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Defense Intelligence Charts Course

August 2005
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

 
The Joint Warfighting Center at the U.S. Joint Forces Command manages and integrates joint-capable models and simulations. The command’s director of integration and interoperability is a member of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Integration Council, which discusses the best ways to coordinate intelligence-gathering assets.
Integration council and road map lead the way for coordinating intelligence efforts.

The U.S. Defense Department has designed a road map that plots the objectives and investment strategy for its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission area. Although the road map’s cartographers believe the document itself is an accomplishment, the process has been a voyage of discovery as well. It was the first major project of a new integration council that impelled intelligence community representatives to exchange perspectives and hash out the beginnings of a unified approach to meeting their requirements.

Congress mandated the creation of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Roadmap as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2004. The act directed the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD-I) to develop a comprehensive plan to guide the development and integration of Defense Department ISR capabilities for fiscal years 2004 through 2018. It also called for the creation of the ISR Integration Council that, along with the Director of Central Intelligence, would contribute to the design of the road map as well as would continually address ISR integration and coordination issues.

Kevin Meiners contends that both the council and the road map yielded and will continue to yield a multitude of benefits for the Defense Department and the intelligence community. Meiners is the director of intelligence strategies, technologies and assessments, Office of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Warfighting Support, an organization that falls under the auspices of the OUSD-I. His office was responsible for creating the road map.

The ISR Integration Council brings all of the senior intelligence decision makers together so productive discussions can take place; the inaugural road map, referred to either as PB06 for Presidential Budget 06 or Version 0, “snaps the chalk line” by providing an inventory of ISR assets available today, enabling leaders to ask the right questions, he explains.

Although Version 0 focuses on providing a comprehensive inventory of ISR assets, chapter three of the road map outlines six fundamental transformational strategic goals: converge and recapitalize the Defense Department’s capabilities; attain persistent surveillance; achieve horizontal integration of intelligence information; capitalize on a collaborative network-centric distributed operations infrastructure; transform ISR management capabilities; and operationalize intelligence.

“We were trying to craft more of a story and a message that says we’re moving away from, say, the reconnaissance paradigm to that persistent surveillance paradigm and let’s look at what we’re buying and see if that really does accomplish where we’re trying to go,” Meiners says. “When it gets to sharing information, we’re trying to paint the picture of horizontal integration—being able to discover data, access it and understand it. While the road map gives visibility to the different services and agencies about where the various programs are going, we tried to construct it in terms of the leadership role by crafting a message of where the Office of the Secretary of Defense would like to see us going in the future. We tried to craft that base and the strategic objectives so that people can focus their investments to get where we’re going.”

The department has identified seven items that will enable it to attain these objectives. Among them are a network-centric data strategy, wideband satellite communications, the Joint Tactical Radio System and information assurance.

“The road map has helped us in terms of outlining where we want to focus our studies and analyses,” Meiners says. To pursue persistent surveillance, for example, the director of program analysis and evaluation (PA&E) and the Joint Staff would assess current baseline capabilities to determine how well they support this particular goal. In fact, Meiners allows, this is precisely the topic of the next PA&E study.

But the direction outlined in the road map is only part of the Defense Department’s intelligence community breakthrough. Although the section of the authorization act that called for the formation of the ISR Integration Council is brief, the group that it established has been phenomenal, Meiners declares. The congressionally directed action required that the council comprise senior intelligence officers from the armed forces, U.S. Special Operations Command, the Joint Staff’s director of operations and the directors of the Defense Department’s intelligence agencies. In addition, it required the undersecretary of defense for intelligence to invite either the director of central intelligence or his representative to participate in council proceedings. These are the statutory members of the council.

However, because of his experience with working on councils in the past, Dr. Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, decided to add to the roster, Meiners explains. “Dr. Cambone realized that if you’re going to make decisions on a lot of these programs, you’ve got to have the PA&E involved. And because a lot of the intelligence programs have to do with communications and net centricity, he invited the NII [networks and information integration] folks to join the council,” he says.

In addition, Cambone asked the Joint Staff’s Intelligence Directorate and Force Structure, Resources and Assessments Directorate—the J-2 and J-8—to participate. He also added representatives from the U.S. Joint Forces Command and the U.S. Strategic Command to the roster of members because their responsibilities include developing future capabilities. Representatives from the offices of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy also are council members.

Meiners notes that these intelligence leaders have not gathered as a group in the past because the meetings were difficult to arrange. ISR Integration Council meetings are facilitated through videoconferencing, which reduces travel time for some participants. The current plan is to convene monthly.

“It started off a little slow, but we’ve got all the right players sitting around a table. And, I’ve got to tell you that when you get everybody in one room, and you talk about an issue, it really helps them try to resolve the issue quickly,” Meiners states. Although decisions are not made during the council meeting itself, the group’s members take concerns, questions and ideas to their respective organizations and facilitate a final decision, he maintains.

 
The U.S. Air Force has turned to industry to find better ways to integrate their systems in their air and space operations centers worldwide. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, SAIC, IBM, L-3 Communications and a number of other firms comprise one of the teams competing for the contract, which is scheduled to be awarded later this year. The technologies they create would fill the gaps between intelligence and operations efforts.
The policy regarding language proficiency requirements is one example of how meeting as a group expedites decision making. The National Security Agency requires each military service to provide linguists qualified at a 3/3 proficiency level, the highest grade for speaking/listening language tests. During an ISR Integration Council meeting, senior intelligence officers from each service questioned Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, USAF, the agency’s director at the time, about why the requirement stipulated such a high language proficiency level. They also suggested that linguists with average proficiency could be moved into the field where they would hone their skills in operations centers.

“It was a great discussion,” Meiners states. “Instead of saying, ‘I want to have guys coming out of the Defense Language Institute as 3/3 qualified,’ it was a good give-and-take and negotiation about where they wanted to go. And, we had a PA&E guy there, and he was able to take all that information and write that into a program budget decision and apply the funds to make it happen.”

The ISR Roadmap aims at facilitating this same type of well-informed discussion on a broader scale. Two of the pre-eminent features of the road map are the clarity it offers about current ISR assets and programs and its brevity, Meiners says. “Congress basically said to the Defense Department, ‘you need to fully integrate and coordinate the different services and agencies.’ When you provide a visualization tool that shows what the baseline capabilities are, it gives senior decision makers the ability to ask good—like laser beam—questions,” he states. Ultimately, these questions can lead to answers that improve the coordination of programs and integration of ISR assets, he adds.

Although the defense authorization act set a September 30, 2004, deadline for the road map’s delivery to congressional committees, Meiners explains that his office discussed the timeline with the congressionally directed action authors, who agreed that it would be more prudent to create a road map based on information that was more current than fiscal year 2005. As a result, the deadline was changed to May 2005, and the road map was based on fiscal year 2006 information. The comprehensive plan still covers the 2004 to 2018 timeframe—as directed by Congress.

Perhaps one of the road map’s most appealing features is its size. It condenses descriptions of current projects and presents an overview in what Meiners calls a Readers Digest version. For example, the congressional budget justification book has hundreds of pages of explanation about specific intelligence programs. Chapter four of the ISR Roadmap presents an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets overview and includes fold-out pages that feature a list of the ISR collection and ground exploitation programs. The entire chapter is only 25 pages long but allows decision makers to see all of the ISR programs and assets in context.

This format is especially helpful when staff members are briefing congressmen, Meiners points out. “In five minutes, when a congressional member or your senior guy in the Pentagon needs the information, you can say, ‘Here it is. Here’s where it fits; this is why it’s important,’” he explains.

The road map also will help the Defense Department’s intelligence agencies fulfill the congressionally directed action requirement to fully integrate and coordinate intelligence programs and assets. And, in fact, the road map has already done just that, Meiners relates. Upon examining the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) description in the road map, for example, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) saw how the Defense Department plans to integrate the different service components with the DCGS Integration Backbone (DIB). When this information is laid on top of the agency’s plans for GeoScout, one of its transformational programs, Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper Jr., USAF (Ret.), NGA director, has the data he needs to determine how his organization is going to integrate the backbone and GeoScout.

“This was one of the first pieces, one of the good news stories that came out of the ISR Roadmap. The NGA folks took a look at this visualization tool and decided they needed to be integrated with the DIB so they could have access and could discover the airborne data. They actually wrote that they will have integration between GeoScout and the DIB in their exit criteria for phase B,” Meiners shares.

The NGA was not the only intelligence organization to benefit from the ISR Roadmap. The cryptologic mission management (CMM) system is one of the National Security Agency’s transformational programs. By reviewing the road map, agency personnel could see the planning strategies for the DCGS and the Joint Functional Component Command for ISR (JFCC ISR) and could effectively evaluate whether the initial operational capability for the command would fit better with CMM increment 1 or increment 2.

“Each time we sit down with different programs, as we go through the overarching integrated product team and get to the Defense Acquisition Board process, the program personnel are able to ask the right questions about integration. These questions are usually documented in the ADM [acquisition decision memorandum] that comes out of the acquisition decision. So for CMM, for instance, the ADM’s going to say, ‘We will provide certain capabilities to the JFCC ISR,’” Meiners explains.

Evaluating current capabilities could use some help from modeling and simulation, he notes. Today, analysts examining intelligence-collection systems can compare and contrast two or sometimes three platforms to assess how well they meet an organization’s or a commander’s intelligence requirements. What is needed, Meiners states, is the ability to compare a multitude of platforms in various scenarios. This would allow analysts to determine the best way to mix and match intelligence assets to meet intelligence needs. In addition, this capability would help decision makers decide where future funding should be directed, he says. This expanded modeling capability also is needed to coordinate various intelligence-gathering methods such as signals, human and imagery, Meiners notes.

Planning for the next version of the road map already is underway. The goal is to update it annually, approximately 60 to 90 days after the president’s budget is submitted to Congress early next year. “As we move forward with the next version of the road map, we’re going to kick into the analysis and the evaluation and try to guide where our investments go,” Meiners says.

 

Web Resource
U.S. House of Representatives, 108th Congress, Report 108-354: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&db_id=cp108&sid=cp108pC3Jy&r_n=hr354.108&item=&sel=TOC_727031&