About RAIN Research Group

Researching the AI Nexus in the Defense sector

RAIN+ is a niche international research firm providing the latest on AI + Defense.
We cover market intelligence, data analytics, ethics and global news.
Our three Divisions – Industry, Ethics, Data – work in synergy to provide a unique and specialised source on AI + Defense

Our story

RAIN+ Research Group was founded by Norine MacDonald KC. After a number of years of international field work in the security and defense sector, her research now focuses on the intersection of AI and the defense sector. At RAIN+ she is joined by a group of like-minded experts united in their recognition of the critical importance of the AI revolution in contemporary warfare.

Who we are

We are subject matter experts and field researchers, with a deep interest in both data analysis and advocacy.  Our core team has decades of international work together on global policy issues. We have a shared interest in global citizenship, design, and the importance of both humour and dogs in our daily lives. Our team is based in Brazil, France, Spain, UAE, the US and the UK. RAIN Research is an international company incorporated in Virginia, USA.

RAIN+ Industry

Business intelligence on AI + Defense

The character of war is changing. RAIN+ Industry reports are essential for defense sector leaders. As militaries around the world adapt to the AI Revolution, our reports provide a multi-dimensional view of AI impacts. We map the AI ecosystem, benchmark and evaluate capabilities of platforms and systems. We track trends to help you stay ahead of the curve on the impacts of AI.

RAIN+ Industry reports offer actionable insights and market trend analysis to help decision makers reach critical decisions. Based on data-driven research, our reports offer vital intelligence and analytics for businesses and investors.

RAIN+ Data

RAIN+ Data offers a unique data mix in a specialised structure. Using our NEXUS proprietary methodology we benchmark and map trends to provide unique insights into the economic and geopolitical dynamics of the AI Revolution. We look for both larger industrial and geo-political trends and granular relationships which will allow us to extract new insights in market analysis and tech evolutions affecting the defense sector.

RAIN+ Bespoke

RAIN+ undertakes specialised data research and analysis projects. Customised to your exact requirements, RAIN+ Bespoke provides you with the research intelligence you need, when you need it.

THE WHO'S WHO SERIES: THE RAIN 500

The WHO’S WHO SERIES – THE RAIN 500 maps key players, institutions and companies in AI + Defense. Divided into regions, the first edition in the series covers people to watch in the US, with other reports to follow.

RAIN+ Ethics

A global observatory on AI + Defense

AI is revolutionising the defense sector, provoking a debate of seismic importance, sparking a reexamination of the ethics of war. RAIN+ Ethics disentangles the political, legal and ethical arguments of the impacts and implications of AI and emerging technologies. We map the landscape of stakeholders and regulatory initiatives to support leaders and decision makers as they navigate the challenges of the AI Revolution.

About the Team

Headshot Norine MacDonald

Norine MacDonald KC

President and Founder

Norine MacDonald KC is President and Founder of RAIN+ Research Group.

She was formerly President and Founder of The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), an international security and development, a think tank founded in 2002 with offices in Kabul, London, Rio de Janeiro, Brussels and Paris, and field offices in the Afghan cities of Lashkar Gah and Kandahar City.

Ms MacDonald is Former Visiting Distinguished Fellow at National Defense University. Her research focus is on issues related to the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and the defense and intelligence sector.  Specific research interests include mapping the Artificial Intelligence for defense and intelligence innovation ecosystem, with a view to providing policy insight for decision makers, as well as global mapping of this sector. In 2020 MacDonald authored, ‘Killing Me Softly: Competition in Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles‘ with George Howell.

She graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management in Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy in September 2020.

In 2018 MacDonald was awarded the US Department of the Army Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service and also in 2018, she received the Distinguished Public Service Medal for exceptional service to the United States Army.

George Howell

Director of RAIN+ Industry

George Howell is Director of RAIN+ Industry.

Howell previously worked for The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), conducting research into the Afghanistan security context.

In 2008 he helped establish The Centre for Excellence on Public Security in Rio de Janeiro, a think tank working to bring together policy makers, operational law enforcement officers and independent experts, for dialogues towards generating innovative solutions to complex Public Security issues.

In 2013, George Howell led a project to develop endogenous community responses to childhood violence, and worked with children in the local school and community leaders, on income generation and public space interventions in the Favela of Formiga.

Howell co-authored a paper for National Defense University’ PRISM Magazine ‘Singularity’ issue with Norine MacDonald QC, President + Founder of RAIN. Published in January 2020, ‘Killing Me Softly: Competition in Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ explored the use of artificial intelligence in military uncrewed aerial vehicles. 

Dr. Jorrit Kamminga

Director of RAIN+ Ethics

Jorrit Kamminga is Director of RAIN+ Ethics. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Clingendael Institute. Dr. Kamminga brings two decades of experience working on the nexus between security and development, with a special focus on Afghanistan and Colombia. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Valencia, Spain.

He was previously Director of Research of The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), conducting field research in central, southern and western Afghanistan.

Emmanuel Reinert

Business Advisor

Emmanuel Reinert is Business Advisor to RAIN+ Research Group, supporting the strategic development of the organisation. Emmanuel has many years of leadership in a range of fields including corporate business development, security, defense and intelligence.

Peter Wilcox

Researcher

Peter Wilcox is a Researcher for RAIN+ Industry and the DIrector of RAIN+ Data, which aggregates and analyses data in the sectors of AI + defense. With a technical background, Peter is an IT specialist and data analyst with more than 20 years of experience in his field.  

Larein Zhang

Senior Researcher

Larein Zhang is a Researcher for RAIN+ Industry and also supports the RAIN+ Data team. She graduated from Cardiff University with an MA in International Journalism and previously worked for Nielsen as an analyst in Consumer Insights. 

Ajna_Hadrovic

Ajna Hadrovic

Design

Ajna Hadrovic is a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience. After graduating in Graphic Design from the Sarajevo School of Applied Arts, she continued her art education at the Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 2015. Her wide range of interests include photography, fine art painting and sculpture, graphic design, copyright and intellectual property in art.  In 2017 she was a guest lecturer at Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo on the topic of Copyright and Intellectual property in Fine Art. To create the RAIN style and visual identity, Ajna was inspired and influenced by expressive artistic elements in combination with technology patterns. Works of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock and his action paintings, Wassily Kandinsky with his exploration of abstract form in space, and Piet Mondrian grids, influenced the creation of visuals. The abstract expressionism in the RAIN style makes reference to the human aspect of AI. 

Our Advisors

General John W Nicholson Jr. US Army (Retired)

General John W Nicholson Jr.

US Army (Retired)

With over 36 years of active duty service, General John Nicholson’s six years deployed in Afghanistan make him one of America’s most combat seasoned four-star generals.

He led the 41- nation NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces-Afghanistan for two and a half years. His leadership and close relations with Afghan leaders were key to brokering the first ceasefire in the 17-year war and helped enable the launch of the current peace initiative.

During his four assignments in NATO as a general officer, he developed close effective relationships with the security leadership of US Allies and Coalition partners. He has commanded units at all levels from company command in the 75th Ranger Regiment to division command of the 82nd Airborne Division and command of NATO’s Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey.

Following retirement from active duty in November 2018, General Nicholson became the President of the PENFED Foundation which supports U.S. veterans, service members and their families. He is an Adjunct Faculty member on leadership with Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School and is a member of Harvard’s Belfer Center ‘Elbe Group’ which sustains a Track Two dialogue between retired American and Russian senior officials in the military and intelligence fields. He is also a senior mentor to rising US general officers through the National Defense University CAPSTONE and PINNACLE programs and a frequent speaker to military and academic audiences globally on leadership and security issues. He has a Lab + Retriever cross named WestPoint.

Headshot General Bingham

Lieutenant General Gwen Bingham

US Army (Retired)

Lieutenant General (LTG) Gwen Bingham is a US Army retired 3-star General and a native of Troy, Alabama. She graduated from Army ROTC as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Alabama in August 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and Business Administration. She was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. Lieutenant General Bingham has a Master’s degree in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Master’s degree in National Security Strategy and Resources from the National Defense University.

LTG (R) Bingham deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan in April 2010 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. She has been a trailblazer serving as the first woman to hold numerous positions as a General Officer. They include: The Army’s 51st Quartermaster General and Commandant of the US Army Quartermaster School; Commanding General, White Sands Missile Range; and Commanding General, Tank-automotive and Armaments Life Cycle Management Command.  On 30 June 2016, she was confirmed by the Senate for promotion to Lieutenant General and assignment in the Pentagon as the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management. 

LTG (R) Bingham’s professional affiliations include:  Council on Foreign Relations, member; National Association of Corporate Directors; Blue Star Families Board of Directors (Vice-Chair); Owens and Minor, Incorporated Board of Directors; Military Child Education Coalition, Life Member; Association of the United States Army, Life Member; ROCKS, Incorporated, Life Member; and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Life Member.

LTG (R) Bingham was named a 2021 “CNN Champion for Change” and is the recipient of the 2019 White House Correspondents “Be Fearless” Award; the 2019 Joint Women’s Leadership in Excellence Meritorious Service Award; the 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the 2018 Women in Defense Service to the Flag award and the 2014 Rock of the Year award. She and her husband, Dr. Patrick J. Bingham, have two adult children: Dr. Tava M. Bingham and Mr. Phillip J. Bingham.  She is the President and CEO of P B J & G, LLC and resides with her husband in Austin, Texas. 

Lieutenant General Giles Hill

British Army (Retired)

Giles Hill served for 35 years in the British Army and is one of the UK’s most experienced operational leaders.

Commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst into the Parachute Regiment he has held command positions from 2LT to 3-Star General and served on every major operational mission the UK has conducted in the last three decades, including multiple tours in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He commanded the British Army’s Ranger Regiment equivalent, the UK’s 16 Air Assault Brigade and the 25,000 strong UK 1st Division. He also served 2 years as the first UK Deputy Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division and co-led the UK-FR Combined Joint Expeditionary Force. His last appointment was as the Deputy Commander of the International Coalition in Afghanistan from 2019-2021

He has extensive cross-government, inter-agency, international policy and strategy experience. He has worked in US CENTCOM and in the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters on operational policy and plans. For three years as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff he led the UK MOD’s International Policy and Plans teams for the Middle East, Africa, Asia, South America, Latin America and the Caribbean. In this role he was responsible for developing the UK’s regional defence policies and plans and the UK’s International Defence Engagement Strategy.

He has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service, the CBE in 2014, the CB in 2020 and the US Legion of Merit in 2021 for his leadership.

Following retirement from active duty in December 2021 he now runs an international consultancy business as well as providing advice to the boards of several public and private sector organisations. He is a frequent speaker to international military and academic audiences on security and leadership issues.

General Joseph Lengyel, USAF (Ret'd)

General Joseph L. Lengyel

US Air Force (Retired)

General Lengyel retired from the Air Force as a four-star General. His final military assignment was as the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, where he also served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he was a military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council and was the Department of Defense’s official channel of communication to the Governors and the State Adjutants General on all matters pertaining to the National Guard. As the most senior National Guard Officer in the nation, Lengyel was responsible to oversee the $28B Army and Air National Guard budgets making sure 450K members of the National Guard were trained and ready across the spectrum of all National Guard military capabilities.

Lengyel was commissioned in 1981 as a graduate of the ROTC program at the
University of North Texas in Denton. He served in the United States and around the world, primarily as an F-16 Fighter Pilot. In 1991, General Lengyel joined the Texas Air National Guard and simultaneously started a civilian career as a pilot for Delta Air Lines. General Lengyel held multiple commands in complex environments. Prior to serving at the National Guard Bureau, Lengyel was the Senior Defense Official and Defense Attache in Cairo, Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Lengyel received an MBA from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He mentors new startups at the Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. He Chairs the Board of Directors of the Cohen Veterans Network and is on the Board of Directors of the Space Force Association. He is an Executive in Residence at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and he is providing services as a consultant for several clients.

Major General Robin Fontes

US Army (Retired)

Major General Robin Fontes retired from the United States Army after almost 35 years of service. She most recently served as the Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Cyber Command where she was responsible for synchronising cyberspace operations in pursuit of Department of Defense and Army strategic priorities. As a General Officer, she also served as the Commander of the multi-national Combined Security Transition Command overseeing the training and equipping the army and police, and advising senior leaders in the Ministries of Defense, Interior and Finance in Afghanistan.

Over the course of her career, Robin commanded several units in Afghanistan and held several senior policy and US Embassy diplomatic positions focusing on US relations with the countries of South and Central Asia and with our NATO and Coalition partners. She is recognised as an accomplished soldier-diplomat and as leader with strategic vision able to navigate complex and sensitive diplomatic issues.

Fontes is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point (BS), the University of Washington (MA International Studies), and the National War College (MS National Security Strategy). She was also a post-graduate research fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University.

Lieutenant General Olivier Tramond

French Army (Retired)

With 38 years of service in the French Army, Olivier Tramond has served in a wide range of military roles, including operations, intelligence, strategy, and long-term planning. His experience includes multiple tours overseas, ranging from the Middle East, the Balkans and Sub-Saharan Africa to the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. He served in all ranks in Airborne Infantry combat units. As Colonel, he was commanding the 3 rd Airborne Marine Regiment, and as Brigadier General was French Joint Commander South Pacific.

Tramond has also held various national political-military roles. He advised the French Minister of Defense, oversaw the cross-government counter terrorism planning in the French Prime Minister’s office, the NSA equivalent, and led the French Army TRADOC.

Upon military retirement in 2015, he held various positions in the private sector, advising French and US defense tech companies. In the non-profit sector, Tramond has been Co-chair of The First Alliance, an American foundation dedicated to the US-French military alliance. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the American Battle Monuments Foundation.

A graduate from the Saint-Cyr Academy and the French War College, Tramond also holds a degree from the US Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. Currently he is Associate Researcher of the Geopolitics Center of the top French business school HEC.

For his military service, Tramond has been awarded Commander of the Legion of Honor.

Our Support Team

WestPoint

Picture of a dog

Moki

Maximus

Photo of a cat

Bodhi

Picture of a dog

Vida

“It is impossible to forget a dog, that gave us so much to remember.”

Ruby

Picture of a cat

Luna

Lt. Gen. Olivier Tramond (Ret.)

Advisor

Lt. Gen. Olivier Tramond (Ret.)

With 38 years of service in the French army, Olivier Tramond has served in a wide range of military roles, including in operations, intelligence, strategy and long term planning. His military experience includes multiple tours overseas, ranging from the Middle East, the Balkans and Sub-Saharan Africa to the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific. He served in various ranks in Airborne Infantry units. As Colonel, he was commanding the 3rd Airborne Marine Regiment, and as Brigadier General, the French Joint Commander in the South Pacific.

Tramond has also held various national political-military roles. He advised the French Minister of Defense, supported the French Prime Minister’s office on the topic of cross-government counter terrorism planning, and led the French Army TRADOC.

Upon military retirement in 2015, he held various advisory positions in the private sector, including for the French company Safran Electronics & Defense and the American company Fenix. Since October 2021, he is a Strategic Advisor for European Defense to the American AI company Dataminr. He is also an advisor to the educational project Tribute to the Heroes, which is dedicated to the 1944 Normandy campaign.

In the non-profit sector, Tramond has been Co-chair of The First Alliance, an American foundation dedicated to the American-French military alliance. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the American Battle Monuments Foundation and member of the Board of the Society of the Cincinnati of France.

A graduate from the Saint-Cyr Academy and the French War College, Tramond also holds a degree from the US Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. He currently teaches defense strategy at Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies and the French business school HEC.

For his military service, Tramond has been awarded Commander of the Legion of Honor, Commander of the National Order of Merit, the Military Value Cross with 3 stars and the Combatant Cross.