Category: Galactic Bioware

Australia’s Berry Amendment

The Berry Amendment requires U.S. defense procurement come from domestic sources, Australia does not have an equivalent.

The U.S. protects its national interests and its domestic defense capability and capacity through a series of strict common sense procurement rules governed by legislation such as the Buy American Act and the Berry Amendment.

In order to protect the U.S. industrial base during periods of adversity and war, Congress passed domestic source restrictions as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act. These provisions later became known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (Title 10 United States Code [U.S.C.] §2533a, Requirement to Buy Certain Articles from American Sources; Exceptions) contains a number of domestic source restrictions that prohibit DOD from acquiring food, clothing (including military uniforms), fabrics (including ballistic fibers), stainless steel, and hand or measuring tools that are not grown or produced in the United States. The Berry Amendment applies to DOD purchases only.

The [CRS] committee supports maintaining the integrity of section 2533a of title 10, United States Code, commonly referred to as the `Berry Amendment,’ which requires 100% U.S. content for certain products sourced for the Armed Forces. The committee is concerned with protecting the supply chain and domestic production base for components and weapon systems that are vital to the Armed Forces. In addition, the practice of sourcing certain products and materials from foreign entities in violation of the Berry Amendment may harm the domestic industrial base, as well as result in U.S. job losses. Therefore, elsewhere in this Act, the committee includes a provision that would require the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to periodically review the Department’s compliance with established restrictions.

Congressional Research Service, Valerie Bailey Grasso, Specialist in Defense Acquisition, February 24, 2014, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL31236.pdf

Relevant to Galactic Bioware is the US DOD’s Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers (HEROES) program which is strengthening each year.

The budget request contained $115.2 million in PE 62143A for Soldier Lethality Technology. The committee is aware of the work being done by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Soldier Center in improving the protection, survivability, mobility, and combat effectiveness of the Army. The committee is also aware that the Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers (HEROES) program is an ongoing joint research and development initiative involving both academia and industry that accelerates research and innovation through integration of intellectual assets and research facilities. The committee believes programs like HEROES provide benefit to research in areas of advanced ballistic polymers for body armor, fibers to make uniforms more fire resistant, and lightweight structures for advanced shelters that provide tangible benefits to the warfighter. To ensure the Army remains at the cutting edge of technology in these critical areas, the committee recommends an increase of $5.0 million in PE 62143A for the HEROES program.

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2020, Report of the Committee on Armed Services, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRPT-116hrpt120/html/CRPT-116hrpt120.htm

Perhaps the closest Australian equivalent is the Land Combat, Amphibious Warfare and Special Operations stream of Defence’s innovation priorities. A focus on special operations capabilities including enhanced human performance.

Land forces require the mobility, firepower, protection and situational awareness capabilities to deploy quickly, achieve their objectives and return home safely.

Defence is seeking innovative proposals for leading-edge equipment to bolster ADF land forces in these capability areas, including amphibious warfare. The Defence Innovation Hub is seeking innovative approaches to developing advanced protection systems for vehicles and individual soldiers that do not inhibit mobility, developing technology underpinned by automation, autonomy and autonomous systems to provide capability enhancements to the land force, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of combatants in hostile environments through the use of new and emerging technologies, and delivering improved signature management and disruption technologies.

Australian Defence Force’s Defence Innovation Hub

Australia’s approach through the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Procurement Rules (CPRs) is significantly less developed, less ambitious and may require attention given worsening regional geopolitical conditions.

The Commonwealth Procurement Rules provide an exemption for “procurement of goods and services by, or on behalf of, the Defence Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Signals Directorate, or the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation.” but do not mandate an explicit preference for domestic supply where that supply exists or could exist.

The Australian Defence Force is undergoing a review intended to strengthen how defence does business with Australian industry but sets out no specific objectives. The 2016 White Paper outlined a strategy for resetting the Defence-industry partnership through the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC). The purpose of the CDIC is to provide strategic leadership for the sector, and to help build the capability and capacity of Australian industry to support the ADF.

The CDIC will be funded at approximately $23 million per year, which will be redirected from existing Defence industry programs funding. The CDIC is designed to help transform the Defence and industry relationship, and to fund new industry development, critical skilling and export programs, as well as facilitate access to Defence’s new innovation programs for small to medium enterprises. In consultation with Government, the CDIC will drive the strategic vision for the defence industry sector, building on the capability needs identified in the Integrated Investment Program. The CDIC will focus on delivering initiatives within three core activities—industry development, facilitating innovation, and business competitiveness and exports.

https://www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/Docs/2016-Defence-Industry-Policy-Statement.pdf

The “Final Report” handed down by the CDIC in 2020 does not quantify any goals for domestic procurement percentages or minimum dollar spend in the domestic sources. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan also does not quantify any Australian procurement goals or objectives. Throughout 2020, the Minister for Defence Industry engaged with the Australian Defence industry and identified a number of opportunities to improve Defence engagement with [Australian] industry and to build a more resilient Defence industrial base, but only at a procedural level.

A key opportunity identified is that it may be timely for the Department of Defence (Defence) to conduct a review of the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) suite of tendering and contracting templates and relevant procurement processes and practices to support these objectives. 

https://www1.defence.gov.au/business-industry/procurement/contracting-templates/asdefcon-suite#ASDEFCON%20and%20Defence%20Procurement%20Review

The articles go on to say “Some of the opportunities for Defence procurement contracting processes and practices identified by the survey responses include:

  • simplifying and streamlining the ASDEFCON contracting templates;
  • removing complexity and onerous flow down obligations that lead to additional cost and risk to the suppliers;
  • developing subcontracting templates for industry to use;
  • expanding Defence commercial acumen within its procurement practices;
  • mandating Defence payment terms through the supply chain and considering partial payments of milestones to facilitate cash flow to industry, including small to medium enterprises (SMEs); and
  • relaxing some barriers to industry’s (particularly SMEs) participation in Defence’s supply chain.”

Much more could be done to stimulate and sustain a robust domestic defence industry in Australia and there seems to be political ambitions to do so, but it has to start with public quantified goals for domestic supply to incentivise talent to start and work for Australian defence companies. Current (public) goals for the domestication of defence supply are unquantified and not timelined. Australia does not have the demand or budget to be self-reliant across the military and intelligence capability spectrum, but in certain spots, could benefit from publicising the intention (subject to availability, quality and performance of course) to transition specific spending from foreign suppliers to domestic ones. This could enable crowding-in and a right-sizing of private investment that is matched to the potential transitioned spending. Done well and in focused “bite size” waves, the Australian economy generally will benefit as will the security outcomes in an increasingly uncertain future.

Galactic Bioware soft launches

The website has now gone live and the most of the 2021 Casual Collection has been announced – there are 3 more products to be added in the coming weeks.

Galactic Bioware “Ranger Hood” Hoodie

Galactic Bioware was founded to address three problems:

1. Gun-control and routine violence in the US and many places around the world is not improving, and recent politics hasn’t helped. Responsible gun laws seem so far away that many other initiatives need to work together to reduce the injuries and deaths resulting from city violence. New schools (and some retrofits) are designed to be school shooter resilient and modern school designs avoid large open spaces as well as providing safety zones amongst other safety features. Digging further into this, there is no mass-market low-cost and casual looking/subtle protective outerwear for children and families. We’re addressing this with our 2021 Casual Collection for adults and children – our children and young adult ballistic and stab resistant gear launches in a matter of weeks. It’s not military grade gear but you’re going to be much better off in our gear than in regular clothing. Check out some of the products here. All made in Australia and shipped to the world.

2. Technology and innovation absorption into the safety industry’s products is extremely poor. There is more tech in an consumer iPhone than in any professional-grade first responder safety equipment. There is a culture of rusted-on government & corporate suppliers selling the same fire fighting gear, radiation gear, PPE, CBRN, life vests, etc that haven’t had an incentive to innovate in any material way since World War II. Galactic Bioware has designed an advanced fire fighting power suit – the Fire Knight – which is many multiples safer, more comfortable, better communications, voice controlled, has a full audit trail for training and investigations, armoured in key areas, etc. read more about it and our plane & helicopter crash survival suit – the Velociraptor – on the Power Suits page.

3. The research and development as well as production capabilities we are refining in armour, insulation, fire, radiation, energy systems, defense systems, etc will ultimately lead to major advances in power suits for space / interplanetary settlement and long duration space exploration as well as highly sophisticated Earth suits (think Iron Man). We’re building this capability in real time, all in Australia. I want Australia to develop new and future-proof manufacturing based industries that use our natural resources advantage for ourselves, rather than giving away all of the value to foreign countries and companies.

Galactic Bioware “Main Shield” Cap

Stay tuned. If you’re interested, we’re hiring a range of technical roles in electrical, chemical, mechatronic, software and materials/textiles engineering to join our 10 person team. I’ll post again when the jobs page is up.

Go Bag – Optical Additions

Humvee 10×50 Field Binocular with Galactic Bioware prototypes

The current Go bag is light on escape and tactical optics so I’ve made the following additions:

  • Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60mm Tactical Spotting Scope
  • Humvee 10×50 Field Binocular
  • FLIR Breach PTQ136 Thermal Imaging Monocular (60Hz)
  • Streamlight ProTac HL-X 1000 Lumens Flashlight Black

This all still fits in the Condor Colossus Duffle Bag (52 Litres) although it is getting cramped in there.

In the photo above I’m wearing:

  • G-Shock Digital Military Black Series, Shock Resistant GD400MB-1D
  • Humvee 10×50 Field Binocular
  • Galactic Bioware Prototype Cap
  • Galactic Bioware Prototype Tee
  • (out of shot) Galactic Bioware Prototype Tactical Pants
  • (out of shot) Merrell Moab 2 Mid Tactical Waterproof Boots Black

Optics gear sourced from TacticalGear.com.au

The Generalist “Go” Bag

As I get deeper into the personal safety and survival industry with Galactic Bioware, I have become fascinated with the “Go” bag and what kinds of gear one should pack to prepare for the widest array of situations. We’ve all seen these in films and novels, but I hadn’t previously turned my mind to making one and what I’d include if I were to.

I wanted to share some of the gear that I have studied and catalogued that I think would be a great generalist “Go” bag. I’ve also done somewhat of a literature review of all the major “Go” bag recipes online.

All of the below should fit inside a 52 litre bag and can be carried whilst running for a prolonged duration.

The below has not considered 1) clothing/warmth, 2) local radio broadcasting issues in your country, 3) whether these items are legal in your country, and 4) any medical/special needs that you might have. It goes without saying that this is not to be taken too seriously and is not advice of any kind!

The Bag

  • Condor Colossus Duffle Bag (52 Litres)

Medical Equipment

  • MyMedic “The Medic” Medical Kit (to be mounted on the outside of the Colossus)
  • Iosat Potassium Iodide Tablets (at least 48 tablets)
  • Learn & Live First Aid Kit
  • 10 x 23 in 1 Water Test Kit
  • Water purification tablets (at least 120 tablets)
  • Sea To Summit reusable quick dry towel
  • Toothbrush and 2 x large tooth paste tubes
  • Hand sanitiser

Tools

  • Gerber Diesel Multi-Plier – Stainless
  • Gerber Downrange Tomahawk
  • Smith & Wesson Bullseye Extreme Ops Serrated Tanto Knife
  • G-Shock Digital Military Black Series, Shock Resistant GD400MB-1D
  • Orienteering-level analogue compass (not powered)
  • Nitecore MT20A 2XAA 360 lumen LED torch
  • Tecsun – Best Emergency Radio (AM/FM/SW Solar Powered with Hand Crank)
  • EasyLog Dual Channel K, J & T-type Thermocouple Data Logger with Graphic Screen
    • Thermocouple Hand Held Immersion Type K 3 X 150 MM
  • Nitecore NWS10 emergency whistle
  • Wiley X Valor | Polarised Grey Lens W/ Matte Black Frame
  • Small tarpaulin (~1 square meter to collect water)
  • 3 metres of Paracord (7mm to 10mm)

Hazmat & CBRN

  • MIRA Safety CM-7M Military Gas Mask
  • MIRA Safety CM-6M Tactical Gas Mask
  • Filters:
    • CBRN Gas Mask Filter NBC-77 SOF 40mm Thread x 10
    • ParticleMax P3 Virus Filter x 10
  • 2 x MIRA Safety HAZ-SUIT Protective CBRN HAZMAT
  • RADEX RD1212-BT Advanced Radiation Detector
  • Solar Eclipse / Welding Goggles (Shade 14)

Security

  • Pro-Lok 11pc Pick Set & Case
  • 125KHz RFID Copier/Writer/Readers/Duplicator (10 spare tags)
  • Cash (ideally USD) and any gold/precious metals that could be tradeable

Identification:

  • Passports
  • Birth Certificate
  • Any land titles / asset titles

You may not want to furnish these, depending on the situation, and they can always be dropped if its more dangerous to have them than not.

Consumables

  • Batteries (assorted collection), see my note below on battery type consistency.
  • Matches (double waterproofed)
  • Long-life high-energy snacks (3 days worth of energy for you)
  • Few cans of tuna / long-life protein
  • 2L of water across 1 x one litre vessels (fill up on departure)
  • Duct tape
  • Roll of toilet paper

General Comments

  • Try to keep devices that need batteries in the same battery size e.g. all AA or all AAA.
  • I’d carry enough batteries to power 1 month of expected use of each of the powered devices.
  • Avoid anything with rechargeable batteries unless you are going to commit to a portable solar/generator system, then have everything run off that. This is riskier in my view in an adverse situation than a cache of batteries.
  • You’ll likely bury/drop/hide equipment you don’t need regularly to come back to later, so better to pack more and shed it than not have what you need.

NOVEMBER 2020 UPDATE:

Optics gear added (see this post) including:

  • Leupold Mark 4 12-40x60mm Tactical Spotting Scope
  • Humvee 10×50 Field Binocular
  • FLIR Breach PTQ136 Thermal Imaging Monocular (60Hz)
  • Streamlight ProTac HL-X 1000 Lumens Flashlight Black

Armour is a Weapon

As part of Galactic Bioware‘s product development effort, I’ve had to get very deep in the issue of the handling of protected fibres such as those that comprise the well-known Kevlar (Aramid) by DuPont and less well-known, but much more interesting, Dyneema (UHMWPE) by Royal DSM which are common soft fabrics used in body armour products.

tl;dr – anything which can be used to make body armour outside of the US is extremely regulated as a weapon.

Each of the countries in our supply chain has different laws that apply to protected fibres, the ingredients for soft body armour. This makes for a complex regulatory web that impedes innovation in the civilian, defence and military sectors as a whole.

My opening position with this company is that our production should be onshore in Australia to help contribute to Australia’s efforts to rebuild a real economy based on advanced manufacturing, materials science, engineering, research and development, as opposed to, well, digging stuff out of the ground. This is particularly important for the state of Victoria, which has been the most severely economically debilitated by COVID-19.

The politics of body armour is not well known, but it is self-evident once you start to think about it. Some of the policing challenges in Australia’s modern memory start around the time of Ned Kelly and his gang which is a well-known but rare case of body armour being worn in a relatively contemporary society.

Ned Kelly’s home made body armour from c. 1880

Copyright Wikipedia
Image copyright Chensiyuan, sourced from Wikipedia
Key issues
  1. State’s desire for a monopoly on violence
  2. Principle of escalation in crime management
State monopoly on violence

The opening position of most contemporary societies (ex. USA) is that the state should have the monopoly on violence through police and the military. This means that weapons, and the protection from weapons, the argument goes, should only be available to these groups. Civilians do not need body armour in their daily lives, as the risk of harm from weapons is low.

In the State of Victoria, body armour is so defined:

“body armour” means a garment or item—
a) that is designed, intended or adapted for the purpose of protecting the body from the effects of a weapon, including a firearm; and
b) that is prescribed by the regulations to be body armour;

In New South Wales, the definitions are similar, as they are across most states in Australia.

The police in Australia have a great track record of not shooting people unless absolutely necessary, and violent crime is very low, so the question is why should anyone want body armour in the first place?

Well, low risk is not no risk. The world is becoming increasingly fragile and the availability and proliferation of weapons is definitionally higher than is reported.

Body armour (in general) also protects against innocent accidents e.g. hunter cross-fire to park rangers and hikers, bomb shrapnel, stab wounds, etc. It must be noted though that body armour is surprisingly lacking in versatility, for example, armour that is good for resisting ballistics such as bullets might be hopeless with knife slashes.

Whilst the state has monopolised violence at law, they have not in practice, and the disarmed and disarmoured civilian population currently absorbs this risk.

Principle of escalation

Escalation is best summarised by Commissioner Jim Gordon in Batman Begins:

Batman
Batman is a trademark of DC Comics, film copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

Jim Gordon: What about escalation?
Batman: Escalation?
Jim Gordon: We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds.

See clip on YouTube

It is a well accepted and rarely challenged argument that the greater the availability of body armour, the more it can be used by criminals to resist arrest and potentially do more harm whilst at-large. So that if body armour is legal, then criminals will be harder to catch.

Critics of this position suggest that if criminals can obtain weapons illegally, they can also obtain body armour illegally. Therefore, making body armour illegal disadvantages law abiding citizens seeking lower overall risk of harm, and does not really impact on criminals. Body armour in the hands of law abiding citizens does not pose risk to other citizens.

In an increasingly uncertain world with the visible breaking down of many systems that were assumed to always work, some of these legal positions may need to be revisited.

As a result, when Galactic Bioware launches its first product range in late 2020, the products, while Made in Australia, will not be available for Australian consumers.