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TechNet Asia-Pacific: Intelligence Challenges Require Commercial Innovation

November 4, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Intelligence officers in the Pacific theater have seen the future, and it is commercial. That was a point driven home by the opening panel in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2008, now under way in Honolulu, Hawaii. The J-2 panel focused on intelligence challenges, and panelists cited the need for commercial technologies and capabilities to fulfill intelligence sharing needs across diverse coalitions and partnerships.

And diversity was the name of the game in a pair of recent operations, both of which entailed disaster relief. After Burma/Myanmar was struck by a typhoon, the United States offered emergency relief to the devastated country. The Burmese government, not normally on good relations with the United States, nonetheless requested and received commercial remote sensing imagery from the United States.

China also was victimized by a natural disaster this past year-the massive earthquake that struck shortly before the Beijing Olympics. China sought-and also received-situation awareness information, some of which again was in the form of commercial imagery.

Panel moderator Thomas McNamara, the deputy J-2 with the U.S. Pacific Command, noted the irony in the United States' sharing intelligence with Burma and China, especially given the troubled relations the United States has had with the two Asian nations.

The panelists agreed on the value of using commercial satellite imagery for information sharing. Other commercial capabilities that are playing an increasingly important role in that activity are open-source information  and the Internet-particularly Google News, which was cited by Col. Joe Wheeler, USMC, G-2, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific.

Monday afternoon panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific
TechNet Asia-Pacific's opening panel featured (l-r) Tim Phillips, NII Maritime Domain Awareness; Brian Fila, Defense Intelligence Agency representative to the U.S. Pacific Command; Russ Horton, transformation official, U.S. Forces Korea; Col. Joe Wheeler, USMC, G-2, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific; and panel moderator Thomas McNamara, deputy J-2, U.S. Pacific Command.

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