July 14, 2023

On June 9th, SPIA alumnus and former Program in Religion, Diplomacy, and International Relations (PORDIR) fellow at the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD), Johnathan Falcone’19, received the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement by the Navy League of the United States. The award is presented annually to "a U.S. Navy officer, U.S. Marine Corps officer, enlisted service member, or civilian who has made a notable literary contribution that has advanced the knowledge of the importance of sea power in the United States." Falcone is currently a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in the United States Navy.

The award ceremony, held in Dallas at the Navy League's National Convention, highlighted LCDR Falcone's public critiques of unmanned surface vessels and cyber vulnerabilities of autonomous systems. Additionally, while serving as Chief Engineer in the Littoral Combat Ship program, Falcone authored two class-wide advisories that have enhanced engineering resiliency within the fleet, demonstrating his commitment to practical solutions and operational effectiveness.

LCDR Falcone's written work has also shed light on the critical importance of engineering control system security, an emerging concern as mechanical systems become ever-more reliant on operational technology networks. His contributions have raised awareness and fostered discussions that will shape future naval operations.

During his time at SPIA and LISD, Falcone worked closely with Founding Director Wolfgang Danspeckgruber. “Johnathan was a truly outstanding member of his PORDIR cohort, and a special student of mine. He worked diligently on making a real contribution to the seminar while always being an excellent team player and active member of the LISD community” Danspeckgruber said. LCDR Falcone conducted original research on emerging technology, religious values, and humanitarian contributions which culminated in the presentation of his paper “Towards Halal Cryptocurrency: Acknowledging Religious Values in Developing Technology” at the PORDIR Colloquium on “Religion and Cyber” at the Holy See in 2018.

Since graduating from SPIA, LCDR Falcone has published over a dozen articles on emerging technologies and national security in outlets that include War on the RocksThe Star-LedgerBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Military Review, among others. He has also contributed a chapter to the upcoming edited volume Cyber and Navies, to be published by the United States Naval Institute Press this fall.

Established in 1957, the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award is named after the renowned American lecturer in naval history and the President of the US Naval War College. Previous recipients include esteemed individuals such as Tom Clancy and Admiral James Stavridis (ret.).

PORDIR Student Fellows in Rome, Italy

Johnathan Falcone’19 (first from top left) with PORDIR Student Fellows and LISD Founding Director Wolfgang Danspeckgruber in June 2018 in Rome, Italy. Photo Credit: Richard Trenner, 2018.