Intelligence

September 19, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Jim Cannaliato of Engineering Solutions Inc. (l) receives a $3,000 check for his company’s winning entry in the EPIC App challenge. Presenting the check is AFCEA Intelligence Committee member Joe Schmank of Microsoft Azure Government Cloud.

A challenge to develop an intelligence app concluded with software that uses neural networks to predict social unrest around the world. Sponsored by the AFCEA Emerging Professionals in Intelligence Committee (EPIC) and the Cyber Council of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, the challenge awarded a total of $6,000 to three firms tasked with developing a software solution to a problem currently confronted by the intelligence community.

September 5, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A row of service intelligence chiefs describes today's threats and needed solutions in a panel chaired by (far l) Vice Adm. Jake Jacoby, USN (Ret.). The panelists are (l-r) Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler, USN; Brig. Gen. Dmitri Henry, USMC; Rear Adm. Robert Hayes, USCG;Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, USAF; and Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, USA. Photography by Herman Farrer

A resurgent Russian military that has adopted an entirely different posture than its communist predecessor is posing a major military challenge to U.S. forces worldwide, according to U.S. service intelligence chiefs. Where China is boosting its military to realize its goal of global economic supremacy, Russia is focusing its force modernization to defeat the U.S. military in any setting, the flag officers said.

September 5, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Panelists discussing the effect of influence operations on the United States are (l-r) panel moderator Shane Harris of The Washington Post; Ronald Waltzman, The Rand Corporation; Joe Morosco, ODNI; and Fran Moore, Financial Systemic Analysis and Resilience Center. Photography by Herman Farrer

Foreign influence operations against the United States and its allies are likely to proliferate as more nations with propaganda agendas learn how to exploit social media technologies, say intelligence community experts. Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election are only the tip of the iceberg, and government must learn how to work with industry to counter these efforts.

September 4, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
John Hamre (l), president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, speaks with John Rood, undersecretary of defense for policy, during a panel discussion moderated by Hamre at the 2018 Intelligence and National Security Summit. Photography by Herman Farrer.

Across-the-board innovation is increasing the national security threat picture, and the U.S. Defense Department is preparing to respond in kind. Technology advances such as hypersonics and artificial intelligence may join macroprojects such as a new space force as peer and near-peer adversaries gear up to overcome U.S. military superiority.

September 4, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, describes the challenges facing the community at the Intelligence and National Security Summit. Photography by Herman Farrer

Economics, crime, terrorism and technology form the basis of four major challenges confronting the U.S. intelligence community, according to its director. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, described the causes of these challenges to a large luncheon audience on the first day of the 2018 Intelligence and National Security Summit sponsored by AFCEA International and INSA at National Harbor, Maryland.

September 1, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV-Heavy rocket launches a National Reconnaissance Office payload into orbit from Cape Canaveral. While the U.S. intelligence community will continue to rely on government space assets, it will increasingly tap the commercial sector for innovative products and services.

The next sector to benefit from commercial space technology spinoffs could be the intelligence community. Facing a growing threat to its mission capabilities in orbit, the community is weighing several options to prevent adversaries from denying the use of vital systems, including national technical assets. At the same time, plans are in the works for the next generation of space-based intelligence assets.

Among the options is a greater reliance on commercial technologies to ensure space system survivability. The intelligence community is already working to exploit private-sector innovations, and future developments offer the potential to change the U.S. national security space architecture.

September 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Artificial intelligence-driven voice forensics can yield a great deal of information about a speaker, including physical characteristics, health, genealogy and environment. Credit: Shutterstock

In the future, voice analysis of an intercepted phone call from an international terrorist to a crony could yield the caller’s age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, health status, emotional state, educational level and socioeconomic class. Artificial intelligence-fueled voice forensics technology also may offer clues about location; room size; wall, ceiling and floor type; amount of clutter; kind of device, down to the specific model used to make the call; and possibly even facial characteristics of the caller.  

August 22, 2018
By Robert K. Ackerman

A $3,000 bounty awaits the developer who can come up with the best app to suit an intelligence community need, but time is short—the deadline for entry is Thursday, August 23, at 11:59 p.m., EDT. Known as the EPIC APP Challenge, the contest is open to schools or companies wielding a team of no more than five members.

July 23, 2018
Posted by George I. Seffers
Social media data could become integral to detecting violations of nuclear nonproliferation agreements. Researchers have developed a computation model that incorporates often incompatible sources of data, such as satellite imagery and Twitter posts that indicate when a violation has occurred. Credit: Geralt/Pixabay

Researchers at North Carolina (NC) State University have developed a new computational model that draws on normally incompatible data sets, such as satellite imagery and social media posts, to answer questions about what is happening in targeted locations. The model identifies violations of nuclear nonproliferation agreements.

June 6, 2018
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, USN, pictured at DCOS, looks to the National Background Information System, which DISA built and will operate, to advance the country¹s efforts in federal background investigations. Credit: Mike Carpenter

A new information technology system from the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is set to improve how the federal government conducts background investigations.

More than 4.08 million individuals hold a federal security clearance, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s Annual Report on Security Clearance Determinations. And it can take federal agencies more than 500 days to process security clearance cases, including background investigations.

March 30, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
Charlie Allen, principal at The Chertoff Group, says the Intelligence Community must do a better job of anticipating abrupt discontinuities in adversaries' actions.

The generation that remembers “duck and cover” also recalls headlines that included the words Soviet Union and impending dangers. Today, a combination of global instability, rising authoritarianism and democracies in retreat may lead to similar yet more dangerous situations, and this time, the headlines also are likely to include the words “People's Republic of China.”

April 3, 2018
Robert K. Ackerman
Former government intelligence officer Maureen A. Baginski believes open-source material, supplemented with classified data, should be the primary information around which analysts build knowledge.

The intelligence community has gone from scarcity to surfeit in terms of information, and it must adopt a new paradigm or lose the advantages it has from improved collection, according to a retired intelligence official. The best approach for achieving this is to use open-source material as core information and then supplement it with classified material.

April 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
NASA’s development of new communications satellites began in 1960 based on the theory that placing them in a geosynchronous orbit would keep the satellites in the same area of the sky relative to the rotating Earth. Just 17 months later, NASA launched Syncom I, but the satellite stopped sending signals a few seconds before it reached its final orbit and was soon replaced by Syncom II.  NASA

Researchers working on behalf of the U.S. intelligence community are kicking off a program designed to develop a revolutionary capability for monitoring objects in geostationary orbit, including functioning satellites and hundreds of thousands of bits of space debris. The program will attempt to provide low-cost approaches for passive ground-based interferometric imaging of space objects, a technique using two or more telescopes or lenses.

March 26, 2018
By Maryann Lawlor
Lewis Shepherd (l), executive consultant on advanced technologies at Deloitte, spoke with Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, about the rapid changes in technology at the AFCEA 2017 Spring Intelligence Symposium.

While stopping weapons of mass destruction and cyber attacks are high security priorities, the kinetic effects from cyber forces are a looming threat today. Malevolent uses for artificial intelligence combined with autonomous systems provide frightening new levels of capabilities to potential adversaries, and the U.S. Defense Department and the intelligence community are being called upon to address them with extraordinary vigor.

March 22, 2018
By George I. Seffers
A NATO AWACS takes off from Forward Operating Location Ørland in Norway during during a training exercise. This summer’s Unified Vision will allow NATO officials to assess a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Credit: Photo courtesy of NATO E-3A Component Public Affairs Office

When NATO first envisioned a joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability following a 2012 summit in Chicago, alliance members were not at all sure exactly what that meant, says Matt Roper, the chief of joint ISR within NATO’s Communications and Information Agency.

March 13, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Army Sgt. K.C. Pless applies camouflage paint before a multinational weapons training session with Danish troops in Estonia on March 10 in support of support Operation Atlantic Resolve. As the Army operates in an ever-changing world, the service’s military intelligence needs to provide a counter to the evolving threats. Army photo by Spc. Hubert D. Delany III

The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, recently tapped Herndon, Virginia-based ManTech International Corporation to provide counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism support to the command and the command’s 902nd Military Intelligence Group at Fort Meade, Maryland. The $133 million award is for one year, with contract options that could extend the work through 2020.

March 6, 2018
By George I. Seffers
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Army deputy chief of staff, G-2, speaks at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference.

Cloud computing, big data and cyber are among the capabilities that pose a major threat to U.S. forces, said Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, Army deputy chief of staff, G-2.

“If you’re a threat actor out there, probably a little bit of investment in these areas is going to go a long way to make life very difficult for your adversaries,” Gen. Berrier told the audience at the AFCEA Army Signal Conference in Springfield, Virginia.

March 1, 2018
By George I. Seffers
The Air Force Distributed Common Ground Station is receiving a new open architecture that will allow more rapid adoption of new capabilities and is destined to obtain deep learning technology to enhance data analysis and multidomain command and control.

The U.S. Air Force is deploying a new open architecture for its primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system. At the same time, Air Force researchers are developing deep learning capabilities that will allow the decades-old system to sort through reams of data more easily, enabling faster decision making on the battlefield and enhancing multidomain command and control.

March 1, 2018
By Kimberly Underwood
Metron uses statistical methods to create inference tools for the Navy.  Metron Scientific Solutions

Employing modern statistical inference tools can provide the U.S. Navy a bridge to improved searching and tracking for people, planes and ships across land and sea. The ability of the tools to incorporate even spotty intelligence data to help locate individuals elevates the Navy’s command and control posture and ultimately aids in protecting the United States from security threats.

February 22, 2018
By Beverly Cooper
(Photography Shutterstock/Serp)

Recognizing analytical gaps spanning innovative technical system analytics, physics studies and modeling and simulation capabilities is a critical component of successful maritime C4ISR efforts. However, the opportunities to hear and discuss these challenges and potential solutions in effective ways are limited by the need for a classified venue and the availability of intelligence personnel with the necessary level of deep technical expertise. 

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