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It's Not About the Data

March 28, 2012
By George Seffers

In the intelligence business, it's common for people to think everything is all about the data, when really it's about getting the data to the warfighter, said Phillip Chudoba, assistant director of intelligence for the U.S. Marine Corps, at AFCEA's TechNet Land Forces Southwest 2012.

"In the Marine Corps, it's not all about the data. In the Marine Corps, it's about the Marines operating in the battlespace. The data is foundational information ... that has to get to that lethal lance corporal who is roaming the battlespace killing people who need to be killed right now. Our job is to increase that lance corporal's lethality and survivability by what we do across the network," he said. "Data as an end hasn't worked for us. Data is a means to an end, meaning heavy warfighter engagement, heavy warfighter focus in all that we do is really the way we want to attack the problem."

Chudoba stressed the need for intelligence innovation, stating bluntly, "We can do better."

He insisted that intelligence is different because it enjoys high-ranking support and a lot of clout. "There's no undersecretary of defense for artillery. So, we feel like we're empowered to do things a little differently" from the artillery guys, he said.

Still, the community does a poor job taking advantage of technological opportunities and needs to take an "entrepreneurial, opportunistic approach" to defense acquisition and get away from the traditional approach , "which goes something like this: requirements, wait and then surprise. Maybe it hits, maybe it doesn't."

But the more traditional acquisition community resists innovative approaches. There's a lot of suspicion, he says, that "guys like me are going to operate like cowboys and run around half-naked," essentially hiding activities behind the cloak of secrecy. "I don't think so. We're smart enough not to do that. We're taxpayers ourselves, and we're going to be good stewards of the resources."

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