Air University Press


Maj David J. Stuckenberg

  • Published

Author of Electromagnetic Defense Task Force

Maj David Stuckenberg is acting director of strategic plans at HQ Texas Air National Guard, Camp Mabry (Austin), Texas. In this role, Major Stuckenberg helps lead and direct the Air Staff’s strategic planning directorate (A-8) to ensure modernization and force readiness across the nation’s largest National Guard, whose mission is to provide military support to state and civil authorities and domestic and international security operations directed by the president of the United States.

Stuckenberg enlisted in the USAF in March 2003 and was commissioned through the USAF-ROTC at the University of Missouri in 2008 after completing a bachelor of science degree. After commissioning, Major Stuckenberg earned his pilot wings and served in multiple military leadership and staff positions, including director of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, Commanders Action Group (CAG), and Chief of Plans and Programs (XP) during which he was programmatically responsible for bilateral US treaty compliance, $1 trillion in Department of Defense assets, and 33 tenant units (including two combatant commands). He has served as a combat aviator in both jet and propeller aircraft and has operational experience ranging from special operations and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to conventional and nuclear missions.

Before his current position, Major Stuckenberg served at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he conducted red-team and wargame evaluations at the nexus of emerging strategy and technology (including quantum and nano-sciences). Prior to this assignment, he was a military advisor and Strategic Policy Fellow at the US Department of State, where he directed the largest aviation peacekeeping and capacity building portfolio in the department’s history and regularly advised the National Security Council and United Nations.

Prior to assignment in Washington, DC, Stuckenberg served as aide-de-camp to the commander of Air Education & Training Command (AETC). In this capacity, he also served as AETC’s lead strategist and subject matter expert on technology. During his tenure as aide-de-camp, the major founded the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF) for the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The culmination of his EDTF research and wargaming allowed him to next establish the San Antonio Electromagnetic Defense Initiative (EDI) in concert with the Texas Military Department. EDTF-EDI was benchmarked by The White House as the first strategy to demonstrate how to holistically protect a US population center from electromagnetic and cyber threats. The EDTF culminated with Presidential Executive Order 13865, on which Major Stuckenberg advised during his tenure in Washington. The EDTF research reports authored by Major Stuckenberg and Ambassador R. James Woolsey, sixteenth director of Central Intelligence, are the most downloaded documents in Air University Press’s history.

Before serving as an aide-de-camp, Major Stuckenberg was selected by Air Mobility Command HQ under the Chief of Staff’s Prestigious PhD Program to undertake a scholarship at King’s College London.

He is the cofounder and first CEO of a successful technology start-up, Genesis Systems, and an inventor working to solve global freshwater scarcity. David holds patents globally and is an active research fellow at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (Laurel, MD). He holds a master’s degree in political management from The George Washington University and earned a doctorate degree in international affairs and strategy from King’s College London. He also serves as the chairman of the board at American Leadership & Policy Foundation, a nonprofit public research think tank focused on economics, law, and national security.

For his combat service, Major Stuckenberg was awarded the Air Medal and multiple Aerial Achievement Medals. He has flown in all major theaters of war since September 11, 2001.

Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF) 2018 Report

In August 2018 Air University brought together a diverse group of leading subject matter experts to address current challenges in the electromagnetic spectrum. This report summarizes insights, conclusions, and recommendations developed during the inaugural Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF). The EDTF seeks to inspire action based upon an array of research spanning more than six decades. Such actions and exploits are needed to immediately deepen the defense and resilience of the United States and its allies. [Maj David Stuckenberg, USAF; Amb. R. James Woolsey; and Col Douglas DeMaio, USAF; Editor: Dr. Ernest Allan Rockwell / 2018 / 69 pages / ISBN: 978-1-58566-286-9 / AU Press Code: P-127]

Electromagnetic Defense Task Force 2.0—2019 Report 

In spring 2019 Air University hosted subject matter experts from across the country to expand on the accomplishments of the inaugural Electromagnetic Defense Task Force (EDTF). Building on the 2018 summit, the 2019 EDTF summit advanced and amplified recommendations to leaders nationwide, ensuring the call for awareness, preparation, defense, and mitigation is sounded far and wide. Using extensive research and expertise, EDTF 2.0 participants have contributed to understanding, preparedness, and resilience for communities throughout the United States. [Maj David Stuckenberg, USAF; Amb. R. James Woolsey, Col Douglas DeMaio, USAF; Editor: Donna Budjenska / 2019 / 130 pages / ISSN: 2575-6737 / AU Press Code: LP-4]

Q1: What prompted your interest in what culminated in the Electromagnetic Defense Task Force?

As a member of the nuclear community and a treaty compliance officer, I became aware that a number of dynamic geostrategic factors required an adaptation of US-NATO strategies with respect to the electromagnetic spectrum. This understanding became the basis of a PhD research hypothesis. The core hypothesis was that nuclear deterrence no longer applied in certain geostrategic contexts, including the gray zone.

As a result of increased activities in the gray zone, US strategy required rapid adaptation of coherent strategies with the whole of government input. During the EDTF, I was given a mandate: solve the problem. To do so, I hand-selected 350 experts and strategists and 150 government and academic institutions who served on 22 think tanks (over multiple weeks). The final findings of these efforts are presented in the two taskforce reports I coauthored with Amb. R. James Woolsey, sixteenth director of the CIA, and Col Douglas DeMaio. In summary, the findings of the EDTF supported my research hypotheses that the United States cannot deter in the gray zone with legacy constructs. To prevent a strategic attack, the US-NATO must use a strategy that has become obscure. The relevant strategy for today is called dissuasion.

Q2: What has been the reception to the two task force reports?

The Task Force Reports are the most downloaded documents in the history of Air University. I have seen them used frequently in public and private research. These reports are a trove of rich unclassified information that can be reliably used to develop novel strategies and to help support advocacy efforts.

Interestingly, these reports have led to attempts at both coercion and threats against the authors. For example, I was notified by someone in government that a failure to retract the EDTF reports “in 4 days” would cause me problems. Thankfully, I was able to rely on AU’s ironclad mandate, as the intellectual leadership center of the Air Force, to protect the integrity of public research and ensure academic freedom. This mandate prevented political efforts to censure the reports.

The value of truthful discourse in such documents is critical to increasing and sustaining public knowledge, faith, and trust. If the public does not know about very real and challenging conditions, our citizens can never ask their representatives to take the needed actions to protect them. We have some distance remaining until our safety and security are perfect, but we have also made great strides together.

Q3: What do you want readers to take from this work?

The high cost in obtaining makes something valuable. Because of this, truth (the facts) is exceptionally valuable. But truth is far more dangerous than many weapons. Information, or truth, is the true power in the present age. If we as citizens and scholars are unwilling to make sacrifices to ensure the integrity and fidelity of the research and information we are involved with, we undermine the very republic we have sworn an oath to defend.

We need to remember that not everyone is interested in the success of liberty. As long as our torch burns brightly, the United States and our allies will be an affront to those governments who thrive by depriving people of their inalienable rights and freedoms. Value truth. Truth is the very foundation of our democratic system—our combined success depends on the preservation of truth.

Q4: Have you conducted subsequent research in this area? Are your findings and recommendations being applied in current US government (state and federal) planning for and responding to cyber threats?

An EDTF is able to be held any time and only requires a major command or other entity such as Joint Staff or Defense Threat Reduction Agency to sponsor and fund it. There are hundreds of cadre from EDTF within all government agencies. These cadre were deliberately developed during EDTF to have a holistic understanding of the nature of unique electromagnetic spectrum threats. These professionals and other deliberate efforts continue to inform our nation and our citizens.

For example, in San Antonio, Texas, the Electromagnetic Defense Initiative (EDI), a spin-off of EDTF, is ongoing. EDI is working to implement recommendations and strategies that were developed by EDTF and which have been modified and improved under the leadership of Lt Col Edward “Thumper” Stamper and Brig Gen Mike “Apollo” Lovell. To date, the EDI has received millions in federal grants and has more than 400 strategic partners. These efforts are expanding to other US cities. In my view, as the strategies and recommendations are adopted, the ongoing efforts to address and harm the US homeland and infrastructure will be greatly diminished. That is the point, and the motto of EDI, “It’s my home too.”

That said, one of the most critical areas the US must address are the disconnects highlighted in EDTF Report 2.0, Annex I, which address the safety and security of US nuclear power generation facilities. These facilities must be made a higher priority going forward.

Electromagnetic Defense Task Force and Initiatives

Classified Report: Joint Chiefs of Staff & Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA): Report is Classified.

Maj David Stuckenberg, Amb R. James Woolsey, and Col Douglas DeMaio. Electromagnetic Defense Task Force: 2018 Report. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2018.

Describes the broad activities and findings of the EDTF in 2018. Findings are Unclassified.

Maj David Stuckenberg, Amb R. James Woolsey, Col Douglas DeMaio. Electromagnetic Defense Task Force 2.0: 2019 Report. Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 2019.

Describes the broad activities and findings of the EDTF in 2019. Findings are Unclassified.

“Electromagnetic Pulse Threats to America’s Electric Grid: Counterpoints to Electric Power Research Institute Positions.” Over the Horizon: Multi-Domain Operations & Strategy, 27 August 2019.

Addresses power industry efforts to ensure the status quo with respect to the wider US electric infrastructure. The rebuttal was composed by more than a dozen US government experts and engineers working under academic freedom of EDTF.

Federal Documents

Executive Order 13865, Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses. 26 March 2019.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

David Stuckenberg. “The Failing of Strategic Deterrence and Resilience: Contemporary Implications for NATO.” NATO Science and Technology Organization Deterrence and Assurance within an Alliance Framework Symposium, King’s College London, 18 January 2019. Presentation, MP-SAS-141-16P, 17 April 2019.

David Stuckenberg. “Re-orienting NATO Deterrence: The Reality of Strategic Gray Zone Threats.” NATO Science and Technology Organization Deterrence and Assurance within an Alliance Framework Symposium, King’s College London, 18 January 2019. Meeting Proceedings Paper MP-SAS-141-16, 25 March 2019.

Michael Tattar and David Rudd. “Technical Evaluation Report.” NATO Science and Technology Organization Deterrence and Assurance within an Alliance Framework Symposium, King’s College London, 18 January 2019. Meeting Proceedings Paper MP-SAS-141-TER, 2 April 2019.

Harvard University

David J. Stuckenberg and Anthony L. Contento. “Water Scarcity: The Most Understated Global Security Risk.” Harvard Law School National Security Journal (website), 18 May 2018.

Stephen Maddox and David Stuckenberg. “Drones in the US National Airspace System: A Safety and Security Assessment.” Harvard Law School National Security Journal (website), 24 February 2015.

King’s College London

David Stuckenberg, Shannon Stuckenberg, and Tony Contento. “What Can We Learn from Defence Policy to Tackle Global Water Scarcity?” King’s College London (website), 10 July 2020.

“Deterrence in the Gray Zone: Evaluating NATO's Strategic Sufficiency.” Not Publicly Releasable: PhD. Thesis, The Maughn Library, London, UK.

Air University

Air University Library. Electronic Warfare Resources. 11 June 2021.

American Leadership & Policy Foundation

Hershel Campbell and David Stuckenberg. Electromagnetic Pulse and Space Weather and The Strategic Threat to America’s Nuclear Power Stations, Final Report. Kansas City, MO: American Leadership & Policy Foundation, June 2015.

This research addresses a critical information gap by examining technical and security aspects of nuclear plant design, nuclear disasters, the regulatory climate, and how these factors could impact our national security in the wake on an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or space weather (geomagnetic disturbance, or GMD) event.

Mitchell Institute for Air and Space Studies

David Stuckenberg and Peter Garretson. “Updating the Laws of War for the 21st Century: Time to Reconsider, and Ban, Modern Nation-Killing Acts.” The Mitchell Forum, no. 25, April 2019.

Other Journals

David Stuckenberg, USAF, and Stephen Maddox, USAF. “Drones in the US National Airspace System.” International Journal of Aviation systems, Operations and Training 1, no. 2 (July–December 2014): 1–22.

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