Chuck de Caro
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Charles John “Chuck” de Caro (born 1950 in Providence, Rhode Island) is an American strategist and futurist who originated the concept of SOFTWAR which is defined as: “The hostile use of global visual media to shape another society’s will by changing its view of reality.”
He is the progenitor and advisor of the world’s first experimental military virtual unit, under a research contract with the Department of Defense. The 1st SOFTWAR Unit (Virtual) was organized at Joint Training Base Los Alamitos,California, in July 2013. The 1stSU(V), is composed entirely of California Army and Air Guard personnel whose civilian occupations and talents have no analog in any other branch of government. The experimental unit is designed to assist combatant commanders and government agencies with difficult problems in Information Warfare.
His original SOFTWAR thesis was published in 1991 by the Providence Journal Bulletin and led to lectures, books and articles on Information Warfare, which he continues to produce to the present day; as well as into research projects for the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment.
He later followed various career paths including service with the 20th Special Forces Group and then transitioned to journalism with the Providence Journal Bulletin, the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, and the (New Orleans) Vieux Carre’ Courier.
In the mid 1970s, de Caro became a television reporter with smaller local TV stations, most notably WTSP-TV in Tampa, Florida, where he reported live from inside the eye of Hurricane David from a USAF WC-130H Hurricane Hunter aircraft. While at WTSP-TV, he also became one of the first journalists to fly both the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets.
While researching and writing a novel titled "Spacewar: The Enterprise Affair," about military use of the Space Shuttle, de Caro was given the opportunity to participate in many segments of NASA astronaut training. Besides centrifuge rides and practice in the Space Shuttle EVA suit, he completed some 600 zero-gravity parabolas aboard NASA's "Vomit Comet" along with astronauts Robert. L. Gibson, Sally Ride, and Steve Hawley . The then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Thomas B. Ross, liked de Caro's project so much that he recommended that the US Air Force loan him a T-38 Talon jet trainer and an instructor pilot to simulate Space Shuttle approaches and landings. The resultant article, "Flying the White Rocket" was published by Challenge Publications "Air Combat Magazine - Special Edition" in 1980. He continued his association with NASA, flying more zero-G flights to report on the new Space Shuttle airlock, even interviewing Astronaut Jerry L. Ross while in weightless mode.
In 1981 he began working WPIX-TV and Independent News Network in New York City. Two years later he joined Cable News Network as a Special Assignment Correspondent. As a lone combat reporter/cameraman and fluent in Spanish, he would spend up to nine weeks at a time in the jungles of Nicaragua covering the operations of ARDE guerillas led by Eden Pastora (aka Commandante Cero) and Hugo Spadafora.
During the Grenada invasion of 1983, he and CNN founding Vice President Ted Kavanau, who acted as his cameraman, sailed and paddled into Grenada, to get around the US Department of Defense imposed news embargo while that island was being invaded. Their confrontation with the US Navy would end up as a front page photograph in the New York Times.
Mr. de Caro and his cameraman, Ken Kelsch, another former member of US Army Special Forces, used their military training to slip in and out of Suriname in 1984, to do exclusive CNN reports on American mercenaries and Surinamese guerillas trying to overthrow the Bouterse regime. Mr. de Caro also reported and produced investigative documentaries on illegal drug operations, foreign espionage and criminal gangs. He also did CNN documentaries on Radio Frequency Weapons, the Bentwaters UFO Incident and the First Trans-Atlantic Air Rally. He also parachuted with USAF Combat Control Teams and US Army Rangers to generate vivid CNN reports on those military units.
In 1985 de Caro piloted a jet with the first US Navy female aviator assigned to an Aggressor Squadron (VF-43), Lieutenant Linda “Peaches” Shaffer. With CNN cameraman org/news_and_events/news/2008/05/biello. html Mark Biello video taping from a chase plane, de Caro successfully flew through the entire out-of-control flight syllabus which included spins, inverted spins, and even an “uncorking” maneuver using an inverted snap roll at the top of a loop with forward stick called a "Lomcevak". Flying with the Royal Navy in 1986, de Caro was the first American civilian to graduate from the Royal Navy's Water Survival School at Seafield Park. He later flew numerous sorties in Hawker Hunter jet fighters with Commander Christopher Hunneyball, RN, who had been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his efforts in the Falklands War.
His CNN documentary “The Zap Gap” and an article of the same name published in The Atlantic Monthly in March 1987 caused a stir in the Pentagon because it delineated the vulnerabilities of many US weapons systems to High Energy Radio Frequency (HERF) and Directed Energy Weapons (DEW).
While writing a front page story for the independent Army Times newspaper he became the first non-government civilian to attend and graduate from the US Army Air Assault School and was awarded the coveted Air Assault Badge. His colleague and friend, CNN Anchor Lynne Russell pinned on his air assault badge upon his graduation from the course.
Mr. de Caro became a technical advisor and on-air consultant in the 1990s to three TV Series magazines: Hard Copy, Sightings, and Encounters. He also worked with Donald P. Bellisaro in two Belisarius Productions TV dramas: Quantum Leap, and JAG. He also did un-credited technical advising on the series First Monday and NCIS. Mr. de Caro joined the Screen Actors Guild and played himself in the JAG TV series, appearing with actors Catherine Bell, Karri Turner, and Andrea Thompson.
Development of SOFTWAR
In 1987, de Caro founded AEROBUREAU CORPORATION where he and his colleagues, designed, built, and operated the world's first flying news center based on a Lockheed L-188 Electra0 turboprop transport aircraft. AEROBUREAU’s capabilities are described in the article http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=66&paper=1924 “Sometimes the Dragon Wins” by Charles Dunlap and in the BBC HORIZON Documentary, “The I Bomb.” His CNN Special Assignments and AEROBUREAU experience led him to membership in the Radio-Television News Directors Association. After being briefed on AEROBUREAU, the US Navy thought so much of AEROBUREAU’s technology that they incorporated the concepts of using Pioneer RPV transmitters and stabilized electro-optical cameras into operational systems that are still in use today.
In 1993, while working as a futurist and consultant to the AAI Corporation, de Caro created a theoretical, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle called VITO (Very Intelligent Tactical Observer) based on the Charles H. Zimmerman low-aspect ratio wing for presentation at the conference of the Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) VITO’s futuristic characteristics included UAV satellite control and active camouflage, which were brought to life years later in the Predator UAV and Boeing Bird of Prey.
As an independent researcher he has worked intermittently with the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment for the past two decades, on an array of projects, including the creation of the world’s first military “Virtual Unit.” The unit, called AMOEBA, was developed using National Guard volunteers under Colonel (later Major General) Bruce Lawlor.
In January 2011, de Caro’s books, articles, DoD studies and videos on SOFTWAR and Information Warfare were integrated into the Military Science curriculum at a ceremony at his alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy. During that ceremony he was “coined” by both the Dean of USAFA, Brigadier General Dana H. Born and the Military Science Department Head, Colonel Thomas A. Drohan as token of regard by the institution.
He is the one of co-authors of textbooks on Information Operations and Cybernetic-Warfare, published by AFCEA International Press and which are used by war colleges around the world. The titles include: Cyberwar: Security, Strategy and Conflict in the Information Age, Cyberwar 2.0: Myths, Mysteries and Reality, and Cyberwar 3.0: Human Factors in Information Operations and Future Conflict.
Mr. de Caro lectures regularly at the National Defense University, the National Defense Intelligence College, and the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. He has also lectured at the USAF Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, USAFA, US Army War College, US Army Command and General Staff College, Naval Postgraduate School, the Swedish National Defense College, and the Netherlands Defense College.
In cooperation with the former Robert R. McCormick foundation CEO, Brigadier General David L. Grange, USA (ret) and others, de Caro has been one of the co-authors of the following McCormick publications: From Gun Violence to Civic Health: A “Whole of City” Approach to Creating Chicago’s Future © 2009; Whole of Nation Global Engagement: Confronting Irregular Challenges in the 21st Century © 2008; Whole of Nation Approach to Irregular Conflict / Warfare © 2008; Russia’s Attack on Georgia: What to do with the Awakened Bear © 2008; Irregular Warfare Support Operation – Establishing Area Influence Operations in the IW Battlespace: Using IW Support Base Networks © 2007; Confronting Iran – Securing Iraq’s Border: An Irregular Warfare Concept © 2007; Understanding the Mission of US International Broadcasting © 2007 Confronting Iran: US Options © 2007; and Forging an Iran Strategy © 2006
His current book-in-progress is called KILLING AL QAEDA and evolved from a presentation of the same name given at the prestigious DoD-sponsored Command and Control Research Program .
Presently, de Caro works as a consultant for governments and organizations as well as a lecturer in and out of the United States. This work expands on his SOFTWAR theories and looks at the use of media and marketing in warfare. His involvement with the 1st SU(V) in California is under the aegis of the US Department of Defense, Office of Net Assessment Office of Net Assessment under Andrew Marshall
de Caro is also working on a project similar to the original AEROBUREAU concept called S.A.G.E. (Se Air Ground Evaluations) designed for rapid damage assessment and communications in large scale disasters.
Honors & Attributes
As a result of his work on SOFTWAR, Mr. de Caro was made an Honorary Member of the U.S. Army’s Psychological Operations Regiment in 2008 by order of the Secretary of the Army. He is a life-member of the Air Force Association, and has been a featured speaker at its annual Air and Space Conference and Technology Exhibition. He is also a member of the OSS Society and the National Rifle Association.
A chapter of the book, The Next World War by James Adams describes de Caro’s strategic thesis and style of instruction at the NDU, while the article “Winning CNN Wars” by Frank Stech in the US Army War College Journal "Parameters" delineates more of his ideas.
Mr. de Caro's persona, described by James Adams in the book, “The Next World War” as “no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip-style and rugged, masculine looks” led speaker Gary Sharp of the Mantech International Aegis Research Corporation to describe him at a conference at Duke University’s Centre on Law, Ethics and National Security as: “...an entrepreneur, an adventurer that I'd read about in a novel somewhere…"