Dead Drop: January 14

IARPA FOR THE WIN: On Tuesday January 20, Dr. Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (say that three times fast) joins Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly for a briefing about her agency’s top initiatives for 2022 – but you don’t have to wait until then for a bit of brilliance from IARPA. Although the year is young – we are awarding IARPA the “Best Acronym of 2022” trophy.  On January 4, they posted a request for information (RFI) for what is called “Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (SMART e-PANTS)”.   What does that mean? According to the notice: “The military, first responders…and professional athletes alike desire electronics that can help keep people safe by sensing, processing and communicating information on individuals’ location and physical surroundings (audio and video recording). Integration of these capabilities into textiles for greater capability, comfort and convenience has long been envisioned, free of uncomfortable, bulky, rigid devices strapped to their bodies. Cipher Brief readers are already SMART-E Pants – but you probably already knew that.

NOT SO SMART PANTS:  We know COVID has caused some uncomfortable problems with the international supply chain – but just how awkward the situation had become was brought home to us via an article in the Washington Post which said that things have gotten so bad for the Norwegian military – that new recruits are  being ordered to wear previously used undergarments  “including socks, bras and underwear” that have been returned by other conscripts who had fulfilled their duty. This raised a number of questions in our minds. One was settled when a little research told us that Norway drafts both men and women – so it is unlikely that the guys are being issued used bras.  But still, this is terrible.  Norway is a NATO ally. Instead of sending them MRAPs or F-35s, the U.S. should be sending our allies C-5’s full of BVDs. The Post piece was full of information that was new to us – including the fun fact that the U.S. Marine Corps only recently deep sixed their “male-only underwear allowance” which amounted to (and we are not making this up) “72 cents per year.” What are male Marine warriors doing now without this generous stipend? Depends. Maybe they’re going commando.

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.