Speaker: Nandakumar, G. (USSOCOM Donovan Group)
Date: 17 April 2019
SMA hosted a speaker session presented by Mr. Girish Nandakumar (USSOCOM Donovan Group) as a part of its SMA General Speaker Series. Mr. Nandakumar framed his discussion of cryptocurriences in the context of the four pillars of the National Security Strategy (NSS). In the first pillar, “Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life,” Mr. Nandakumar discussed the current and future threat of terrorists and transnational criminal networks to take advantage of cryptocurriences to fund operations. While crypto is not used widely now, it could be utilized when terrorists lose physical ground and retreat into cyberspace. In the second pillar, “Promote American Prosperity,” we see cryptocurriences as opportunities to promote prosperity, particularly energy. Some companies (and states and countries) are seeing value in cryptocurriences and are adopting them at a faster rate. Focusing on energy, Mr. Nandakumar discussed the future of energy and how it intersects with currency and geopolitics. He also explained that we will see more decentralized mechanisms that will use blockchain-based technology that enables distribution within a smaller scale. In the third pillar, “Preserve Peace through Strength,” he stated that Bitcoin and other cryptocurriences are underutilized as a tool of diplomacy and American economic statecraft. Related also to the fourth pillar, “Advance American Influence,” the US dollar hegemony is a key aspect of US power, and this is being shaken as some counties shift to cryptocurrencies instead of the US dollar. Furthermore, he discussed cryptocurriences in the context of hybrid warfare, while making connections to economic warfare, cyberattacks, support of local unrest, diplomacy, and information warfare.
To conclude, Mr. Nandakumar examined Russian and Chinese actions at a larger scale. Russia and China are bankrolling and providing technical support to navigate around sanctions. China is also investing in Latin America, from building dams and nuclear power plants in Argentina to lending money to Venezuela in exchange for oil. Looking to future, we could see that Russia and/or China could overmatch America and that VEOs could leverage blockchain-based virtual nations. He then promoted the need for more research and development (R&D), a comprehensive strategic that includes economic and military/security concern, and the need for an operational sandbox.
To access a recording of this session, please email Ms. Nicole Omundson (firstname.lastname@example.org).