA, academia and their students get a boost in their ranks of talented engineers with an up-to-date understanding of emerging technology; industry gets an opportunity to solve the most challenging problems of warfighters today, and a chance to influence the future of defense technology.

What were some of the major challenges or gaps in existing naval communication systems that your autonomous over-the-horizon solution aimed to address?

A paradigm shift is underway in the Department of Defense. Long gone are the days of sole American dominance of the battlespace, electromagnetic spectrum, and the communication airwaves. In the past, the "big juicy target satellites" in geostationary orbit were free to communicate to ships, aircraft and shore stations without interference, and American battlegroups were free to defend freedom around the world without delay. Now, as near peer adversaries bolster their threats to the status quo with electromagnetic, unmanned and cyber threats, the American military must get creative to combat these emerging challenges, not to mention battling the ever-present asymmetric threats from non-state actors. Simply put, being able to communicate over the horizon has become harder, and we believe our work within the unmanned space is a possible solution to the challenge that will determine the outcome of the 21st century.

Beyond the technical aspects, how do you envision the integration of autonomous over-the-horizon systems influencing broader strategic considerations within the Department of Defense, such as force posture, deterrence and interoperability with allied forces?

Every day in the news, it's hard to NOT find a story about how autonomous systems are making an impact on the 21st century battlefield, whether that's in Ukraine, the Middle East or in emerging theaters. Being able to send an unmanned system into harm's way instead of one of your own people will always be the choice of political and military leadership and may create an asymmetric advantage to a larger or smaller power. Therefore, the DOD must integrate these new weapons and communications systems quickly into its arsenal, through practical policy changes, sponsored innovation programs, and manufacturing incentives. Once integrated and tested properly in the Fleet, these systems can make decisions harder for adversaries and continue to give America (and its allies) the competitive technological advantage it has enjoyed during the last 70 years of Pax Americana. The posture of the force can and should change with these technological advancements; deterrence will be maintained if used properly; our allies will continue to choose us over others if we integrate this cutting-edge technology properly.

You had the opportunity to brief senior leaders on your research during the inaugural Naval Space Summit at NPS in March 2023. Why is the Naval Postgraduate School the right place to convenegovernment leaders, industry experts and academia to discuss the challenges, needs and opportunities of space operations unique to the maritime domain?  

For over 100 years, the Naval Postgraduate School has been the place where warfighters meet academics and industry partners to dive into science, math, engineering, and emerging technologies to solve the operational problems of each generation – from fleet strategies and tactics of World War II to the complicated integrated warfighting concepts of the Global War on Terror.

In this generation of Great Power Competition, the space domain is one of the most important competitive arenas that will determine the outcome of conflicts to come. NPS provides that background and reputation of professionalism, academic know-how, operational experience and, most importantly, enthusiastic students (especially in the Space Systems Academic Group) who are dedicated to lead the next fight. There is no other place in the country where more mid-grade Naval Officers learn orbital mechanics, space communications, space policy, and computer programming than at NPS. In the future, these well-challenged master’s students will become the next Chief Naval Officers, astronauts, and government and industry leaders. NPS is the perfect place to host these events because the relationships between all the players already exist here. The American leadership must simply continue to invest, learn, and harvest the hard work and critical thinking happening at NPS, especially in the space domain.

Could you discuss the value of platforms like the Sea-Air-Space conference for NPS students in terms of connecting with industry and DOD leaders? How does this interaction benefit both students and the broader defense community?

In my short time in the military, I've learned that any good idea coming from the ranks of the military, the labs of academia and the innovative minds of industry must meet the test of Washington, D.C., with Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House getting a vote. The Sea-Air-Space conference is a yearly trade show that brings all the players trying to influence those votes into one large convention room floor. From a student's perspective, I was able to understand the major players in the innovation space, meet the various decision makers, and present my thesis research to build a coalition of the willing in Washington and elsewhere.Students get a glimpse of the decision-making process in Washington, D.C., and the broader defense community gets to hear from the nation's leading military research institution.

Additionally, many NPS alumni will likely find themselves at the Pentagon or in Washington and can directly apply the lessons learned from their curriculums, their research, and their experience at NPS to better inform future problems the military faces with an understanding of vocabulary, decision points and program offices.

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