Inaugural celebration of West Point authors’ works

Story and photo by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

March 9th, 2017 | News, News and Features
Dr. Robert Person, assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences, remarked on his “Balance of Threat: The domestic insecurity of Vladimir Putin” during a Celebration of West Point Authors. This event was a celebration of the more than 100 works of scholarship produced at the Academy between July and December 2016 with four professors and instructors adding their expertise of publications or presentations around the topic of security Feb. 27 at Jefferson Hall.
Lt. Col. Tanya Estes, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, speaks on a capstone project which is designed to teach cybersecurity to non-technical users at the Celebration of West Point Authors, Feb. 27 at Jefferson Hall.

West Point staff and faculty gathered in the Haig Room at Jefferson Hall Library and Learning Center Feb. 27 for the inaugural celebration of more than 100 works of West Point authors during the months of July through December 2016. The works could be in the form of a scientific paper, capstone project or a publication.

Four authors were selected to present short excerpts of publications or presentations around the topic of security.

Lt. Col. Remi M. Hajjar, Academy professor in the Behavioral Science and Leadership department, spoke on his project, “Effectively Working with Military Linguists: Vital Intercultural Intermediaries.”

Hajjar conducted a survey, went through over a 100 documents, reducing it to 20 that were relevant to his project and conducted 11 interviews that lasted an hour each for the linguist project.

“Advising a military mission is when U.S. Soldiers serving as military advisers provide consultation, advice, strategy, tactics and a variety of things that make a foreign military counterpart more efficient, competent and professional. Unless the counterpart shares the same language, there is usually a linguist there,” Hajjar said. “Often times a linguist is there to help initiate the communication and over time actually builds a relationship with the military counterpart. It stretches beyond mere language skills.”

Hajjar said the linguist’s background is important. They should be cross-cultural and open with working with different people.

“And in regard to security requirements in the 21st century, I think the use of linguists and the variety of soft missions including the military adviser mission are growth industries and moving forward. It is something for us to consider given our mission here at West Point,” Hajjar explained.

Lt. Col. Tanya Estes, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, presented a capstone project she worked on with four second lieutenants who were from the Class of 2016 and faculty members titled “A Capstone Design Project for Teaching Cybersecurity to Non-technical Users.”

“This two-year capstone project in the EECS department stems from the fact that there is a huge need for cyber security education for non-technical users,” Estes said. “We actually created a curriculum to create virtual machines to use in classrooms with a guide. The machines require Wi-Fi. When students use this system, we help them learn how to use the machine.”

All of the materials are packaged and free to download on the Internet. The education packages help students acquire knowledge on gray, black or white hat hackers.

Black hat hackers are people who try to steal your information, gray hats just might want to show you that certain vulnerabilities exist and white hats are hired specifically to find weaknesses.

“We had great feedback and great results by bringing together the download of the package and the curriculum,” Estes said.

Dr. Kenneth McDonald, engineering management director in the Department of Systems Engineering, spoke on his topic “Food Security Network Modeling.” The work was initiated by the Nuclear Science and Engineering Research Center.

“The research essentially was to develop a model to assess national food security networks and apply system dynamics to these networks to show causal relationships,” McDonald said. “Food security relies on food availability, stability and easy access.”

McDonald said the three areas of concern are mega cities where population is more than 10 million, rapid increase of human population and global warming will have an impact on food.

“The World baseline, according to the United Nations, is we have 793 million people in the world that are undernourished,” McDonald said. “We look at disruptions or things that are occurring throughout the world like fast moving airborne pathogens that can kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And the Army Chief of Staff and their special interest topic want to exam the Army’s capability at food operation in a post nuclear time. We see the disruptions, either natural or manmade that lead to high density areas, which leads to food insecurity, which leads to malnutrition, which leads to disease and reduces health security and national security.”

Dr. Robert Person, assistant professor in the Social Sciences Department, talked about his work “Balance of Threat: The domestic insecurity of Vladimir Putin.”

“The conventional wisdom is that we all know that Russia has become much more authoritarian under Putin since he first took power,” Person said. “Most see Putin as a power hungry autocrat and seeks power for powers sake. The argument that I put forth is that Putin is not a power maximizer for his own sake, he doesn’t lust after more power but in fact he is a security maximizer who reacts primarily defensively to threats. It’s the reaction to these threats that click the ratchet tighter and tighter to autocrat rule. Key players in Russian politics are those that have the capability to act offensively or defensively against Putin. Many may have the resources but remain loyal and some are against the regime, but don’t have the resources to act.”

Person believes the key players in Russia are the economic elite, the Russian oligarch. Some have played by the rules and kept their resources while some have not played by the rules and who also have resources, but are now in prison, living in exile or six feet under.

“West Point is one of the Nation’s best academic institutions. Events such as these highlight the work of the top-tier faculty who are charged with the education of cadets both in and out of the classroom,” Maj. Emily Spencer, executive officer to the Dean, said. “The passion of each presenter within their discipline demonstrates the passion they bring to the classroom and to the cadets.”

The next celebration of authors will occur this fall and will include publications from January 2017 through June 2017.