A senior United States Air Force officer is returning home to the Magnolia State where he will be joining Mississippi State University after his retirement from active service.
Ocean Springs native Maj. Gen. James O. Poss will begin his new duties as director of strategic initiatives in the High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2) at the land-grant institution in December.
"We are looking forward to having General Poss on the Mississippi State team," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development.
"His experience and expertise in a wide range of disciplines, including unmanned aerial systems and cybersecurity, will help us deepen our capacity, as well as sharpen our focus, in a number of high-priority research areas that are increasingly important to our state and the nation," he added.
In his new role, Poss will be responsible for helping to identify strategic initiatives and opportunities for the university and to assist with understanding customer priorities and needs that are aligned with MSU's capabilities in research, education and outreach programs that are best positioned to meet those needs.
"Mississippi State has some amazing programs that are of great interest to both the Department of Defense and intelligence community," Poss said.
Among significant research assets, he cited the university's National Security Agency-certified cyber defense program, a National Geospatial Agency-certified remote sensing program and one of the few unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) labs in the country.
"MSU is uniquely suited to provide research in cutting edge networked warfare and UAVs. I can see MSU leading the way to find peaceful applications for this technology," he explained.
The fifth-generation Mississippian has had a distinguished career of service, and is currently the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and is the senior career intelligence officer in the Air Force. He is responsible to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for policy formulation, planning, evaluation, oversight and leadership of Air Force ISR capabilities.
In May, he delivered the keynote address at Mississippi State's 2012 UAS Symposium: Breaking Through Barriers and Fielding the Technology, a multi-day gathering of the nation's leading experts in unmanned aerial systems from government, defense and the private sector.
"Our state is well positioned to continue to play a significant role in unmanned aerial systems research and development, as well as manufacturing, and it is one of the priority areas for research that we have established," Shaw explained.
Poss' Air Force and intelligence community background is a very strong match to opportunities available to MSU, Shaw said, noting that the general has been part of the USAF unmanned aerial vehicle program since its inception.
Additionally, he has extensive experience in remote sensing, and is one of a handful of intelligence officers to have used DOD remote sensing to support Mississippi, both after Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Poss received his commission through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the University of Southern Mississippi. He served in Desert Storm with the U.S. VII Corps RC-12 Guardrail Battalion in Saudi Arabia, and was director of intelligence for Central Command Air Forces deployed to Southwest Asia at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom. The general commanded the 488th Intelligence Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, flying RC-135s in combat during the Kosovo Air War. He has also commanded the 609th Air Intelligence Group at Shaw AFB, S.C., and 70th Intelligence Wing at Fort George G. Meade, Md.
The general has previously served as the director of intelligence at both Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Combat Command. Prior to his current assignment, he was Director, ISR Strategy, Integration and Doctrine, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.
"Most of my experience has been focused on cryptologic operations, and I have spent much of my career working for or with the National Security Agency," Poss said.
He believes that NSA will provide Mississippi State many additional opportunities in cyber research and education.
Mississippi State's HPC2 is a coalition of member centers and groups that share a common core objective of advancing the state-of-the-art in computational science and engineering using high performance computing; a common approach to research that embraces a multi-disciplinary, team-oriented concept; and a commitment to a full partnership between education, research and service.
The Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, Center for Battlefield Innovation, Center for Computational Sciences, Geosystems Research Institute, Northern Gulf Institute and Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology are HPC2 members.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see www.msstate.edu.