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Share and Share Alike

October 7, 2011
By Beverly Schaeffer

Sharing is a magic word when it comes to NATO member nations pooling technology resources. Nine alliance countries plan to integrate abilities so that one hand knows what the other is doing-or what it's capable of doing-in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). This is taking place through the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency's Multi-sensor Aerospace-ground Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Interoperability Coalition 2 (MAJIIC 2) project. The aim, says George I. Seffers in his article "NATO Works MAJIIC Again" in this issue of SIGNAL Magazine, is for NATO to achieve seamless cooperation by 2016. NATO officials say it won't be easy. Despite progress, NATO leaders say current availability of sensitive data looks grim. Commanders don't often know which info-gathering systems are available from other nations; some nations might be collecting data already gathered by another; and some are still reluctant to relinquish control over info. Sean Midwood, MAJIIC 2 deputy program manager, logged time with the International Security Assistance Force, offering his perspective:

I can say there is no lack of assets. It's just that nobody knows where the assets are [or] about all the different unmanned aerial vehicles they have from a coalition perspective. Individual nations know what they have, but there are air space management issues.

MAJIIC 2 is the five-year follow-on to the original five-year MAJIIC project that evolved from during Bosnia operations. The original MAJIIC enabled NATO nations to share full-motion video for monitoring enemy activity. Countries involved in MAJIIC 2 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each vows to improve sharing of expensive ISR assets. MAJIIC 2 will improve effectiveness, enabling NATO to do more with less by allowing commanders greater access to readily deployable ISR assets. It's about providing individual technologies and about training and developing joint standard operating procedures. The first step already has taken MAJIIC into Afghanistan. Steps two and three will embed MAJIIC technologies and processes into the NATO enterprise so the project's results become routine. In the former process, intel officials would brief the commander first. Then other leaders would offer briefings. Other officials were rarely allowed to know what intelligence officers knew. But according to Midwood, those metaphorical walls between functions are crumbling:

By 2016, the capabilities won't be seen as intelligence. Warfighters will literally just reach out and grab the information. They will know it has been validated and won't care where it came from.

 

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