Garmisch Germany

I’m in Germany to speak at the Marshall Center tomorrow, and I’m going to be talking about technology and the threats caused by new technologies. I’m talking to the senior executive seminar attendees. The following are some pictures I took for my kids. I’ve got a presentation ready for the participants in the seminar here, and It should be pretty interesting. I usually get pretty high marks for presentations and tomorrow I’ll be doing it without slides or any kind of prepared remarks. If you’re an expert I think you should be able to have a pretty in depth conversation on a topic without a huge amount of supporting materials.

 

Flying into Munich Germany (click to make larger)

The trip from Washington DC to Munich was uneventful. I hate flying, I hate sitting in a tin can for hours on end, and I hate being away from my family. The idea that “I get to” go to Europe and somehow a whirl wind trip is a benefit is kind of stupid. It is a long flight for very few hours on the ground to help people out. A big reason I took the new job at NDU/IRMC was because I wanted to serve my country. Service isn’t always easy and though there are lots of corporate positions I could have taken working for the Department of Defense directly is much better for what I know how to do. I told my wife that I would do this for two or three years and then we’d talk about whether I’d stay. Hopefully she and my kids aren’t to mad about this change especially since I promised them long ago I wouldn’t take another job with extensive travel. Then again we’ll see whether NDU/IRMC wants me to stay and the question may be moot.

BMW Offices Munich (click to make larger)

I know that many people who are serving officers and enlisted in the military have to deal with moves and crazy changes in schedule. Sure, they signed up for that and are committed to that ideal. I’m an old, fat, bald professor so I get to be curmudgeon and tell people to eat my shorts when they try and compare an aging fat guy to some young private first class. I think it is funny I have none of the benefits of military service, all of the expectations, and all of the risks. My fellow employees who are primarily retired military types still think like they’re in the military. I don’t, I’m not, and well I think it is kind of silly. It is however a cultural thing and kind of fun to watch. I’m a civilian. I don’t make the military I make the military better. Unless they’re popping out guys with 30 plus years of telecom experience, AND understanding of cyber as a conflict space, out of the woodwork somewhere I don’t know I’m a rare duck who can quack. As long as what I now is of value I guess they’ll keep me around.

I'm not sure what this is (click to make larger)

One thing I like about the travel is I get to see and interact with people who will operationalize my strategies and techniques. Getting to inform the leadership of most of Europe on threats through technology to their nations is pretty fun stuff. One of my younger friends who still thinks like a hacker wanted to know what kind of elite hacking demonstration I would show. Nothing like that for sure. This is about getting people to understand what is possible and how to mitigate that without having to actually become some kind of elite agent provocateur. People don’t have to become plumbers to know that blocked drain pipes are a bad thing. My job is to explain things to leadership a lot better than the AT&T lobbyists explained the Internet to the late senator who gave us “The Internet is a series of tubes”.

The fact that leadership around the world keeps asking to talk to me in public or private venues is pretty neat. I don’t talk about cyber conflict like other people do. I don’t throw fear uncertainty and doubt unless I tell you up front that I’m going to. I don’t think about “cyber” as a network centric and constrained domain like most technologists have a tendency to and I think about the entirety of the system life cycle as a vector of attack. When most people think of cyber they’re worried about their computer. When we first started talking around the idea of cyber conflict post year 2000 (it was a topic prior but let me explain). When we first started talking about it post 2000 cyber conflict was still information warfare and people were worried about e-commerce. Instead of “i” everything it was “e” everything and we still have hallmarks like e-government. The iPad didn’t exist, and most laptops weighed in around 8 pounds. The desktop was still the primary Internet connected device, and only forward think people like Mathew “my toaster did it” Devost were even considering the ramification of ubiquity and pervasiveness.

All that to say “cyber” has to be much bigger to be valid or we should call it a fad.

You'll find a pretty substantial bike culture in Europe (click to make larger)

 

The fact remains that culture will determine how we consider cyber and technology in general. Culture will determine the advances of technology and the choices we make in how we integrate technology into our societies. We as a world still do not have  a world wide society but we do have rapidly expanding spheres of influence. If I had to say anything to describe Germany it would be diesel powered station wagons going 200kph and superior drivers. The sport sedan in Germany is a station wagon with a turbo diesel. You’d be hard pressed to find station wagons (not SUVs) in America (maybe 1 in 20?) while most of the vehicles I see on the road are station wagons. There are few SUVs and nearly zero personal trucks. Germany is the last place it seems like you can blast along at 200kph (124mph) and it is normal. Then again it doesn’t look so fast when you record it.

So tomorrow I’ll talk with a bunch of people and I hope they like what I have to say. If they don’t like it I at least hope they apreciate it.

2 comments for “Garmisch Germany

  1. September 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    None of the benefits? You get an inordinate amount of leave, a pension when you retire, an even better health plan than TriCare, and you get matching funds into your 401(k)/TSP.

    Sure beats anything I’ve ever experienced in industry…. (Hence my return to civil service three years ago. 🙂

  2. sam
    September 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Yes, but I get about 8 days of leave a year to start that goes to 12 after three years (and they made me take leave for my compensated move they haven’t paid me for). I don’t get a real pension I’m in some kind of strange savings plan. My healthcare costs FIVE times more than it did at my previous employer. And the matching is 1/3rd less than what the previous employer donation to my retirement was before matching. Other than that the benefits are great 🙂

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