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NPS’ Naval Warfare Studies Initiative Launches Emerging Technology Series, Focuses First on 5G Tech

NPS 5G Tech

Leading up to the university’s latest Virtual SGL on 5G technology, NPS’ new Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) launched the Emerging Technology Series for Executives, July 16. The initiative connects senior military leaders, NPS faculty and students, and seasoned industry executives together to explore the implications of emerging technologies on warfighting and key operational problems.

The future Navy and Marine Corps will undoubtedly be built using today’s emerging technologies, therefore, the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) launched the Emerging Technology Series for Executives July 16 to connect senior military leaders, NPS faculty and students and Senior Industry Executives to collaboratively focus on the implications these technologies have on warfighting and key operational problems. Designed to take advantage of NPS’ trusted industry partners, the series aims to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges emerging technologies provide before they are widely available or even widely understood.  

The series is planned to occur quarterly focusing on a different technology each quarter, and the series will conduct three related events each quarter dedicated to understanding the commercial and warfighting implications of that technology.  Each series will begin with an industry leadership brief between military flag officers and senior industry executives focusing on what the technology is and how companies are leveraging it for commercial applications. An NPS Virtual Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture (SGL) will follow featuring a currently serving or retired military leader with deep expertise in the technology. The series will then culminate each quarter in an executive roundtable where the leaders will discuss the implications the technology has on warfighting and how the Navy and Marine Corps might take advantage.

“Emerging technologies emerge at the same time for everyone, regardless of rank,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Randy Pugh, NWSI Deputy Director and NPS 5G Coordination Group Director. “NPS recognizes we need to support our officers of all ranks – the Ensigns and Second Lieutenants to the Admirals and Generals – for these are the men and women who envision not just the next Navy and Marine Corps, but the Navy and Marine Corps after next. To do this, the Navy and Marine Corps need to stay on the commercial curve, and you do this by building trusted relationships and working collaboratively with commercial company partners.

“This Emerging Technology series will help us understand and leverage breakthrough technologies to stay ahead.”

As a key member of NWSI, Pugh took the lead for organizing the series’ first iteration – 5G technology. 

The 5G series began when NPS hosted an online industry brief July 16 between senior executives from Qualcomm, senior military officers and NPS researchers to discuss 5G technology and its current commercial applications. Subsequently, prominent military cyber warriors retired U.S. Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander and retired U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Jan E. Tighe, two pillars of the DoD Cyber community and now cyber leaders in business, participated in a Virtual SGL answering questions from NPS students on the operational implications of 5G technology. A round table discussion between them and NPS leadership immediately followed.

“The blinding pace of 5G technology and the associated application development is being completely driven by business and commercial wireless companies,” said Pugh. “Unlike the evolution from 3G to 4G, 5G promises revolutionary change. The ability to have exponentially more devices on the network, the ability to move exponentially more data, the exponentially more precise delivery of that data, and other features of 5G make things that were previously impossible suddenly possible.

“Qualcomm is a universally-recognized leader in 5G,” continued Pugh. “They have a breadth and depth of technical expertise that, combined with the operational and tactical expertise of NPS’ faculty and students, means we are literally the first in the world to learn about new technologies, and then first in the world to integrate it into our naval warfighting concepts and capabilities.”

Commercial companies have provided most of today’s research and funding to reach those possibilities with 5G. By sharing their knowledge pool and resources, NPS and Qualcomm can possibly overcome current challenges of 5G development.

“For us at Qualcomm, fundamental research is a huge portion of what needs to be done,” said Mark Koro, Qualcomm’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “Because without research, you cannot go to a standards body and present viable information that could become part of these global international standards.  For Qualcomm, we really try to educate folks on where the technology has to go, so the core technology development is really where we at Qualcomm are focused on.” 

Pugh noted that while 5G’s potential can shape the future of warfighting, there are other technologies that have that potential as well and NPS can play a part in shaping those technologies rather than having to help catch up to them.

“In just a few years we will see self-driving cars, drone delivery service, augmented reality in our eyeglasses, and every device in our house connected into a massive internet of things – all communicating and anticipating our next move,” said Pugh. “This is the reason for the Emerging Technology Series, so the Navy and Marine Corps can leverage industry, where the majority of technological breakthroughs are made, to building trusted relationships and working collaboratively to solve our key operational problems.

“Now imagine these innovations on the battlefield and what our warfighters could do with them,” continued Pugh.  “Now imagine if our adversaries figure it out first. NPS’ unique mission within the Department of the Navy makes it a sensible place to teach officers about emerging technologies, and to research, experiment and wargame with them so we figure it our first.”


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