2020 Intelligence & National Security Summit

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 Kimberly Underwood
Climate change and the damage it inflicts have profound implications to national security, experts say. Credit: Shutterstock/Sepp Photography

Leaders need to be aware of how climate change is affecting the United States and other nations, how countries will handle the impacts, and how that might change the geopolitics and power balance across the world. Already, near-peer adversaries, including China and Russia, are capitalizing on climate change, experts say.

For example, because of climate change, the Arctic has melting and thinning ice. For the intelligence community, strategic analysis of shifting routes, travel and operations in the Arctic Sea region is necessary, said David Titley, professor, International Affairs and professor, Practice, Department of Meteorology, and director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, Pennsylvania State University.

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 Kimberly Underwood
Intelligence community chief information officers are selecting advanced capabilities to support key mission efforts. Credit: Shutterstock/Gorodenkoff

During the pandemic, technology leaders across intelligence agencies have focused not only on supporting the continuity of mission efforts and the connectivity of its work force, but also emerging solutions to drive innovation and efficiencies.

Some of the main tools officials are pursuing include: advanced software delivery, multicloud use, machine learning and data processing tools, said chief information officers (CIOs), who along with moderator Lewis Shepherd of VMware, spoke on September 17 at the Intelligence and National Security Summit, co-hosted virtually by INSA and AFCEA.

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 17, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
A DIA employee tests wireless telecommunications technologies during the Joint Innovation Battle Lab 2019. During the pandemic, the agency has shifted its workforce environment to ensure mission success. Credit: Defense Intelligence Agency photo by Public Affairs Specialist Jordan Bishop

The secure nature of providing foreign military intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense and the intelligence community requires careful stewardship of information and employees in an unclassified and classified environment. Once the COVID-10 pandemic hit, shuttering businesses and altering daily life, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, known as DIA, immediately had to examine and prioritize how to perform that work.

September 17, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Companies working for intelligence community agencies have had to redefine some processes and procedures to ensure mission-critical work could continue during the pandemic. Credit: Shutterstock/NicoElNino

The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping how companies support intelligence community work, in possibly the largest shift since 9/11, experts say. Facing immediate needs for telework in March, firms had to reconfigure how to support the high-level national security missions of organizations such as the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI, the CIA and others.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) proved essential to the trusted intelligence workforce, experts say, as it ensured the continuity of serving the intelligence community, or IC, during this time, said Judi Dotson, executive vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton.

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.

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.