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.
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.
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.
Four teams will share a grand prize of $110,000 for their work on the speech recognition challenge Automatic Speech Recognition in Reverberant Environments, or ASpIRE.
The winning teams are from Johns Hopkins University, Raytheon BBN Technologies, the Institute for Infocomm Research and Brno University of Technology, according to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The days when the Free World’s intelligence community could focus exclusively on a monolithic threat are over. We may be living in the most uncertain security environment since World War II, and threat diversity is a major reason. The varying nature of threats, along with their effective capabilities, are impelling the intelligence community to expand its vision and revamp organizationally.
Having too little information once daunted the world of spies and intelligence analysts. Now the problem is too much data, and one of the biggest challenges going forward for the intelligence community is not a lack of technology but civilization’s dependency on it.
Today big data is one of the hottest segments of the information technology industry, successfully shrinking the world while creating an information overload that can paralyze analysts working to win the data-management war, experts lament.
Over the past week, I have thought a lot about innovation. In part because I’m preparing for my upcoming panel discussion on innovation at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence Summit next week, and in part because I’m troubled by the seemingly pervasive use of the word “innovation” as a solution to many of our intelligence collection and analysis challenges.
U.S. Air Force scientists and engineers are improving intelligence operations by upgrading and automating systems and capabilities to provide more accurate and appropriate information to the customer. Their endeavors range from outer space to cyberspace as they seek to keep abreast of dynamic changes in the information age.
These efforts include writing new algorithms for the Space Based Infrared System to dramatically enhance its capabilities beyond the original design. Not only can the updated system view much smaller objects from space, but it also may one day help determine the materials that make up a target object.
I may not be alone in having a list of favorite phrases that come up when senior government officials address conferences of one sort or another. Sometimes I even maintain a private checklist: how many of the “big ones” did the official hit? “Thinking outside the box” may be past its prime, but it still shows up. “We need a paradigm shift” will never, unfortunately, go away, nor will “our employees are our most important resource.” At intelligence-related events, I can usually count on several variations on “we’ve solved the technical problem; all that remains is the cultural issue.” I never get a sense that the cultural issue is going to be addressed, but there it is.
The U.S. government must direct serious attention to fixing the integrity of the nation’s security clearance system, marred by the cyber breach on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The true magnitude of the attack, which exposed more than 20 million federal workers and their families, is even greater than previously reported—now that we know that attack could have multiple repercussions on national security. Charles Allen, a senior intelligence adviser to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, stated the breach was a risk to national security unlike any he has seen during his 50 years in the intelligence community.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper announced today that he has selected Jason Matheny to be the next director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), effective immediately.
Last week I had the great honor to moderate a National Intelligence University (NIU) Foundation event at the Hart Senate Building focused on cyber intelligence and information sharing policy and practice. As it happens, I am a longtime graduate—which I hate to admit equates to three decades ago at the then-Defense Intelligence College—of the NIU Masters of Strategic Studies. And frankly I owe my 30-year love of scientific and technical intelligence to the artificial intelligence courses that NIU offered me and that I pursued with gusto at that time.
Two separate events, each with implications for intelligence—specifically U.S. intelligence—have thrust important issues to the forefront.
Roll back the clock to 2009. With great fanfare, General Dynamics and L-3 announced the now infamous (in government circles) Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME-PED) designed to be a special secure phone—one that, say, a U.S. president might use. But several problems plagued the effort, including cost, weight, short battery life and a lack of functionality. Then, “the iPhone happened,” says a former National Security Agency (NSA) executive. “We missed it. But hey, so did Blackberry and a lot of commercial companies.”
Cyber intelligence is the emerging buzz term as the United States works to fend off not just attacks by criminals and nation-state hackers, but terrorists calling for an electronic jihad.
The recent breach at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a cyber event that has touched many of us personally in a way that other breaches have not. It is not simply government employment data; it is the most personal and detailed of information about many of us or our protégés or friends. It is information that can be used in so many insidious ways, it is difficult to account for or imagine them all. It truly is a national security hit of the magnitude of WikiLeaks and the Snowden case because of the millions of lives, careers, families, agencies and missions that it impacts today and well into the future.
Established organizations, especially those confronting dynamic change in their operating environments, must from time to time question which of their processes they throw away, which they revise and which will serve effectively in the future. Almost by definition, these components of the corporate culture helped the organization succeed in the past. But will they do so in the future, even one dimly foreseen?
By any measure—judging from the Beltway buzz during and after—the sold-out AFCEA Intelligence Committee’s annual Spring Intelligence Symposium (May 20-21) was a success, particularly in highlighting the importance of government agencies working in partnership with the private industry to ensure rapid technological advance.
Anyone can read countless articles about the need for cybersecurity, computer science, cyber intelligence, architecture, data analytics and information technology acquisition educated and experienced operators, engineers, analysts and managers. But until you start to experience the brain drain personally, it mostly is ethereal.