David Pendall, MIT Lincoln Laboratory Military Fellow,
is promoted to Colonel, U.S. Army

   The Laboratory’s Executive Officer administers the promotion

On the cold afternoon of 30 November at historic Lexington Battle Green, David W. Pendall, current MIT Lincoln Laboratory Military Fellow, was promoted to the rank of Colonel, United States Army, at a ceremony attended by family, friends, fellow military colleagues and co-workers, as well as Dr. Eric Evans, Director, and Dr. Marc Bernstein, Associate Director, of Lincoln Laboratory.

COL Pendall and familyDavid Pendall, newly promoted to Colonel in the U.S. Army, is joined at the ceremony by his wife, Sandra, and sons Andrew (left) and Matthew.

Executive Officer of the Laboratory, John Kuconis, Colonel (Ret) from the U.S. Air Force, officiated at the promotion. "This is one of the most enjoyable moments I have had as a member of the Services," said Kuconis. "Military members often have only four or five promotions in a military career, so today's ceremony is a significant milestone for Colonel Pendall."

The site of this ceremony was most appropriate for the oath Kuconis administered to the new colonel. Before the oath, BIll Mix, Commander and past Captain, of the Lexington Minuteman Company, recounted the Battle Green's history as the place where colonists made their first stand for independence from the British. Dr. Jeffrey Palmer, assistant leader of the Bioengineering Systems and Technologies Group in which COL Pendall has been working, noted that holding the promotion ceremony on the Battle Green "was more than an acknowledgment of the historical significance of the first armed conflict in our fight for liberty. The emotion, patriotism, and sacrifice of militia and their families, as recounted by a local re-enactor and historian, were only exceeded by the story of COL Pendall's several tours of service overseas."

Bill Mix, Minuteman CompanyBill Mix of the Lexington Minuteman Company, related the history of the Lexington Battle Green for attendees of the promotion ceremony.

In promotion ceremonies, the administration of the oath is followed by the proclamation of the promotion order and the pinning on of the rank insignia. Colonel Kirk Dorr, U.S. Army, read the proclamation, and COL Pendall's sons, Matthew and Andrew, and his wife, Sandra, carried out the pinning. Kuconis told the 30 attendees that it is very fitting for family members to be involved in the ceremony because they too make sacrifices that go along with an officer's service to protect our nation.

COL Pendall concurred with that assessment: "I am happy that it was considered a family event, as my wife has done so much to support me and raise our boys over the last few years, often without me at home. The ceremony was a very special event for the Pendall family as a whole, and in the absence of my parents, the group of supporters I saw at the ceremony were what made it extra special."

"It was heartening to see the group of people that came out to play a part in the event. It felt great to know the promotion is a validation of the commitment and service to the Army that Dave has made," said Mrs. Pendall. "We are ready for continuing in this Army career and we're excited to see where it takes us next!" she added, referring to the family's living abroad during some of the colonel's European assignments.

COL Pendall's sons pin his insignia on his uniform. COL Pendall's sons, Matthew (left) and Andrew, pin the rank insignia on his uniform.

Colonel Pendall's Work at Lincoln Laboratory 
As a military fellow working under the Army War College Fellowship Program, in conjunction with the MIT Security Studies Program, COL Pendall, who served as a Senior Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan and the G2 (intelligence officer) of the First Cavalry Division, has been investigating the application of biometrics and forensic technology as they relate to national security. "Essentially, I am looking at the range of biometric technologies and their evolution, and evaluating the advances likely in the technologies and compare them to established policy or privacy laws. From this, I will make recommendations to the DoD [Department of Defense] policy community to address any misalignment where the technology and capability may be restricted in actual use due to legal or policy issues."

"Additionally, the director has encouraged me to work with groups across the Lab to share operational perspectives I have gained in my career as an intelligence officer and through several deployments," said Pendall. "The Lab has a superior position in that it has eight divisions looking across some of the most important advances in technology and works as a partner with DoD, Homeland Security, FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], and other interagency partners. In that, the warfighter benefits from having a national laboratory that can apply knowledge and talent across sectors to get to the most effective answers and build capability quickly—with a full view and experience in architecture and end-to-end integration. The warfighter needs this support. I am working closely with the front office and several divisions to ensure the Army senior leadership and the Army's S&T [science and technology] community are aware of the breadth of the Lab's work and its potential value to Army futures.”

COL Pendall said that some of his most interesting experiences were in the battlespace, seeing the application of technologies by soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. "The battlespace changes quickly and technologic overmatch is what keeps our forces in the fight, protected, and effective."

He related that he and his unit regularly pulled DNA and fingerprints, collected iris images, and identified bomb makers and emplacers—and then verified their identities when they went to detain them. He also said they made use of a range of counter-improvised explosive device (IED) technologies to assure maneuverability and mobility in the face of a persistent IED threat. "The experience of working in an environment in which many teams of people rely on many teams of other people to achieve an outcome—security, protection, stabilization—is challenging and rewarding in itself because you know it matters at every level."

Edward Wack, leader of the Bioengineering and Systems Technologies Group, said, "COL Pendall's operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan brings to MIT and Lincoln an invaluable 'real-world' perspective. Whether we are debating future ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] architectures and sensors, biometric capture devices, or any number of military domains that Lincoln works in, COL Pendall keeps us grounded in assessing both whether the systems will likely work, but more importantly, what technologies will be operationally useful."

Colonel Pendall’s Background
COL Pendall's promotion comes after 22 years of commissioned service in the U.S. Army, with six operational deployments. He served eight years in Europe and has had tours in Bosnia, Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey. His assignments have included duties with NATO/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army, the U.S.-Turkey Combined Fusion Center in Ankara, Turkey, and the U.S. Army V Corps in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom).

He has been awarded the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Airborne and Air Assault wings. He has also worn the Blue Infantry Cord as a former enlisted soldier 11B Infantryman. COL Pendall holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Ohio University, a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University, and a master's degree in military art and science in theater operations from the Army Command and General Staff College/Advanced Military Studies Program. 

COL Pendall is the first Lincoln Laboratory Military Fellow to receive promotion while participating in the fellowship program. The Military Fellows Program offers tuition assistance to military officers enrolled in advanced degree programs at MIT. Two days a week, the fellows perform research at the Laboratory to complement work on their theses. The program has been successful in connecting the real-world experiences of officers from all branches of the armed services to the Laboratory's research and development on technologies to meet the needs of military personnel.

Posted December 2012

 

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