Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Forget Bellingcat. Meet a Real “Open Source” Watchdog

Jack Poulson has an insider’s background, an outsider’s perspective, and unique technical expertise, making him an invaluable resource for monitoring the world of national security contracting

Sep 22, 2023

Latest in a series of Q&As with other reporters and writers on Substack.

On September 11th of this year, on the third floor of the Nauticus museum in Norfolk, Virginia, defense and intelligence representatives gathered for the first and only unclassified meeting of a Naval Special Warfare Command “technology integration exercise,” called Trident Spectre 2024. What is Trident? The three-minute video above was unveiled for attendees. It pitched the program as a matchmaking forum for contractors and “defense leaders” who “tour the experimentation camp during the exercise, leading to technology transition or outright acquisition,” the contract-hungry crowd was told, in tantalizing narration.

“Our ultimate goal,” the Trident video summed up, “is to shorten the acquisition kill chain, and enable the special operations warriors of the future.”

What’s an “acquisition kill chain”? You likely wouldn’t get an answer to that question either from industry visitors, or the “defense leaders” present clutching strings to very heavy purses. There was however one person in attendance who could explain to the public who was there, and why.

The founder of a pair of web sites, “TechInquiry.Org” and Substack’s “All Source Intelligence Fusion,” Jack Poulson has a PhD in applied mathematics, is a former researcher for Stanford and Google, and has a backstory that makes him uniquely qualified to keep track of defense contractors and pass on information like his just-published list of 188 industry attendees to Trident Spectre. The backstory he’ll explain in his own words, below. First, an introduction to what his sites do:

Both “Tech Inquiry” and “All Source Intelligence Fusion” employ Poulson’s designs for combining open-source information with leaks, disclosures in books and memoirs, and other esoteric data. In addition to going to events like “Trident Spectre” to gather information in person, Poulson builds interactive maps and search engines allowing civilians to identify things like contracting relationships.


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