NEW ORLEANS - Marine Forces Reserve is composed of Marines who not only serve in the military but also actively contribute in the civilian sector.
Maj. Mathison Hall, a detachment commander with 2nd Civil Affairs Group and a senior analyst at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is one of those dynamic warfighters succeeding in both his military and civilian careers. In July 2017, Hall combined his civilian and military experiences to win the first Mad Scientist Science Fiction writing competition hosted by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
In November 2016, Hall received an information flyer from a co-worker about the competition. The topic was “Warfare in 2030 to 2050” and the competition was open for anyone to compete. After reading more about the contest and the submission guidelines he decided to sign up.
“I’ve done other writing projects but I’ve never done a contest,” said Hall. “What I found interesting about this one is that in my civilian job here at Johns Hopkins, we essentially research and create technology for the government. Not just the military, but we do a lot of military technological development.”
Hall pulled his experiences from both his time in the Marine Corps and working at Johns Hopkins into the concepts for his winning entry.
“I had a base of experience as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps, participating in many patrols and serving in Iraq,” said Hall. “I was thinking through my experiences and applying, at a basic level, my understanding of a lot of the advanced technologies that we research here at Johns Hopkins.”
Hall’s story provides a take on how technology could affect the way troops gather information and communicate in future conflicts and even how technology could affect human performance factors.
“One of the concepts I’ve been struggling with on the military side of my life is all these emerging technologies from drones, artificial intelligence and full internet connectivity,” said Hall. “Are we integrating them into our small combat units effectively and technologically preparing our units for the future? I decided to kind of combine those ideas, my interaction with advanced technology here at Johns Hopkins with my thoughts and concerns on the military side, and envision what the future of infantry combat may look like in the next couple of decades.”
Hall never produced any major publications before the competition but has written short pieces and features for magazines and newspapers.
“I would like to become a professional writer,” said Hall. “This is one of my early publications with hopefully more to follow. I’ve, also, never written or published fiction before this.”
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command accepted submissions between Nov. 22, 2016, and Feb. 15, 2017.
“We had 150 submissions from authors in 10 different countries, Singapore, Germany, Finland, UK, Russia, Ukraine, USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia,” said Allison Winer, Deputy Director of Mad Scientist Initiative TRADOC. “This diversity in authors presented us with a wide variety of thoughts and ideas on the future Operational Environment and warfare.”
Hall received an invitation to the concluding 2017 Mad Scientist Conference co-hosted by the Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service’s Center for Security Studies in Washington, D.C. The Conference was held on July 25-26, 2017.
“I gave my presentation, received a 3D printed small statue of a power suit that a future soldier would wear and they also made a video,” said Hall. “The whole point is to bring people together from scientists to military leaders, engineers to fiction writers to envision the future of warfare to help guide the Army where it needs to go.”
Hall’s story is available at www.armyupress.army.mil/Online-Publications/Future-Warfare-Writing-Program/Patrolling-in-the-Infosphere.
An animated video based on the story is available at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vW9dGQSfbW4.