May 15, 2021

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Highlight: NCITE board member Rik Legault | Nationwide Counterterrorism Innovation, Engineering, and Instruction Middle (NCITE)

Rik Legault has a great deal of titles.

Criminologist. DHS S&T senior advisor. NCITE board member. U.S. Navy veteran. U.S. Air Nationwide Guard medic.

This last title will acquire Legault from the D.C. spot to California for 4 to 5 months.

Setting up in January, Legault will command a unit at Travis Air Power Foundation that will transportation critically unwell Us residents suffering from COVID-19 who are stranded abroad or in rural U.S. regions to urban hospitals wherever they can get dealt with. The U.S. Air Pressure has outfitted specialised isolation units on cargo planes, prioritizing U.S. armed forces assistance customers to start with and some others as the unit can take care of.

It’s just the most current way that Legault is doing the job to keep People safe and sound.

Like a lot of in the comparatively youthful Division of Homeland Security, Legault’s profession route began somewhere else. In his scenario, the son of French-Canadian immigrants began his profession on a ship.

Legault (pronounced Le-GO) served as a Navy mechanic in the Persian Gulf throughout Procedure Desert Storm. Even though on patrol in the Purple Sea, the bilingual Legault was tapped to support a multinational maritime group for the reason that he could communicate French. Downtime in the ocean in the pre-smartphone era, gave him time to read, as he set it, “voraciously.” He left the Navy following six years, and went to college at age 24, learning sociology and political science.

Legault also then joined the New York Air National Guard. He was both medic and scholar, completing graduate school at the University of Albany in New York, exactly where he bought his doctorate in criminology.

Legault taught felony justice. A Countrywide Science Foundation and DHS analysis job put him at a then-new DHS Centre of Excellence (COE): the College of Maryland’s Research of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Commence) Centre, where he did write-up-doctoral exploration.

In 2009, Legault went to do the job for DHS in the Science & Technological innovation Directorate. There he has labored to bolster social sciences potential in avoiding terrorism. Legault’s part is to assistance give suggestions, shape policy, and enable lawmakers tackle significant inquiries about countering terrorism and targeted violence.

DHS has advanced due to the fact its generation. So has the collective comprehension of terrorism, as earlier and loosely defined as outsiders looking for to damage the U.S. But the authentic question stays the very same: What to do about it to keep People risk-free?

Locating an reply is a frequent problem, Legault reported. Science, by its nature, lags driving fast societal alterations and reactions. Government, too, Legault said, moves slowly.

That makes dealing with a adjusted risk landscape in which “terrorists,” who could induce hurt within the U.S., are probable to act primarily based on particular grievances as very well as spiritual, political, or ideological motives. As a substitute of currently being skilled at some camp, they could possibly be radicalizing from their good phones or properties, consuming extensive quantities of on-line info that condition their thoughts and potentially their actions.

This will make the risk all the extra vexing and significantly more difficult to counter.

Which is why Legault sees the social sciences as so important in being familiar with who the aggrieved are, how their behaviors and feelings get shaped and radicalized on the web, particularly by misinformation and disinformation, and how to stop them from taking violent action although retaining the cherished particular person legal rights enshrined in the U.S. and western democracies.

“This is a real and hard problem to tackle,” Legault explained.

The dilemma is built even tougher adhering to 1 of the most tough yrs the U.S. has professional with the COVID-19 pandemic and politicization of community overall health, the bitter presidential election, and the entre of as soon as-fringe ideological groups and social media stores.

COEs therefore turn out to be an even more important useful resource because researchers can deep-dive into thorny challenges, he stated. Legault sees excellent opportunity in rising collaboration involving COEs like the Nationwide Counterterrorism Innovation, Technologies, and Schooling (NCITE) and DHS. With the University of Maryland’s Start out and the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s NCITE, Legault sees complementary roles and a great deal of operate for all fingers.

“The extra men and women that are intrinsically inspired to look for complicated difficulties and methods that broaden the access (to research), the greater off we are,” he claimed. 

Legault’s navy, tutorial, and government titles spot him in a distinctive place to provide as translator, connecting these different sectors to the singular function of countering violence. 

He’s not daunted by the issue. 

His earlier has taught him that major troubles aren’t neatly solved by massive solutions but are fairly a collection of scaled-down troubles that can be met with more focused techniques by asking questions like: How might we make people a minimal a lot more resilient to disinformation? How do we give people today the resources and gear to not obtain into points that are not correct? What sorts of person interventions are powerful for a youthful individual getting motivated by violence?

“It’s a great deal of minor particulars,” he said.

Legault believes NCITE can enable drill into these. He would like NCITE to be thriving and will have a part in that accomplishment most directly as board member. His other titles link about the mission of protection. The one that will consider immediate priority now is Device Commander.