New data storage and retrieval techniques are allowing theater air mission planners to call up detailed imagery and mapping data from a laptop computer. Using commercial hardware and software, U.S. forces directed attack and rescue missions during the recent Kosovo conflict by accessing continentwide data contained in a single box.
Future U.S. Air Force combat missions will see the widespread use of nontraditional tactics designed to end a campaign quickly with a minimum of casualties and damage. By embracing these methods, the service moves toward effects-based operations where success is measured by an enemy's decreased warfighting capabilities or outright capitulation rather than by counting casualties and destroyed equipment.
The U.S. Defense Department is transforming its intelligence infrastructure to meet the revolutionary changes that the military is undergoing. The very nature of intelligence is changing with the revamping of the force, and its application promises to be a key issue in the success of that overall military transformation.
The next step in network-centric warfare will be the creation of networked sensing suites that tailor their observations to the adversary's rate of activity. These various sensors will concentrate on observing changes rather than on observing scenery.
The war against terrorism in Afghanistan has propelled the National Imagery and Mapping Agency into the future ahead of schedule. Faced with an urgent demand for intelligence on a region of the world not fully covered in its databases, the agency turned to private industry for products and services. And, it introduced advanced methods and products of its own to serve decision makers and warfighters.
Faced with rapidly changing information technology needs, the Central Intelligence Agency is serving as a venture catalyst to help fund private sector startup companies with promising technologies. An organization established by the agency seeks new companies with commercially viable products and serves as a facilitator providing the firms with access to capital and markets.
New collection platforms, satellite communications links, a common operating data set and commercial-style database exploitation tools are at the top of the intelligence wish list for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Marines fight in a manner similar to that of a joint task force, and their intelligence approach parallels this as it seeks to collect, process and disseminate information to users. Many of the hurdles that plague joint warfighters have been overcome by the Corps, but in doing so it has developed its own needs that cannot be met by joint service operations.
Mix advanced information technology, a rapidly increasing work force and a new architecture for sharing data and you have the recipe for transforming the military intelligence community, if the Defense Intelligence Agency has its way. Lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq have only reinforced the targets for change in defense intelligence collection, management and analysis.
The U.S. Army is looking to radically change the very concept of information management to meet its growing intelligence demands arising from force transformation. This will require a new way of processing and disseminating information in a network that links a rapidly growing number of increasingly diverse sensors and sources.
The U.S. intelligence community is in a race against international adversaries, and to win, it must link diverse data systems and information processes so that experts can learn enemy intentions and plans before disaster strikes. This race toward horizontal integration of intelligence has a two-pronged thrust that encompasses both data exchange at the collection level and information exchange at various levels of command and civil government decision making.