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This week we’re talking about the P-word. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Of all the buzzwords and acronyms the military spiels, there is one word that has become an obsession: priority.
The word ‘priority' dates to the 14th century, with origins in French (“state of being earlier”) and Latin (“precedence in right or rank”).
But something weird happened during World War I—its meaning changed. What it morphed into is how we use it today: to denote a fact or condition of coming first in importance or requiring immediate attention.
But that’s not all. During World War II, a grammatical mutation occurred that made it plural—‘priorities.’ What was “this before all else” had spun off “these before all else.”
The use of ‘priority’ and ‘priorities’ exploded during the Vietnam War and remained in society’s parlance until the end of the Cold War. The military didn’t get that memo though and has doubled down on its use ever since.
OBTW: Leave it to the Pentagon to militarize a word by turning a noun into a verb. The word ‘prioritize’ was first used in government circles in the late 1960s, but steadily grew into use when it was used in the 1972 presidential election.
At the same time, someone felt the need to create a noun to describe this new verb, hence ‘prioritization’ was also born.
The Department of Defense has become a magician at using adjectives and discriminators to create the illusion that everything can be a priority when it is literally the opposite of the meaning of the word. Let’s pick on 2017 to illustrate.
In early 2017, having sufficient flying hours to defeat ISIS overseas was a priority; the F-35A fighter, KC-46 tanker, and B-21 acquisitions programs were the top priorities, and space remained a high priority—all in the same document.
Stating ‘priorities’ has been ruined by the etymological whoring of the word.
Instead, it would be more useful (and entertaining) to do the opposite: Ask someone what are the least important things, programs, or issues? What should you stop doing, and why?
The answers might surprise you.
In That Number
The 17 countries: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.
The $1.16 billion (€1 billion) emerging tech accelerator fund will be run by a venture capitalist, which has yet to be named.
Trivia: The term ‘flak’ was coined in WWII to describe Germany's anti-aircraft armament. It was derived as short-hand from which of the German words that translates to "pilot defense gun”?
Commercial Takeaway from the COP26: Tracking human-made greenhouse gas emissions from space is apparently a thing now. European Space Agency is planning on developing a satellite constellation that will detect and track earth-based carbon dioxide and methane emissions in near real-time. If you think that’s far-fetched, brace yourselves: This week, environmental monitoring company GHGSat revealed the world’s first space detection of methane emissions leaking from a mine in Kazakhstan. If they could detect carbon monoxide all those pesky mobile SAMs would be easier to find. Lockheed Martin and Verizon have partnered to scale 5G.mil for the DoD. Buried in the press release is equally interesting news: Verizon used a private 5G network installed at a Lockheed facility to connect to Lockheed’s tactical open mission system tactical gateway. They were able to transmit Link-16 standard messages to 5G user devices. The Space Force launched ‘Orbital Prime’ program to spur the market for on-orbit services. Some might question the need for a “prime the pump” program in the space sector, which has seen explosive growth with no end in sight. After all, as space becomes increasingly crowded, there is more junk to clean up and more satellites to de-orbit. But, this clean-up space niche hasn’t built a technology or method that is sufficient to build a profitable model around. With launch costs plummeting, it’s time to get creative about clean-up, hence the focus of the SBIR-based Orbital Prime. After months of hype and anticipation, the NRO stunned the explosing commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery industry when it delivered a nothing-burger of a bid. On the heels of this let-down, the NRO is now starting to tease an adjacent market. The NRO just launched a new imagery program called the Electro-Optical Commercial Layer (EOCL). One key thing to keep track of: shutter control.
They Said It
“Although we’re making marginal progress, the DoD is still unbelievably bureaucratic and slow.”
Yep, that checks.
XVIII Airborne Corps: An Army unit headquartered at Fort Bragg and led by a 3-star and known as the Sky Dragons, it is the parent organization for some more familiar-sounding units you’ve probably heard of: the 3rd Infantry Division, the 10th Mountain Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division.
Why it Matters: Their in-house Army Shark Tank-style soldier innovation program dubbed "Dragon's Lair" is now open to U.S. service members across all services and units. The next event is December 6th; the deadline for submissions is November 15th via the Dragon's Lair website.
Steve Blank is a serial entrepreneur turned educator Silicon Valley stalwart, co-creator of Hacking 4 Defense, former member of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board, and is the person who started the Lean Startup movement…which essentially created today’s entrepreneur model.
If you can’t tell, he lives at the intersection of technology, innovation, commercialization, and government bureaucracy. Zoom in here to listen to him discussing a range of friction on these topics on the Burn Bag podcast.
- The Air Force announced that Eielson AFB Alaska will be the first location for a commercially-owned nuclear microreactor
- Northrop Grumman entered into a strategic partnership with Germany-based Mynaric to deploy space laser communications
- The Space Force announced it will award $2.3 billion in commercial SATCOM contracts between 2022 and 2023
- Israel launched a new aerostat with a long-range missile tracking radar that was jointly developed by Israel’s Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA)
- Isotropic Systems announced successful field testing for its flat-panel antenna, a single multi-link terminal that connects to satellites in multiple orbits simultaneously
- The Air Force’s Test Flag Enterprise demoed a 1,500+ mile cross-country datalink kill web
- Gryphon agreed to be acquired by ManTech (both are DoD cyber contractors)
The Army awarded a contract to develop a 300-kilowatt solid-state laser weapon to a joint Boeing-General Atomics team
- Japan received its first KC-46 tanker
- Anduril’s Area-I unveiled the largest Air Launched Effect (ALE) yet, the ALTIUS 700
- The US Air Force announced it will open a scientific research facility in Australia, co-located with that country’s Defence Science and Technology Group
- Redwire, who focused on in-space 3D printing and manufacturing, acquired Techshot, a space biotechnology company [2021 company TTP: just add ‘space’ in front of any tech]
- Astra filed a V-band frequency application with the FCC for a whopping 13,600-satellite broadband internet mega constellation
- Spain announced that it will either select the F-35 or the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace their aging F-18 fleet
- SES, a Singapore-based battery-maker startup, unveiled the first lithium-metal battery big enough to power a car (way lighter and more efficient than lithium-ion)
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A is the safe-word at the Vandersexxx club in the movie Eurotrip
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