Intelligence

May 6, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
Intelligence and cybersecurity experts discuss emerging cyber threats at an AFCEA EPIC presentation, with growing concern over wearables and the Internet of Things.

Should private companies be able to—and maybe more importantly—hack back? 

The question drew enthusiastic responses from panelists and the audience during at presentation Thursday by AFCEA’s Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee (EPIC) on intelligence and cybersecurity.  

April 5, 2016
An IARPA program will study the human brain in an effort to make machines smarter.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has awarded an $18.7 million contract to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, as part of a larger project with Baylor College of Medicine and Princeton University, to create the largest-ever road map to understand how the function of networks in the brain’s cortex relates to the underlying connections of its individual neurons. The project is part of the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) program, which seeks to revolutionize machine learning by reverse-engineering the algorithms of the brain.

April 29, 2016

A group of University of Maryland (UMD) researchers has developed an algorithm that can not only detect a face, but also simultaneously determine the gender and pose, and extract fiducial, or reference, points.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has provided funding and support for the invention, which has been dubbed HyperFace. The algorithm simultaneously detects faces; finds facial landmarks, including eye center, nose tip, etc.; estimates the head pose; and recognizes the person’s gender from any real-world images and videos, Rama Chellappa, UMD chair of electrical and computer engineering, said in a written announcement.

April 29, 2016
By Terry Roberts

OK, I admit it—on any scale—I am an analytic dinosaur. When I started as an intelligence analyst in the (yes) 1980s—it was truly a lifetime of technology ago. Pong was cool. Wang was cutting edge. All the analysts I worked with had amazing colored charts on the wall, big “scrapbooks,” stacks and file cabinets of message traffic a foot high that came from the communications room. When I established one of the first computer databases that my analytic team had ever seen they thought I had gone rogue.

April 1, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
An NGA map of West Africa helped in fighting last year’s Ebola outbreak by illustrating the locations of vital resources and facilities. The NGA is looking to tap other types of commercial data, including social media information, to build new products that feature more diverse information.

Commercial data and tools are defining the future of geospatial intelligence for the agency tasked with providing it across a growing community. From new private-sector satellites to unclassified information extracted from open sources and social media, the ways of collecting, processing and disseminating geospatial intelligence are changing.

March 10, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy leaders address C4ISR capability gaps and needs during an AFCEA DC Chapter breakfast. From l-r, Maj. Gen. Martin Whelan, USAF; Brig. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, USAF; Maj. Gen. Jody Daniels, USA; and Capt. Jeff “Caesar” Czerewko, USN. Photo by Mike Carpenter

Adversaries have caused less of a disruptive aftermath on some U.S. military operations than a homegrown technology solution: big data.

Once viewed as a tremendous asset, troops can now be mired in the vast amount of information collected from ever-improving sensors of all kinds, impeding some missions in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, better known as C4ISR. The quagmire drives leaders to seek solutions.

January 28, 2016
By Shawn Snow
An A-29 Super Tucano drops a bomb.

At the height of combat missions in Afghanistan, the U.S. military occupied nearly 825 military outposts throughout the war-ravaged region. That number now stands at roughly 20. The outposts served an extensive intelligence-gathering network, using surveillance balloons and wide-range signals intelligence collection operations. The rapid drawdown of these facilities following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the region created a black hole of information, with Afghan forces struggling to fill the gap. 

February 22, 2016
By George I. Seffers

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has released a broad agency announcement (BAA) seeking proposals to develop, and experimentally test, systems that use crowdsourcing and structured analytic techniques to improve analytic reasoning. At the same time, the organization released three requests for information and announced a March 11 proposers’ day for the Odin program, which is developing methods for detecting attempts to disguise a person’s biometric identity.

January 1, 2016
By Robert K. Ackerman
The nature of persistent intelligence is changing from increased loiter time to incorporation of greater numbers and types of sensors. Equipping soldiers with a variety of sensor systems may turn them into nodes in an intelligence Internet of Things.

Persistent intelligence is moving from a reliance on time-driven collection to composing information from a broad range of sensors. In photographic terms, it is changing from a time-lapse to a multispectral scene. But this increased reliance on different sources of intelligence also increases the importance of data processing and mandates cooperative efforts among public and private researchers.

January 22, 2016
By Bill Nolte

Late in 2014, I drafted an article titled “The U.S. Intelligence Community of 2025: Smaller by Design?” The question mark was an important part of the title. The point was not to recommend a conscious reduction in force, but rather to suggest that such an outcome should be given consideration if it could deliver equal or greater capability along with greater agility and efficiency. I received prepublication review approval of the paper, then never submitted it for publication.

January 1, 2016
By J. Ryan Larson

Authorities should view modern emancipation not as a movement founded upon an emotional response to injustice, but as a tactical achievement using analytic methodologies to eliminate the despicable trade of human trafficking. The global threat of this human rights violation inherently is convoluted and requires an integrated response to mitigate root sources.

December 14, 2015
By Bill Nolte

Before readers vent on that headline, they should read the accompanying text. The quotation marks should earn a moment or two of hesitation. Then you can vent.

December 1, 2015
By Terry Roberts

Last month, for the second time in four years, I attended the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) in Scottsdale, Arizona. I must admit, I typically do not frequent all-female groups or events. I always have believed that to succeed, women must be mainstreamed into all professions, companies and organizations. After all, I had entered the U.S. Navy and naval intelligence in 1979, at a time when only a handful of women were in this field. Many of the legal and policy tenets already were already in place to ensure I was given the same opportunity as my male officer counterparts. Of course, there were workplace behavioral challenges—but the framework was in place regarding equal pay, promotion and leadership opportunity for all under the law.

December 1, 2015
By George I. Seffers
Mongolian troops participate in a riot-control exercise during Khaan Quest 2015 in Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity’s predictive analytics programs seek to improve forecasting for a variety of events, including civil unrest and political uprisings.

U.S. intelligence agencies are in the business of predicting the future, but no one has systematically evaluated the accuracy of those predictions—until now. The intelligence community’s cutting-edge research and development agency uses a handful of predictive analytics programs to measure and improve the ability to forecast major events, including political upheavals, disease outbreaks, insider threats and cyber attacks.

November 5, 2015
By Bill Nolte
Courtesy National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

The Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, D.C., and our colleagues at the Intelligence National Security Alliance, or INSA, are collaborating this fall on a series of conversations on cyber intelligence, tackling key issues that surround the phenomenon that increasingly influences—if not yet dominates—our lives.

November 2, 2015
By Sandra Jontz

Open-source intelligence strong-armed its way to prominence as a respected discipline out of necessity as the world of professional spies struggles to extract valuable information from the daunting amount of data in this technical age where Twitter posts contain intelligence and selfies can be evidence, according to experts.

While open-source intelligence, or OSINT, is a vital tooth in the cog, it is but one discipline critical to effective foreign policy decision-making, offered Joseph DeTrani, president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

October 1, 2015
By Terry Roberts

This year's Intelligence and National Security Summit cyber track, which Shawn Henry and I co-chaired, featured many insightful and compelling discussions across several key areas. But none was more enlightening and challenging than the final session focused on “An Unclassified Global Cyber Threat Assessment,” which began with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) national intelligence officer (NIO) for cyber, Sean Kanuck. Offering counterpoint was one of the best internationally focused cyber minds in the business, Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies. This panel was moderated by Rear Adm.

September 23, 2015
By Bill Nolte

My school at the University of Maryland is reviewing its curriculum. In a meeting over the summer, colleagues were discussing ways to make our graduates more skilled in managing bureaucracy—how to integrate bureaucracy into policy decisions and so on. As I told a colleague later, we were missing the point. We should not be developing masters of the bureaucratic universe; we should be developing leaders who can help us move beyond bureaucracy as an organizing model. He smiled. I get that a lot.

September 1, 2015
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. airman photographs the iris of an Afghan district police chief. The images are cataloged in a database containing biometric information used to identify locals.

The use of biometrics for force protection alone could be a bygone approach as the blossoming technology makes inroads toward the development of a new intelligence discipline. Biometrics intelligence ultimately could be the next INT in the menu of intelligence specialties.

The U.S. military’s interest in rapidly acquiring biometrics know-how to help today’s warfighter with tomorrow’s technology puts the private sector on the verge of a turning point.

September 1, 2015
By Dr. R. Norris Keeler

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the United States was the beneficiary of staggeringly important intelligence information transmitted through the CIA by Adolf Tolkachev, a Soviet engineer who held a high position in a Russian military radar design house. Tolkachev provided information that redirected U.S. defense spending and allowed the U.S. Air Force to maintain air supremacy against the Warsaw Pact and other nations that used Soviet air defense platforms and technologies­—while saving more than a billion dollars in procurement spending. A recent book by David E. Hoffman categorizes Tolkachev’s importance by its title, The Billion Dollar Spy. Yet before Tolkachev’s information could be considered in U.S.

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