By Major Matt Cavanaugh
Several weeks ago I noticed that the Atlantic Council was running a competition via their “Art of Future Warfare” Project. Their idea is to “use ‘war-art’ challenges to showcase the value of creative thinking in the national security realm and gain insight into the future of warfare.” Specifically, the competition prompt was to write “journalistic written accounts akin to a front-page news story describing the outbreak of a future great-power conflict.”
I submitted a roughly 2,000 word essay that, naturally, didn’t win (let’s face it, I wear the same clothes daily and get my hair cut the same all the time – I’m at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to creativity!). But I did do well enough to “place” – in this case – the essay is currently featured prominently on the Art of Future Warfare website.
What follows is a selection of my fictitious news story; again, the rest can be found here.
“Fear paralyzes Pacific as Army major awaits hearing”
The New York Times, pages A1, A3
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
By Jeffrey Gettleman
With reporting by Kyle Somerset in Sydney, Stephen Kearney in Wellington, Nellie Sibbitts in Singapore, and Jack Shapiro in Boston.
Even with Global Gabriel, Army Maj. Morgan Maltz could not have foreseen this.
Maltz is currently in military custody, awaiting his second appearance before a military judge, following Saturday night’s Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on his home in Crystal City, Virginia. He is likely unaware that his alleged treason and espionage has put the Pacific region on pause; millions of Hawaiians, Australians, New Zealanders and other islanders have been forced into protective measures unseen in over eighty years. Sources within the Pentagon have confirmed that Maltz faces charges for passing unprecedented amounts of top-secret data to either the Chinese or Israeli government, from Global Gabriel, an advanced artificial intelligence software program and military strategic decision-making tool. Though the leak appears to have taken place over several months, it is believed that some of the information obtained the Global Gabriel data theft is connected to Thursday’s alleged Chinese attack on the Defense Department’s Global Information Grid near Guam. After this attack and other recent hostile remarks between the Chinese and US governments, US military forces in the Pacific, commanded by Gen. Robin Melvin, are on their highest alert. A Pentagon official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, has confirmed that the US is considering continuous combat air patrols for Pacific Air Forces based on Guam for the duration of the crisis. Multiple sources, including Xinhua-Al Jazeera, are reporting the Chinese Second Artillery Corps stands on full alert with missiles capable of accurately ranging the entire Pacific. This has paralyzed the Pacific since it was first reported on Saturday; the region is putting life on hold. Schools are cancelled in Honolulu; Canberra and other major cities in Australia are rehearsing air raid-style drills for the first time since 1942. John Brumby, long time President of the Australia China Business Council in Sydney is “more worried than Hong Kong 2016.” The government of New Zealand has even created a public service video on “what to do in the event of a missile strike” and declared a temporary suspension of the Wellington earthquake cleanup and capitol relocation to Auckland.
“Quiet, but not a loner”
Little is known about Maj. Morgan Maltz. His sister, reached for comment, said, “I can’t believe that my brother could have done this,” and “the rush to call him a loner and traitor is just wrong. He may be quiet, but not weird and certainly not a traitor.” Maltz is a 2005 gradate of West Point and played tight end on the football team. He fought as a field artillery officer in the 2007 “Surge” in Iraq, and twice in Afghanistan which public records indicate earned him three Bronze Stars in all. He changed his job in the Army in 2012 to become a “Strategist,” which is a senior staff officer. An article in the Fayetteville Observer in October 2016 briefly records an alcohol-related car crash near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Maltz’s Facebook page records that he was passed over for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in 2021 and that he is divorced. Despite these career and personal setbacks, Maj. Maltz changed his Army job in June 2022 to the newly formed “Information Strategist” corps, an offshoot of the Strategist career field, which the Army created to address the growing importance of Big Data, public media, and individual information to support military operations; the field apparently draws on recent academic interest in humetrics, at the nexus of the “advanced quantified self” movement, behavior psychology and economics, sociology, and technology. This placed Maltz onto the support staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s Global Gabriel artificial intelligence system, a Defense Advanced Research Project that supports national security decision-making by producing sophisticated, real-time wargaming assessments, and which leverages access to both secret and publicly available humetric data. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Grace Hughes recently provided her first testimony on the system: “We are one useful step closer to really knowing, and anticipating, our enemies, and the American people should feel more secure.” It was early this year, in this role with Global Gabriel, that Maltz learned he was scheduled to lose his job with the Army in the summer of 2024, one year before achieving full 20-year military retirement eligibility. Military prosecutors appear convinced this was the motive that pushed Maltz to commit treason and espionage, both of which carry the death penalty in the military legal system.
Note: The rest of this ficticious news story is available at the Atlantic Council’s website here.