Missile Defense!


Most national security and military experts agree that the threat of ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction represents the primary existential threat to the United States. But few realize it is the U.S. Navy that is doing the heavy lifting to protect the homeland and our forces forward from this threat.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States provided a dramatic warning that even the “world’s hegemon,” as America was called by some, was not invulnerable to threats against the homeland. As Americans, their elected officials, and the intelligence and military communities evaluated 21st century threats, the assessment was clear. Absent terrorists operating on American soil, the one existential threat to the nation was the rapidly growing number of states and other actors who already possessed – or were developing – chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and who also possessed, or were developing, ballistic missiles to carry these weapons great distances. In the decade-plus since those 9/11 attacks, rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea have, in fact, developed and in some cases launched ballistic missiles, often designed to intimidate their neighbors.

One of the early – and compelling – calls for a prominent Navy role in dealing with the ballistic missile threat came over a decade ago in a little-noticed report issued by the U.S. National Defense University. Published in their occasional series Defense Horizons, and written by Hans Binnendijk and George Stewart, the report broke important new ground. Provocatively titled Toward Missile Defenses from the Sea, the study’s authors were prescient in envisioning the role Aegis BMD is playing today. Their report noted, in part:

During the past several years, national intelligence estimates have indicated a growing missile threat from North Korea, Iran, and Iraq that will continue to increase throughout this decade… Developments of the past 18 months have created new possibilities for seabasing of national defenses against intercontinental ballistic missiles… Using missile interceptors based at sea to defend the United States against ICBMs offers several advantages, the most important of which are flexibility and control. The most cost-effective option for a potential seaborne deployment is the use of upgraded Aegis radars and modified SM-3 missiles for boost-phase intercepts onboard existing combat ships stationed near the Korean Peninsula and the eastern Mediterranean. In addition to providing a layer of boost-phase defense, ships at these locations would provide radar coverage early in the flight of an ICBM – a valuable asset to the midcourse defense layer.

Read more about the United States journey to provide world-class missile defense in my series of articles on missile defense on the Defense Media Network’s website here.

Contemplation Therapy


We’ll all heard that mindfulness medication is all the rage. But where’s the science? Is there any science?

The benefits of mindfulness meditation, increasingly popular in recent years, are supposed to be many: reduced stress and risk for various diseases, improved well-being, a rewired brain. But the experimental bases to support these claims have been few. Supporters of the practice have relied on very small samples of unrepresentative subjects, like isolated Buddhist monks who spend hours meditating every day, or on studies that generally were not randomized and did not include placebo­ control groups.

Now, a study published in Biological Psychiatry brings scientific thoroughness to mindfulness meditation and for the first time shows that, unlike a placebo, it can change the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health.

To meditate mindfully demands ‘‘an open and receptive, nonjudgmental awareness of your present-moment experience,’’ says J. David Creswell, who led the study and is an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.

Read this article here



Act Like a Writer


What do actors know about writing? Actually, a great deal! Some time ago, actress Molly Ringwald connected the dots for the rest of us in her article: “Act Like a Writer.” It was an “ah ha” moment for me. Here is part of what she said:

I think there is a natural curiosity that many people have when they hear about an actor writing fiction. While it’s not exactly comparable to proving a mathematical theorem, it does seem an unusual endeavor to some. For me, however, what is surprising is that more actors don’t do it, as writing fiction draws on many of the same skills that, as an actor, I have been practicing my entire life.

The appeal of diving into a character has always been the back story: everything that my character has been through up to the point when the audience first encounters her. I have eagerly invented intricate histories that I shared with no one — except during an occasional late night boozy discussion with other like-minded and obsessive actors.

Ultimately, I believe that the true collaboration involves the audience, or in the case of the novelist, the reader. These are the people who truly make the characters live. When the metaphorical curtain went up on my own book, I sat in the audience, alternately anxious and elated, waiting to see how these actors transformed my words through their own personal experiences.

Read more of this article here:


Life Imitates Art

Scorched Earth_Cover

Released just a month ago, the third book in our re-booted Op-Center series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth continues to receive positive reviews. Here is what the Defense Media Network had to say:

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth is the third book of the rebooted franchise.”

“Although Galdorisi went solo in writing Scorched Earth, it contains all of the gripping action that distinguished the previous two books. In Scorched Earth, a fictional ISIS leader vows a personal revenge against an American admiral after a U.S. Navy airstrike results in the death of his only son. He orders ISIS sympathizers on American soil to kidnap the admiral and transport him to Mosul for an execution to be carried out live on television. Meanwhile, losing patience when the investigation and budding rescue seem to grind on, the admiral’s son, a Navy SEAL, goes on a one-man mission to rescue his father.”

“There is no doubt concerning the antagonists’ – the terrorists’ – murderous plans. The only questions revolve around the details of those plans and how quickly they can be carried out. Will the terrorists have the time to carry out their plans? Will the Op-Center team and its allies be able to win their race against the clock? Galdorisi artfully weaves a narrative that maintains suspense through to the final pages.”

“As usual in this series, beginning with Out of the Ashes and continuing with Into the Fire, Scorched Earth contains a potent mix of conventional military operations, from Navy airstrikes and special operations forces raids on terrorist bases, to operations in the United States by Op-Center’s own domestic strike force (a fictional component of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group Hostage Rescue Team). Underlying and informing the kinetic actions of these forces are the investigations undertaken by the organization’s “Geek Tank” on desktops and online.”

“The late Tom Clancy has been called the father of the techno-thriller, but he is perhaps best known for books like The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising, that centered on a different, bi-polar world – a Cold War world. The original Op-Center series, created with Steve Pieczenik, was a nod toward a new world order. Scorched Earth is a satisfying and entertaining read and a worthy addition to the revived series, adding more members to the cast of characters – including, I was pleased to see, an Adm. Oldham – and giving more insight into a world of hybrid warfare not so far removed from our own.”

If you want to see how life imitates art, read more about our New York Times best-selling Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series and our just-released Scorched Earth here:


Four Scenarios – Stalled Engines


One of the favorite subjects during this year’s political debates has the future. You’ve likely heard any number of pundits holding forth on what the future will hold. There are some that hit and some that miss. There’s a cottage industry of “punditry” on the subject.

We all want to know what the future holds, both for our personal lives, as well as the broader issue of what the world will be like years hence. For most of us in the latter business, we go to the National Intelligence Council – the NIC. It harnesses the collective wisdom of the Nation’s sixteen intelligence agencies to deep dive into what our future world will look like – and especially, the impact this future world will have on those of us living in the United States.

This collective wisdom is captured in their report, Global Trends 2030. In a sentence, there is no more comprehensive analysis of future trends available anywhere, at any price. It’s not an overstatement to say this 160-page document represents the definitive look at the future.

The beauty – and utility – of this report is that it doesn’t a point solution and state, unequivocally, “the world will look like this.” Instead it offers us four potential scenarios. Over the next several weeks I’ll share them with you. Today, let’s talk about Stalled Engines.

Stalled Engines is the most plausible worst-case scenario presented in the GT2030 study and, in a sentence, is one in which “all boats sink.” However, this all-too-brief description doesn’t tell us enough about the details of this alternative worlds scenario, and we need to peel the onion a bit more to understand its potential implications more fully.

Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds leads with the Stalled Engines alternative world – a scenario in which the United States and Europe turn inward and globalization stalls – as one of its “bookends,” illustrating the most plausible worst-case scenario. Arguably, darker scenarios are imaginable, including a complete breakdown and reversal of globalization due to a potential large-scale conflict on the order of World War I or World War II, but such an outcome does not seem probable.

Stalled Engines is nevertheless a bleak future. The National Intelligence Council’s modeling and analysis suggests that under this scenario total global income would be $27 trillion less than under Fusion, the NIC’s most optimistic scenario. This amount is more than the combined economies of the United States and Eurozone today. In a Stalled Engines world, the United States and Europe are no longer capable, nor interested, in sustaining global leadership. In this dark scenario, the United States’ political system fails to address its fiscal challenges and consequently economic policy and performance drift.

And there is much more!

Read the entire article here on the Defense Media Network website and consider what our world may look like in the future – especially if “Stalled Engines” prevails.


The Job You Love!


Full disclosure – I enjoy working. What’s more, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had. And the more I read, the more I realize how lucky I’ve been.

A recent New York Times article spoke to me – and I think you too will find it meaningful. The title, “The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love,” deconstructs this subject in a way that makes sense to me. Here is part of what Frank Hunter shares with the rest of us:

“Social scientists have been trying to identify the conditions most likely to promote satisfying human lives. Their findings give some important clues about choosing a career: Money matters, but not always in the ways you may think.”

“It’s not just that more money doesn’t provide a straightforward increase in happiness. Social science research also underscores the importance of focusing carefully on the many ways in which jobs differ along dimensions other than pay. As economists have long known, jobs that offer more attractive working conditions — greater autonomy, for example, or better opportunities for learning, or enhanced workplace safety — also tend to pay less.”

When most people leave work each evening, they feel better if they have made the world better in some way, or at least haven’t made it worse.”

How’s that working for you?

You can read the full article here


The Writer in the Family

Writing Techniques

Most writers have families, and these close relations embrace their lifestyle. Or do they. Well-known author Roger Rosenblatt suggests that most authors get treated like weirdoes in their own homes – and that they have only themselves to blame. Here is part of what he said in his humorous article:

So there I stood at the front of my granddaughter Jessica’s fourth-grade classroom, still as a glazed dog, while Jessie introduced me to her classmates, to whom I was about to speak. “This is my grandfather, Boppo,” she said, invoking my grandpaternal nickname. “He lives in the basement and does nothing.”

Her description, if terse, was not inaccurate. My wife and I do live on the lower level of our son-in-law’s house with him and our three grandchildren. And, as far as anyone in the family can see, I do nothing, or next to it. This is the lot of the writer. You will hear someone referred to as “the writer in the family” — usually a quiet child who dresses strangely and shows inclinations to do nothing in the future. But when a supposedly grown-up writer is a member of the family, who knows what to make of him? A friend of my son-in-law’s asked me the other day, “You still writing?” — as if the profession were a new sport I’d picked up, like curling, or a disease I was trying to get rid of. Alexander Pope: “This long disease, my life.”

Writers cannot fairly object to being seen in this way. Since, in the nothing we do — the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is” (Wallace Stevens) — we do not live in the real world, or wish to, it is fruitless and dishonest to protest that we do. When family members introduce us to one of their friends, it is always with bewilderment camouflaged by hyperbole. “This is so-and-so,” they will say, too heartily. “He’s a great and esteemed writer.” To which their friend will reply, “Would I have read anything you’ve written?” To which I reply, “How should I know?”

At home, they will treat us like domesticated, dangerous animals, pet pandas or snow leopards, patting and feeding us, while eyeing our teeth. Or they will make touching attempts to associate us with comprehensible pursuits, such as commerce. When he was 3, my 5-year-old grandson, James, proposed that the two of us go into business together. “We will write things and we will sell things,” he said, thereby yoking two enterprises that are rarely yoked.

Read the entire article here.

The Caliphate

Scorched Earth_Cover

The Islamic State wants to establish a caliphate. It’s that simple. That’s why we picked ISIS – or ISIL as the United States refers to this threat, as the focus of our newest Op-Center book. ISIL poses such a multi-faceted threat that it is sometimes difficult to get our arms around the scope of this scourge.

As part of our extensive research for the book, we uncovered a wealth of great material, and some thoughtful pieces bubbled right to the top. We wanted to share some of those with you.

One of the best-of-the-best was a short piece in National Defense University’s Defense Horizons. The title, “A Time to Tweet, as Well as a Time to Kill: ISIS’s Projection of Power in Iraq and Syria,” all-but says it all. But here’s more:

ISIS and its caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have learned lessons from past insurgents and leaders. In the implementation of its campaign, the group has used strategic tools to project military, economic, political, and informational power to the local, regional, and global community. From exploiting the sectarian divide to gain support, to manipulating political and social media to inflate its appearance of strength, to recruiting disaffected Sunnis and Muslim youth of the world through social media, ISIS has proved to be a new class of insurgency.

ISIS, however, has projected the most power and shown the most innovation with technology and media. It demonstrates a masterful understanding of effective propaganda and social media use, producing a multidimensional global campaign across multiple platforms. ISIS has used these platforms to exhibit intimidation, networking, recruitment, justice, and justification. It continues to spread its anti-Western, pro-jihadi messages to vulnerable populations using viral videos made to look like video games. Yet its skill is best displayed on Twitter where it has garnered tens of thousands of followers across dozens of accounts, eliciting feedback from average supporters.

Read more of this outstanding report here.

If you want to see how life imitates art, read more about our New York Times best-selling Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series and our just-released Scorched Earth here.

Missile Defense!


It’s easy to look back from the perspective of 2016, with scores of Aegis cruisers and destroyers populating the U.S. Navy’s fleet – and with Aegis ships now serving as the Navy’s primary surface combatant – and think that the journey toward building an Aegis fleet was simple or straightforward. It was not. A full description of that journey is vastly beyond the scope of this post. But for those readers wanting more, the 2009 Naval Engineer’s Journal, “The Story of Aegis: Special Edition” contains a rich and detailed description of the Aegis program – how it came into being, where it is today, and where it is going in the future.

As Adm. John Harvey, former Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, explained, what made the original Aegis program so successful was “a single-minded dedication to the pursuit of technical excellence.” That commitment to excellence permeated the Aegis community even before the first ship of the class, the cruiser Ticonderoga (CG 47), was commissioned in January 1983. It likewise remains embedded in Aegis today.

The heart of Aegis – and the U.S. Navy’s fleet air defense capabilities – is the Aegis Weapons System. Consisting of the AN/SPY-1 phased-array radar, the Mk 99 fire-control system, the Weapon Control System, the Command and Decision suite, and Standard missiles, Aegis can simultaneously detect and track hundreds of threats and friendly/neutral aircraft and engage multiple targets simultaneously. When combined with the MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), the AN/SQQ-89 underwater combat system, command-and-control, and self-defense weapons and systems, the weapons system acts as the central component of the broader Aegis Combat System.

Read more about the United States journey to provide world-class missile defense in my series of articles on missile defense on the Defense Media Network’s website here

Follow Your Bliss?


We all want to be happy. And if you watched any of the news coverage of last month’s college graduations you heard a number of prominent people encouraging graduates to follow their bliss. Really? Is this good advice for people who are stepping into adulthood and into the real world? I read a great article in the New York Times where Jennifer Kahn says NO!

Here is part of what she said in her article, “The Happiness Code:”

Most self-help appeals to us because it promises real change without much real effort, a sort of fad diet for the psyche. (‘‘The Four-Hour Workweek,’’ ‘‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.’’) By the magical-thinking standards of the industry, then, the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) focus on science and on tiresome levels of practice can seem almost radical. It has also generated a rare level of interest among data-driven tech people and entrepreneurs who see personal development as just another optimization problem, if a uniquely central one.

Yet, while CFAR’s methods are unusual, its aspirational promise — that a better version of ourselves is within reach — is distinctly familiar. The center may emphasize the benefits that will come to those who master the techniques of rational thought, like improved motivation and a more organized inbox, but it also suggests that the real reward will be far greater, enabling users to be more intellectually dynamic and nimble. Or as Smith put it, ‘‘We’re trying to invent parkour for the mind.’’

Read more of this killer-good article here