Day two of PSA-TEC in Rosemont, Ill., sponsored by the PSA Security Network, based in Westminster, Colo., meant getting out on the show floor and getting in front of those exhibiting vendors to learn about solutions and ask any final questions, as it was the last day of exhibits. But the real treat was the planned evening keynote reception. With the help of newly added partner to the PSA Security Network, Samsung Techwin America, a global supplier of video surveillance products, the event brought Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter, Grammy award-winning musician and national security advisor in front of hundreds of security professionals to present a discussion on “Asymmetrical Thinking in a Conventional World.”
Now for those of you who know your music, you may think, ‘wait a second, what is the founding member of Steely Dan doing at a security conference?’ And for a second, I was almost right there with you in that same mindset. Until Baxter, who likes to refer to himself as a hippie rock guitarist with top security clearance, started comparing the similarities between music and missile defense. Current chair of the congressional advisory board in missile defense, it’s easy to understand, once you sit down and talk to the guy, how he got into the area he is in today. His out-of-the-box thinking in coming at problems in a different perspective really made people stop and listen. And let’s face it—as he proclaimed himself, this “hippie rock guitarist” is not an everyday sight one would expect to see in a military office.
Stemming from an idea that a radar could track a space shuttle, Baxter applied the same thought process in realizing that if that was possible, than it would also be possible to apply the same concept except use the radar in missile defense—and thus came a written paper on the topic from Baxter which made its way into the hands of General Lester L. Lyles, a former United States Air Force general, and well, here we are today.
“Personal security is extremely important,” said Baxter. “We are living in interesting times in which the U.S. no longer has the ability to make mistakes that it did before. We don’t have the economic capabilities to make mistakes.”
The OODA loop, (observe, orient, decide, and act)a concept developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd, has become an important concept in both business and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. Boyd developed the concept to explain how to direct one's energies to defeat an adversary and survive.
“Air combat is analyzing a problem and trying to solve it,” continued Baxter. “We should be able to teach people to analyze just like musicians do. John Boyd said that analysis is about breaking something down into bits and assembling it back together—that’s exactly what musicians do. If you are going to sell security systems and outfit peoples’ homes, as you install these systems, perhaps an added piece to this would be a course in situational awareness—having that ‘third’ eye. Video surveillance gives you situational awareness. Unless you can analyze that and synthesize from it, all you really have is a camera and a microphone.”
With layers of sophistication involved at the forefront of security systems, Baxter’s presentation made it clear that it’s not just about having a security system in place but about understanding situational awareness and how we can implement that into the security industry in the actions we take, the systems we deploy and the environments that security plays a large role in.
“I will leave it up to you all to interface situational awareness into your businesses but I know that it’s doable,” Baxter concluded.