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Intelligence

Today's Intelligence Challenges Face 
a Distant Mirror

April 1, 2013
By Capt. D. Mark Houff, USN

An established superpower is dealing with multiple threats to its interests around the world. An emerging global economic and military/naval power is making its presence felt throughout the world, particularly in Asia. The intelligence community is confronted with a complex environment punctuated by socio-economic power shifts and revolutions in communications, commerce and transportation. World intelligence organizations face internal and external terrorist and anarchist threats as well as exploding population growth and resource competition in strategically critical regions. Compounding these challenges are intelligence budgets that range from uncertain to non-existent.

DISA Lays Groundwork for Commercial Cloud Computing Contract

March 26, 2013
By Max Cacas

One of the U.S. Defense Department’s top information technology officials says work is beginning on a multiaward contract for commercial cloud computing services, but the official says he has no timeline or total value for the business.

Air Asset to Send Critical Material to Forces Faster

March 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

The plug-and-play technology will close large capability gaps in the field.

The U.S. Army is developing the first airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform fully enabled to connect analysts with the Distributed Common Ground System-Army. That system will help remedy problems currently hindering soldiers from having all data feed into a single repository. With the new aircraft, the process will be streamlined from the flying support, so information reaches ground commanders faster to facilitate more timely decision making.

Units will begin enjoying these connected benefits of the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) aircraft in 2014, with the Army accepting deliveries from Boeing beginning later this year. In the past, all airborne intelligence platforms employed their own unique processing, exploitation and dissemination procedures that transmitted to specific ground stations. Personnel then had to find workarounds to share it with the troops who needed it. Through the Distributed Command Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), analysts can query the single system and retrieve the sensor data remotely.

Soldiers have used the DCGS-A extensively throughout their operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Defense Acquisition Executive only approved the system for full deployment across the force in mid-December of last year.

The Army’s Guardrail platform is also DCGS-A capable, but it does not have operators of the system on board nor does it have imagery intelligence (IMINT) capability. Guardrail is designed to support only signals intelligence (SIGINT) to the DCGS-A, while EMARSS will bring in the imagery piece at the secret Internet router protocol network level. In addition, EMARSS will be the first platform that can provide data from secret to top secret immediately into the Army's distributed system.

The Budget Is Dominating the Dialogue--Especially That of the Security Community

March 1, 2013
by Kent R. Schneider

Anyone who has attended an AFCEA conference in the past two months has heard the constant drumbeat from senior government leadership on the limitations on operations and readiness likely to occur in defense, intelligence and homeland security. At the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 Conference in San Diego January 29-31, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a packed audience that the U.S. Defense Department did not know how much money it would receive, when it would receive it or what the restrictions on its use would be.

While we are getting a similar message from defense, intelligence and homeland security leaders, the most concise statement of the problem comes from Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter. In a January 10 memorandum, “Handling Budgetary Uncertainty in Fiscal Year 2013,” Carter points out that the department faces two elements of economic uncertainty in this fiscal year. First, the department, as are all U.S. federal agencies, is operating under a continuing resolution (CR) that expires March 27. While the Defense Department is working with Congress to get appropriations bills, the possibility exists that it will operate under a CR for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Under a CR, the department is limited to prior-year funding levels, and there can be no new starts. In addition, transfer of funds among categories is very limited. Second, Congress deferred potential sequestration under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 from January 2, 2013, to March 1. If sequestration does occur this late in the year, the approximately $46 billion in reductions would occur in a very concentrated period. Remember too that the reductions under sequestration have few exceptions and must be applied across all program elements.

National Fusion Centers Play Critical Role in Homeland Security

February 27, 2013
George I. Seffers

The National Network of Fusion Centers, developed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks, are a vital part of the nation’s homeland security efforts, according to experts on the Intelligence and Information Sharing Panel at AFCEA’s Homeland Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

The fusion centers serve as the primary focal point for the receipt, gathering and sharing of threat-related information among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners. Although largely funded through federal homeland security grants, the centers are owned and operated by local entities.

Panelists described an environment where the need for fusion centers was identified and building began with little guidance. “We have seen tremendous progress made,” said Christian Beckner, former staff member on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “Now, we have a broad national network playing a critical role in making the country safer.”

Scott McAllister, deputy undersecretary of intelligence and analysis for State and Local Program Office, Department of Homeland Security, pointed out that prior to the 9/11 attacks, local had no role in combating terrorism. Now, however, several thousand security clearances are issued at the local level.

Beckner explained that the fusion centers sometimes pass information up the chain to federal agencies, so information is being shared in both directions. Additionally, local and state experts can analyze and process information from a different point of view than federal employees, helping to fill intelligence gaps.

The Fiscal Cliff is Here Again Along with Cyber Insecurity

February 2013
Joe Mazzafro

Greetings Fiscal Cliff Dwellers!  By the time you read this there will be less than two weeks before automatic sequestration cuts take effect - - - a week of which the Congress will be in recess!  What was meant to be a “poison pill” to force the legislative and executive branches to compromise on rational budgets so the government could reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years now appears inevitable.  Since January we have been fed a steady stream of increasingly dire consequences from Navy aircraft carriers not deploying, to Army readiness declining, to Air Force airplanes not being maintained, to civilian workers being furloughed, and to contracts being canceled unless there is some relief from the automatic 9.4% sequestration of funds scheduled for March 1st.   Yet none of this doom and gloom was in evidence as late as Thanksgiving of 2012 when the reflexive answer from DoD consistently was “the Congress won’t allow sequestration to happen!”
 

Dramatics to Drama: From the Fiscal Cliff to “Zero Dark Thirty”

Joe Mazzafro

Unless we are existing in a weird parallel universe, the Mayan’s were clearly wrong about the world ending last month,  but the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” does warn the U.S. will likely lose its status as the planet’s only superpower by then.  And how about that fiscal cliff?!?  Lots of drama for New Year’s Day legislation that only raised taxes on those making $400k or more without any meaningful impact on reducing the deficit or dealing with sequestration.  More or less a two month “U” turn at the fiscal cliff or a demonstration of “Democracy Inaction!”
 
The White House and the Congress “agreeing “ to defer dealing with either the debt ceiling or sequestration for two months only insures that budgetary uncertainty for almost all national security accounts will continue until “March Madness.”  Sequestration will then join raising the debt ceiling and extending the Continuing Resolution (CR) for the rest of FY 13 as requiring legislative action of some type in March.  While there could be some kind of grand bargain providing a comprehensive solution to all three of these separate but related tectonic fiscal issues, I remain unable to see what will change between now and March given the political posturing that has been going since 2010 without any significant increases in revenues or cuts in spending.  And as we heard the President and the Republican leaders of Congress publicly “trash talking” with each other on January 14, any discussion about raising the debt ceiling is an opportunity for political brinkmanship regarding shutting down the government.
 

Personal Empowerment Worldwide Could Affect U.S. Security and Economics

January 7, 2013
By Rita Boland

The National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 report has attracted a lot of attention, but this focus often skims over some key findings.

 

Big Data in Demand for Intelligence Community

January 4, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The National Security Agency is poised to deliver an initial cloud computing capability for the entire intelligence community that will significantly enhance cybersecurity and mission performance, and unleash the power of innovation for intelligence agencies, Lonny Anderson, NSA chief information officer, says.

Robotic Autonomous Activities Advance

December 13, 2012

A vision-driven robotic arm will enable the precise long-range delivery of a payload weighing up to one pound into difficult-to-reach environments.

 

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