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% se
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 National Security Agency (NSA) is poised to deliver an initial cloud computing capability for the entire intelligence community (IC) that will significantly enhance cybersecurity and mission performance, and unleash the power of innovation for intelligence agencies, Lonny Anderson, NSA chief information officer, says.
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. The capability is being made possible through a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that adds depth perception to the range of unmanned aerial hover vehicles’ features. Using stereo vision, the unmanned aerial vehicle can estimate a target’s position relative to the hovering aircraft in real time, and then the system tracks where the payload must be placed and the motion of a robotic arm. Control logic maneuvers the vehicle and directs the robotic arm to engage a designated target and to place the payload.
Last month when we gathered around the browser, I was expressing my concerns about a “guns of October” scenario emerging in the Middle East and assuring you that I did not believe the attack in Benghazi on September 11 represented an intelligence failure. Within days of posting, the conflict in Syria expanded to Turkey retaliating with cross border fire against Assad’s government forces. Then on September 28th the DNI issued a statement clarifying that subsequent intelligence showed the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi was not a spontaneous reaction to the YouTube “Innocence of Muslims” film trailer but rather it was a planned terrorist attack meant to kill Americans and embarrass the United States (
The U.S. government is adopting changes to the cloud computing certification program that will better protect against potential insider threats. The improvements include additional penetration testing, more thorough testing of mobile devices, tighter controls over systems being carried from a facility and more stringent scrutiny of systems connecting from outside the network.
The business world is taking a cue from the gaming world, increasingly using a system of incentives and old-fashioned competition to spur employee engagement. Gamification, which started out on video game screens with top score designations and leaderboards, is now helping companies meet real-life objectives.
“We’re taking what we know from games … and applying that to non-game contexts,” said Mike Campanelli, senior systems engineer at RadiantBlue Technologies, in a presentation from the AFCEA Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee to the entire Intelligence Committee.
The U.S. intelligence community has suffered significant damage from a perfect storm of insider revelations and budget cutbacks. Simultaneously, the threat picture confronting the United States has grown to an unprecedented level just when intelligence organizations are hampered in their efforts to continue to protect the nation.
The United States is in the midst of preparing its largest intelligence hub outside of its own national borders. The center will accommodate operations with reach into several global areas, including those rife with anti-terrorism operations. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into the work that includes consolidating resources from other installations.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is looking toward small business to provide vital technologies as the agency confronts budget constraints. Enticement efforts include targeted outreach, reshaped acquisition patterns and improved networking among potential contractors.
The relationship between small business and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is growing, says Sandra Broadnax, the small business director for the NGA. “We’re doing a lot more to embrace and bring industry to the table so that they can better understand our processes,” she states.
Where human analysis might fail in the intelligence community, technological solutions are at the ready to fill the void. Companies are ginning up software programs that can prove to be key for intelligence analysts as they track the bad guys, so to speak—be they insider threats or an outside enemy.
The amount of data produced in the increasingly connected and virtual world makes it difficult for human beings to scour, catalog and process and mounting information and produce actionable intelligence. So industry is devising technological workarounds or complementary programs to ease the workload and make their efforts more effective.
Two closely related science and technology programs aim to improve image location and search capabilities, saving intelligence analysts significant time and effort.
U.S. intelligence analysts often must wade through enormous amounts of imagery—both photographs and videos—to uncover the exact information needed. To make matters worse, data often does not contain geolocation tags, which indicate where the images were taken.
Technology innovations, new roles and expanding missions are shaping the move toward big data in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. A mix of tradecraft and technology is ensuing as the agency evolves from an organization that always has worked with voluminous imagery files to one in which big data represents a goal that promises to change many aspects of intelligence.
U.S. Army officials envision a future in which ground and air platforms share data and where soldiers at a remote forward-operating base easily can access information from any sensor in the area, including national satellites or reconnaissance aircraft flying overhead. To achieve this big data vision, the service has initiated three pilot projects designed to provide Google-style access in a tactical environment to the lowest echelon without overwhelming soldiers with unnecessary data.
The Instant Eye small unmanned aerial system received approval last Thursday from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used by an energy company, which will conduct research, development and training to see if the system is practical for inspecting infrastructure such as pipelines, power lines and insulators on towers. It is the first unmanned quadrotor to receive FAA certification and may be the lightest aircraft ever certified. The approval opens the door for the system to be used for a wide range of commercial applications.
Representatives from the U.S. Army and Air Force, along with 17 NATO nations and three partner nations, will participate in a joint reconnaissance trial at Orland Air Station in Norway May 19-28 to test and evaluate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) concepts and technologies. The Unified Vision 2014 (UV14) trial will be NATO’s largest-ever ISR trial and will be used as a major stepping stone to provide NATO warfighters with an enhanced set of ISR capabilities.
Q: What are the next steps for intelligence after the post-9/11 era?
A: The next steps should be a radical shift in how resources are allocated, not business as usual on tighter budgets.
The “post-9/11” era is over. For years I’ve been telling students that a decade marked by the pre-eminence of terrorism as an issue, flush budgets and a volatile information environment has ended. Terrorism must now compete with cybersecurity, energy and other resource issues, regional conflicts and several other concerns in an extraordinary mix—or even a dangerous blending—of several issues. Now of course, we face a resurgent Russia, with all that implies for stability in both Europe and Asia.
The world may be more dangerous today than in any period in history. Threats are widespread and diverse. It no longer is enough to watch nation-states. In this period of asymmetric warfare, with the addition of the cyberthreat, almost anyone can become a threat to national security. In this dangerous world, the value of intelligence has risen, and the tools and means of intelligence must be richer than in the past.
The borderless world of cybersecurity now is benefitting from geospatial intelligence products. The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has joined the fight against cybermarauders by providing imagery to help cyberwarriors track down online adversaries. Experts defending the United States from cyber attack abroad have a new tool in their kit by being able to see the facility from which digital malefactors are plying their wares.
The agency long has provided a variety of value-added geospatial products to customers throughout the defense and intelligence communities. In turning its eyes toward cyber, it combines data from partners to produce a unique product that over time may alter the agency’s mission.
The first graduates are emerging from centers of excellence for cyber operations that teach the in-depth computer science and engineering skills necessary to conduct network operations. The program better prepares graduates to defend networks and should reduce the on-the-job training needed for new hires, saving both time and money.