Intelligence

September 18, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A panel of five intelligence community members related their own personal experiences as they discussed the need for diversity during the final session of the 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit.

The call for diversity and equality that arose nationwide in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer has reached into the intelligence community, where many who have suffered from discrimination throughout their lives say much work remains to be done. The social needs of the country are mirrored in the community, which needs greater diversity to be able to serve national security needs in a time of dynamic change.

September 18, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/stefano carniccio

The United States and its great power rivals are taking different paths in their pursuit of artificial intelligence (AI), but all three are devoting significant resources to what they believe will be a game changer. Their uses of AI also are likely to be different, as their approach to ethics varies according to each nation’s principles.

A breakout session panel provided a global view on the race for AI during the third and final day of the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held online September 16-18. Panelists assessed the differences in AI research and applications among Russia, China and the United States.

September 18, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/ImageFlow

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled companies involved with intelligence systems and operations to rethink their work approaches to everything from hiring to clearances. Their need to continue to support the intelligence community has led them to new methods of operations that likely will remain in their portfolios long after the virus has passed into history.

September 18, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/sibsky2016

The U.S. intelligence community is teaming with entrepreneurs to develop the next generation of technologies. While government scientists continue to pursue highly classified work, the private sector is providing new capabilities that complement or even pioneer technologies needed by the community. Government research efforts are making room for unclassified work that can provide innovative capabilities needed for the full spectrum of intelligence operations.

September 17, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Photomarine

China is steadily pursuing its global goals based on a series of core issues that are not likely to be affected by international actions, said a panel of experts. The United States must take bipartisan actions to boost its own standing relative to China, even if the upcoming election results in a change of parties in the White House come January 2021.

These were among many points introduced by experts in a breakout session during the second day of the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit being held online September 16-18. They assessed China’s activities in and against the United States and recommended some actions to be taken by U.S. leaders.

September 17, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

Being forced to telework by the pandemic is a blessing in disguise to the U.S. military intelligence community, say its leaders. Processes that have been fermenting as ideas for years are being embraced enthusiastically, and what had been considered half-baked now is the way of the future as the community deals with new threats and methods of operations.

September 16, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

Just as with terrorism, disinformation can be home-grown and as damaging to a democracy as its foreign counterpart. It will take a partnered effort among all people and elements of a democracy to combat disinformation and restore truth to its mantle of supremacy before the institutions that underpin freedom crumble under the weight of lies and other propaganda. The threat is growing and is widespread, as purveyors of falsehoods adjust their tactics to increase effectiveness.

September 16, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Big data will be a major disruptor for whichever country manages to gain control of it first. Credit: Artistdesign29/Shutterstock

Data in various forms supports a wide range of national security missions, and whichever country is best able to use that data will have a distinct advantage, according to intelligence agency experts speaking at the virtual 2020 Intelligence and National Security Summit.

September 10, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/your

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has changed its approach to data services from an exclusively high-level activity to one at the lowest level. In moving from a centralized approach to a decentralized one, the agency has taken the same course as an army moving data from the command center down to the individual soldier in the foxhole.

September 4, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/M-SUR

The flood of disinformation from Russia has reached epidemic proportions as its leaders wage campaigns on multiple fronts. The coronavirus has provided a fertile medium for the spread of propaganda, and new technologies are promising a greater onslaught of disinformation aimed at eroding the world order.

Fighting disinformation that undermines Western institutions and U.S. policy goals is the Global Engagement Center (GEC). Lea Gabrielle, U.S. special envoy for the GEC, describes it as the mission center in an expanding network of partners all working together to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. It has been in growth mode for the past 18 months, she allows.

September 1, 2020
By George I. Seffers
Unmanned aircraft have proved immensely valuable to the military and to intelligence agencies, but they are sometimes too noisy for stealthy reconnaissance. The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is developing a silent and miniature aerial drone known as the Little Horned Owl. Credit: U.S. Defense Department photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey S. Viano, U.S. Navy

The cloud computing infrastructure at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity allowed the organization to pivot to a new teleworking norm during the pandemic that’s not much different than the old norm. The organization has conducted business as usual, hiring program managers, adding office directors, creating and killing programs, and continuing to meet the intelligence community’s technology needs.

Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, known as IARPA, was told on March 12 to “lean forward,” and she did, allowing almost the entire staff to telecommute beginning the next day. Even contractors work from home legally, securely and effectively.

September 1, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
The Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA’s) Science and Technology Directorate is developing a new strategy to pull in innovation to support U.S. warfighters’ understanding of foreign militaries. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.  USAF/Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky

Over the last year and a half, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Future Capabilities and Innovation Office, or FCI, has iteratively developed a new strategy to drive innovation and collaboration to the agency. The DIA, as the agency is known, is looking to harness artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, counterintelligence tools and other solutions to identify and assess cyber behaviors, among other capabilities. The FCI also must be able to measure the impacts of any solutions.

September 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Shutterstock/JoeZ

Legacy methods and arcane rules are hamstringing U.S. intelligence analysis at a time when it should be innovating. From training, which needs to shift emphasis to more basic skills, to collection and processing, which must branch into nontraditional areas, intelligence must make course corrections to solve inflexibility issues, according to a onetime intelligence official.

September 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman

The incorrect intelligence assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities was one of the two main causes of the new analysis standards, but that assessment may not have been the primary driver behind the U.S. decision to invade Iraq, says Mark Lowenthal, former assistant director of central intelligence for analysis and production.

“The estimate did not cause the war,” Lowenthal maintains.

“Clearly, there were flaws in the Iraq experience,” he states. “Number one, we were wrong.” Yet, he charges, the decision makers who led the United States into that war did not read that estimate.

September 1, 2020
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Intelligence challenges are continually evolving, but the challenges of the past pale in comparison to the depth and breadth of today’s trials. The problem is not a shortage of data or information; rather, the test is sifting through the unfathomable amounts of data and determining its veracity and relevance amidst both organized and anarchistic disinformation. Diogenes would be hopelessly befuddled in his search for truth in today’s society, but intelligence cannot afford to allow mistruths to shape its findings.

August 28, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit: Shutterstock/Herr Loeffler

U.S. trade secrets are being stolen by Chinese espionage at an alarming rate, and a Justice Department initiative is focusing on stopping the stealing. While cyber espionage is well known and hugely effective, the insider threat has shown to be equally damaging as the Middle Kingdom fuels its economic and military sectors with state-of-the-art U.S. technology.

July 27, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
Credit Shutterstock/JoeZ

Legacy methods and arcane rules are hamstringing U.S. intelligence analysis at a time when it should be innovating. From training, which needs to shift emphasis to more basic skills, to collection and processing, which must branch into nontraditional areas, intelligence must make course corrections to solve inflexibility issues, according to a onetime intelligence official.

July 23, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
As the intelligence community increasingly incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to help sort through massive amounts of data, it must apply ethical principles to keep its AI use within proper confines. Credit: Shutterstock/SFIO CRACHO

Transparency and integrity are two key principles headlining the list of artificial intelligence (AI) ethics released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). This list, released in combination with an AI ethics framework for the community, represents the first strike by the ODNI to apply guidance to the development and use of AI in the intelligence community.

July 13, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is evaluating two of its research programs to see if they may offer solutions for the ongoing pandemic. Credit: Corona Borealis Studio/Shutterstock

Two research programs at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as IARPA, are now undergoing evaluation to see if they may provide solutions to help counter the growing COVID-19 pandemic, IARPA director Catherine Marsh tells SIGNAL Magazine.

July 6, 2020
By George I. Seffers
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity is adding new office director positions and hiring new program managers as well. The office directors will help recruit program managers, develop and guide research programs, and enhance relationships with key personnel within the intelligence community to help ensure technology transfers to the agencies. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, is hiring personnel to fill several new office director positions. The new personnel will help recruit program managers, develop and guide programs, and strengthen relationships with the intelligence community, enhancing the transition of technologies from researchers to users.

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