The Department of Defense is taking on hobbyists around the country to create commercially offered technology into something of a weapon intending that it will assist them to protect members of the U.S. Military.
In a variety of ways, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) is the engine of the military-industrial complex, the heart at the center of the Pentagon that keeps America in constant state of weapons innovation and defense spending. Even before the attacks of September 11, 2001, DARPA kept defense contractors lining their pockets; in a post 9/11 surveillance state, DARPA sits at the nexus of corporate war profits, national security, and military innovation.
Cloaked in clandestine secrecy, DARPA has been labeled the “Oh God Why” branch of the Department of Defense. In the fiscal year of 2015, their requested budget was $2.91 billion, which doesn’t involve classified and black budgets. Even still, through Freedom of Information Act requests and intrepid journalism, some of the historical truths and future programs of this nebulous government agency have come to light in recent years.
DARPA perceives out of the box
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is called on by the Department of Defense when out-of-the-box thinking is needed. While DARPA does good work on its own, the Agency is intending that by calling on hobbyists to weaponize household object it will get concepts that it had overlooked.
“Use of components, products, and systems from non-military technical specialties (e.g., transportation, construction, maritime, and communications) is of particular interest,” based on a DARPA article explaining what it needs from U.S. citizens. It’s hoped that a number of folks will supply suggestions that could potentially be utilized by less traditional forces (terrorists) against U.S. forces and our allies. Now obviously, DARPA doesn’t want a bunch of new weapons being developed but concepts that others have that the agency may have overlooked.
While the United States military continues to be one of the strongest in the world, it’s struggled with “over the counter” technologies being utilized against it. IEDs and roadside bombs developed by enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan worked with devastating consequence and triggered the majority of casualties in both conflicts. A pressure cooker bomb was put together by two “kids” so as to attack the Boston Marathon. Cell phone detonators, cheap drones being weaponized and other fairly rudimentary devices could possibly be utilized against the military and DARPA wants your help.
There is no longer any lining up against your adversary at a predetermined battlefield
“For decades, U.S. national security was ensured in large part by a simple advantage: a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies,” DARPA stated in launching Project Improv in a press release.
While DARPA is wanting for ideas, its lawyers plainly instructed the agency to inform potential biologists, coders, and others to develop concepts that work “within the bounds of local, state, and federal laws and regulations.” While that’s anticipated in a litigious society, it’s also easier said than done.
DARPA wishes individuals and companies to submit concepts and permit DARPA to give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Concepts that DARPA likes will move forward from here and offer $40,000 per submission once in the contest part of the competition. Submissions that make this cut will see the cash but also a two-week deadline to develop a prototype with the potential for those going forward to get an additional $70,000.
If after that, DARPA feels the prototype works and sends it forward for evaluations, those selected will receive another $20,000 and likely a non-disclosure agreement to sign.
The agency (founded as ARPA) was designed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 as a direct result of the Soviet launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957. The agency is based in Arlington, Virginia and has just under 250 employees working with a budget of around $3 billion. The agency is, needless to say, closely tied to the military but operates independently of the Armed Forces and answers directly to the Department of Defense management.
While DARPA’s early life mostly concentrated on the Soviet nuclear and space threat, there is little that the group won’t work at which includes staring at Goats in an effort to make them explode. The group has achieved a number of military and non-military technologies over its nearly 60 year history.