Meet the Fellows 2019: Aaron Barruga

I joined TechCongress so that I could once again serve my country. Almost two decades ago, I watched the Twin Towers fall. Despite being a high school student at the time, there was no question as to whether or not I would serve after graduation.

As a Green Beret in Special Forces, I deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific theater of operations. I worked with a variety of tactical communications equipment and “James Bond” style gadgets. But more importantly, I saw how strategic plans or the acquisition of new technologies briefed well at the command level, but could have markedly different results in the trenches.

Mission failure or the procuring of unique—but unhelpful—equipment was never the fault of a single individual. Instead, mistakes were made because of rigid organizational culture or the favoring of ideas that possessed more charisma than substance.

Today, our nation is shifting focus from counterterrorism and oscillating back towards near peer competition. During this grey period, it’s critical our policymakers embrace cultures of adaptability and innovation so that the proper groundwork is laid to deter our adversaries.

Protecting US physical and digital sovereignty will require significant cooperation between the military, elected officials, and the private sector. This demands members of Congress be well informed so that they understand the gravity of cyber attacks and security vulnerabilities, can create buy-in among hesitant tech companies, while also being able to ask the correct technical questions should these companies need to be held accountable when their platforms are used to undermine US citizens.

I am privileged to once again serve my country and in a position so close to those that influence policy. Although it’s impossible to remove all tragedy from armed conflict, I hope that we can minimize the future burden shouldered by our service men and women by making the correct decisions today. Because of all that is sacrificed to defend the American way of life, theirs can be the greatest.