Few things on Earth go unnoticed by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. So, when the landscape of national security changed in the 1990s, it saw the beginning of the end for a long-established corporate culture. The once highly secretive organization has since restructured itself by dramatically increasing its research and development efforts and aggressively enlisting services from the commercial sector. These changes reflect a general trend toward consolidating space-based observation assets within the intelligence community.
Unified military operations are leading to a redistribution of intelligence functions as the U.S. Defense Department transitions into a network-centric world. Sensors and shooters once belonged to the same family of operators. Now, sensing, analysis and dissemination of intelligence information are moving into a realm apart from the weapons delivery process.
U.S. Army planners are building a new intelligence architecture that ties closely with military, civil government and law enforcement activities both for rapid overseas engagement and for homeland defense. A new plan outlines an Army that meshes with the intelligence community as a whole to fill future requirements in its multimission agenda.
An advanced thin-client station allows U.S. intelligence analysts to work more effectively by enabling them to share information efficiently on the same network. Data that once resided on multiple networks is now stored on a secure server providing material to individual desktop units. The equipment creates a smaller hardware footprint while improving workflow and reducing security risks.
A prototype information management and communications technology soon will provide warfighters with near-real-time intelligence. The network-based system collects imagery, video and other data from airborne and ground-based sensors and stores it in specialized servers. Commanders can then access this raw information for needed materials without waiting for analysts to process it.
The Iraq War has provided a wealth of lessons that already are being applied to diverse U.S. Army intelligence disciplines such as sensors, situational awareness, information dissemination and secure conferencing. The Army has been incorporating many of these lessons by accelerating some programs and altering others, and many of these activities are supporting the ongoing Army transformation while others are altering its course.
The war on terrorism has added a new sense of urgency to the Central Intelligence Agency's science and technology development. The agency is accelerating its work in a number of key areas both to serve ongoing operations against al Qaida and to ensure long-term vigilance against asymmetric adversaries who are constantly changing their ways of operating.
The U.S. Army has a new tool in its arsenal that allows mobile troops to gather intelligence about the location and activities of adversaries by pinpointing the source of signal transmissions and intercepting communications. The system will replace legacy electronic warfare systems that were developed more than 30 years ago, and it has already been deployed in Afghanistan in support of operation Enduring Freedom.
Greater urgencies in both conventional and asymmetrical warfare are accelerating the development and deployment of measurement and signature intelligence systems. This rapidly growing discipline is delving into more diverse sources of data, and experts are advancing ways of using it to help other intelligence sensor systems. Concurrently, laboratory researchers are seeking to develop a totally new family of sensor systems that can detect everyday energy emissions from artificial and organic sources.