Todd Forsman joined the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 90s. His path eventually led him to the Naval Postgraduate School and a career connecting emerging technologies with the Department of Defense. Forsman is the co-founder of Levenhall, a dual-use innovation advisory firm focused on enhancing collaboration and providing emerging technology to intelligence operators and warfighters at a time of global strategic competition. He recently accepted a position with TMGcore as a Government Contracting Specialist. Forsman keeps his pulse on national security and international affairs through his work as an advisor with both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Security Innovation Network.
My experience at NPS I would say rearranged me on a molecular level, opened my eyes to things I just didn't understand or knew were out there. It really showed me a greater impact than I thought I would ever be able to have.
For me, the Joint Interagency Field Experimentation is one of the few venues where we have good civ-mil interaction. It used to be back in the day that defense had kind of a monopoly on all R&D technologies. The commercial side now is very much leading in that space, but we don't have formalized structures [like some of our near-peer competitors do.] But we do have things like the Joint Interagency Field Experimentation, which allow experimentation and collaboration between the public and private sector in a way that is mutually beneficial to all parties. It’s something that directly impacts our national security in a way that is hard to actually put numbers or values on. But you can see it when it's happening. Without this we would be very far behind in my opinion. JIFX is — I participate in a lot of different venues like this and of course I’m an NPS alumnus so maybe I'm a little biased, but — this is the best one. It’s a great place to put everybody together and get everyone to start thinking of collaborating in this positive and mutually beneficial way. Citizens are working with citizens to make sure national security is addressed.
Over the last 4-5 years I've seen a different culture emerge and there's been more room for discussion about innovation and more civ-mil interaction than I remember coming through the ranks and during my active-duty career. And I think that's all good, positive steps, however, I think we are still behind. I think we just need to accelerate the way we interact civ-mil wise on all fronts, and don’t create a civ-mil divide. It shouldn’t be there. We’re all citizens. We’re all part of the same nation. Technology is very important on the battlefield, for our economy, for multiple things going on, and we need to collaborate and talk about that with one another. You have to create mechanisms that allow those conversations to happen and institutionalize those mechanisms. So, things like JIFX, we need more of them, we need to fund them, and we need to promote them from both sides of the house, both public and private.