CIB officers present research at US Strategic Command conference

CIB STRATCOMCIB Latin America analyst and executive officer Joseph Cain, along with former CIB executive officers Eric Winter and Hannah “Belle” Griggs, traveled to the University of Nebraska in March to participate in the annual conference of the Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance (DAAA). Cain and Winter presented papers at the event, which was sponsored by the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), one of the Department of Defense’s ten unified commands.

Chris Ferrero

Chris Ferrero

The CCU delegation to the conference was led by Dr. Christopher Ferrero, Assistant Professor in the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University. Professor Ferrero (pictured right) works on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation and arms control monitoring and verification, among other areas. For over a year, Dr. Ferrero has been building  bridges between CCU and DAAA, which was founded by STRATCOM to promote the study of strategic deterrence while drawing upon the knowledge base of academia. In February, CCU and Dr. Ferrero hosted Rear Admiral Ryan Scholl, STRATCOM’s deputy director of Plans and Policy. A major reason for Admiral Scholl’s visit was to promote the academic alliance between CCU and STRATCOM. Coastal is now one of a select few schools in the southeastern United States with this affiliation, joining Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Western Carolina. Other member institutions include Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Harvard.

Cain (pictured above, second third from right), who serves as the CIB’s Quality Assurance Officer and is head of the Latin America Desk, presented a paper entitled “A Proactive Approach to the US Gray Zone Threat: The Dirty Bomb”. The paper focused on proactive policy options to counter the potential threat of radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) to the United States through gray zone methods. Cain explains that “RDDs are weapons of mass disruption that disperse radioactive isotopes upon detonation. They are known colloquially as dirty bombs. Gray zone methods are practiced by both state and non-state adversaries, who utilize unconventional strategy in order to achieve strategic political objectives”. In his presentation, Cain focused on violent extremist organizations, organized crime syndicates, and state actors that could potentially purchase, steal, traffic, develop, or utilize RDDs “in a manner consistent with gray zone methods”, he said. Winter, who served as the CIB’s Records Officer in the 2017-2018 academic year, presented a paper entitled “Technology and Deterrence: How China’s Ascendant Technology Sector Impacts the Perception of US Strategic Power”.

Speaking about the conference, Dr. Ferrero said that both Eric and Joseph did “terrific. I may be biased, but I think they were the best presenters on their respective panels”. Cain’s panel was moderated by Admiral Scholl, while Winter’s panel moderator “plans to nominate him to be one of a select few undergraduate conference presenters to share his work at STRATCOM’s summer symposium”, noted Dr. Ferrero. The audience for that event will be about 700 people and will include the Commander of STRATCOM.

When asked to offer advice to other CIB members who wish to engage in research, Cain said that, at the beginning, they must rely on asking their professors “as many questions as possible and refine your research topic to a workable form”. This will provide “a solid foundation” that will be “key to your overall project”, he added. “It will allow you to focus your research more effectively in a way that will allow you to present your work as well as meet knowledgeable people in our field”, said Cain.