Editor in Chief
Robert K. Ackerman has been the editor in chief of SIGNAL Magazine for more than a dozen years. A seasoned technology journalist, Ackerman also has served as a war correspondent covering the Iraq War embedded with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
A journalist by training, Ackerman also minored in political science in university. His journalism career dates back more than three decades, beginning with stints as a radio reporter covering the Republican and Democratic parties’ political conventions during the 1976 elections. Following those conventions, he served as a media advisor or a press secretary for candidates in state and presidential campaigns.
Most of his journalism work over the years has been in print journalism. His writings have covered a range of issues involving technology, politics and international security.
Prior to becoming SIGNAL’s editor in chief, Ackerman served as the magazine’s senior editor. He has been with SIGNAL Magazine for more than two decades, during which he has written hundreds of feature articles and authored more than 300 columns and commentaries. His areas of coverage have spanned topics such as military information systems, foreign affairs, intelligence, laboratory research and development, space technologies, international security, terrorism and information operations. He has won or shared in journalism awards from the Aviation Writers Association; APEX; the American Copy Editors Society; PRSA; the Society for Technical Communication; and the American Society of Association Executives.
My Recent Content:The Marines Need a Few Good Connectors
Storming ashore from the sea is becoming increasingly difficult for the U.S. Marine Corps as it faces new missions on the heels of personnel cuts. The nature of Marine assault from the sea is changing, and its aging fleet of amphibious ships are losing their effectiveness both chronologically and evolutionarily.
The U.S. Navy will depend heavily on technology innovation to meet increasing operational demands on a fleet that is aging and suffering from budget constraints, according to the vice chief of naval operations. Adm. Mark E. Ferguson, USN, told the audience at the Thursday luncheon town hall that the Navy needs to work cooperatively with industry to develop the innovative technologies and capabilities it needs.
The threat of armed conflict arising from China’s disputed assertions of territorial claims could be defused if all parties concerned agree to use international law institutions, said a U.S. Navy attorney. Capt Stuart Bell, USN, deputy assistant judge advocate general (international and operations law), told a Thursday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the rule of law can be applied in most cases involving disputes between China and its neighbors to achieve a peaceful resolution.
China is pursuing a strategy of regional expansion into its neighbors’ territories that is spelled out in the country’s own open-source publications, according to a U.S. Navy China expert. The past year saw many provocative acts by the Chinese military and its government, and these fall in line with plans and policies enunciated by even English-language Chinese publications.
China’s People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), growing rapidly but still only a fraction of the size of the U.S. Navy, might be able to prevail in an ocean battle between the two forces. Several factors would work in China’s favor to tip the balance toward the Middle Kingdom in an intense regional conflict.
A panel devoted to China discussed how that might transpire on Thursday at West 2014 in San Diego. Dr. James R. Holmes, a professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College, explained that the PLAN would be facing only a fraction of the entire U.S. Navy if conflict arose between the two. Any fight would occur in waters not far from China, so it could bring shore-based assets—such as aircraft and missiles—to bear against the U.S. fleet. These assets have ranges as far as hundreds of miles, which would put most U.S. naval forces responding to a crisis in the area well within their reach.
Holmes noted that China is building a maritime force capable of defeating U.S. forces in that region. “China’s is a maritime strategy, as opposed to a naval strategy, through and through,” he declared.
Ultimately, China may not even need to exercise force to fulfill its wishes. Holmes offers that an advanced PLAN may deter any U.S. involvement in an escalating regional dispute by convincing U.S. leaders that the price of involvement would be too great, or that winning would come at too high a cost.