“I knew that the goal of Task Force was to analyze an issue in the field and provide recommendations to a person in the field, but I had no idea that it would take the form of 15 UW students taking center stage providing important recommendations to the world’s preeminent military alliance,” said Lucas Cox, an international studies senior, of his winter quarter 2022 undergraduate capstone course in Jackson School’s The Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program.
Cox and his fellow students in their Task Force on NATO and emerging technology, guided by their Jackson School Task Force faculty adviser Sarah Lohmann, also a Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College, had the opportunity to participate in NATO’s Centre of Excellence Defense Against Terrorism conference, held in Ankara, Turkey, on January 26-27, 2022 in hybrid format.
The contribution? Writing the first chapter for a NATO Center of Excellence in the Defense Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) book titled, “Countering Terrorism on Tomorrow’s Battlefield: Critical Infrastructure, Security and Resiliency NATO COE-DAT Handbook 2.” It also involved Cox giving the introductory remarks at the conference online in front of prestigious members of the foreign policy world, including academics and military leaders from eight countries.
Communicating research for the public good
The opportunity arose when Cox helped communicate the student Task Force research findings to Lohmann, U.S. Army War College Director of Strategic Studies Institute and USAWC Press Carol Evans and the NATO Center of Excellence in Ankara. Evans was so impressed, that she and COE-DAT invited Cox and the Task Force to give opening remarks at the Turkey conference. He was later invited back as part of a panel to present the research of the book with Lohmann and the other co-authors in person in Ankara in October 2022 at the Terrorism Experts Seminar.
The student research focused on the importance of protecting critical infrastructure in an emerging threat environment and suggestions to strengthen NATO’s posture on Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and hypersonic and autonomous technologies.
“The first couple weeks before the Ankara conference, none of us slept much as we worked as a team to get the material that was needed for government officials in a short amount of time,” said Lohmann, editor and contributing author for the Handbook. “But it was wonderful to see them rewarded for their intense effort, and for the students to have that personal interaction and positive feedback from senior policy makers.”
The Task Force students’ chapter was published in “Countering Terrorism on Tomorrow’s Battlefield” in December 2022 in cooperation with the NATO Center of Excellence Defense Against Terrorism and the U.S. Army War College. Their contribution appears alongside chapters written by foreign policy, critical infrastructure, cyber and defense experts from across NATO member states.
“It’s been really cool. It’s something I never thought I would get to do – speaking with people so high up in the field, and really being trusted with this big deal, which is a whole chapter or two in this published handbook. It’s a credit to our professor she would trust us like that,” Cox said.
Cox has had the opportunity to see the book to its completion, as he joined the US Army War College internship program for the spring and summer. In that role he also served as research assistant intern for “What Ukraine Taught NATO about Hybrid Warfare” (Strategic Studies Institute/US Army War College Press, November 2022), by Lohmann, editor and lead author.