United States to Combine Multiple Intelligence Missions Into Single U.K. Complex
The decision pulls in various missions and
centralizes them in a more modern infrastructure.
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.
A U.S. Air Force construction budget document for fiscal year 2015 says the project is necessary to support responsive and agile theater, joint and all-source intelligence analysis and production; to gain and maintain information dominance; and to support strategies of active security through Building Partnership Capacity and partner nation engagement missions. Officials will establish the purpose-built Joint Intelligence Analysis and Production Complex at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, England. The base is a Royal Air Force Station used by the U.S Air Force as a communications station. RAF Croughton’s intelligence missions include use as a relay station for CIA communications, and U.K. media reports peg it as a support site for U.S. drone attacks in locations outside of Europe. Alterations to the location to accommodate its new tenants include changes to various networks on the installation.
The Defense Department plans to construct $317 million worth of new facilities at RAF Croughton to accommodate the six intelligence organizations operating at RAF Molesworth and to supply other necessary support infrastructure for incoming personnel, according to testimony by John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense (installations and environment), in March. Though the center will be certified for joint use and will include multinational partners, the Air Force will provide the full funding.
The base is taking on intelligence missions from RAF Alconbury in Huntingdon, England, and RAF Molesworth, situated near Molesworth, England, both of which have been discussed for base realignment and closure actions. Those two installations are geographically close, and along with RAF Upwood, make up what is known as the Tri-Base Area. The three share various support units and facilities.
This planned consolidation of missions comes after a review by leadership in the U.S. Defense Department. U.S. European Command (EUCOM), headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, conducted a thorough analysis of 14 different locations both in Europe and within the continental United States while making its basing decision. Officials additionally examined a recapitalization of the existing facilities. Based on the commander’s approved criteria, the analysis concluded with RAF Croughton as the best installation for the relocation of the operations. Once the EUCOM commander approved the recommendation, the decision went to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which subsequently added its approval. According to a Defense Department official, “It is important to clarify that we are not building to accommodate a new mission; we’re just recapitalizing existing missions already being performed in the United Kingdom.”
The facility will include three distinct, collocated tenants each with its own mission to support Headquarters EUCOM, Headquarters U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or SHAPE. To carry out the missions, several disparate organizations will supply personnel and other resources to the new center, including EUCOM and AFRICOM. Intelligence groups also will be represented, including the U.S.-based Defense Intelligence and National Geospatial-Intelligence agencies. The NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre (NIFC) brings an international contingent. The NIFC is located in the United Kingdom. It is a U.S-sponsored, military-led organization that contributes to NATO Allied Command Operations intelligence activities.
The initiative has three phases that will begin in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The first phase is a $92 million project. The defense official says construction for each phase is anticipated to take approximately two years. The moves are expected to save the United States millions of dollars each year and to move personnel out of outmoded facilities on World War II-era bases.
In his testimony, Conger explained that current facilities supporting U.S. and partner nation intelligence analysis, engagement and training missions at RAF Molesworth are inadequate to support current analysis requirements and require substantial sustainment, restoration and modernization (SRM) funding. The existing mission facilities at RAF Molesworth include 21 widely dispersed and degraded buildings offering only 60 percent of the space authorized by the Unified Facilities Criteria.
Total intelligence personnel number approximately 1,250, and the dispersed layout inhibits intelligence collaboration. The department also has concerns that overcrowding contributes to safety concerns and an unhealthy working environment. “Short-term repairs and temporary facilities are used to keep intelligence work areas and systems functional,” Conger stated. The Defense Intelligence Agency and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence have spent around $90 million in SRM and for leased modular facilities that require recapitalization every seven years, which he said is not cost effective. The Air Force’s fiscal year 2015 construction budget document lays out that work space is needed for approximately 1,200 personnel with a rapid expansion capability to integrate up to 81 Joint Reserve Intelligence Support Element Reserve personnel during surge operations.
Conger explained his organization considers the intelligence-mission consolidation a prototype of the European Infrastructure Consolidation. The situation could result in annual recurring savings of $75 million. Conger reported a reduction in restoration and modernization funding required to alleviate $191 million in SRM backlog and a reduction of approximately 350 combined military, civilian and local foreign national personnel. “These figures demonstrate a relatively rapid payback of our upfront investment,” he stated.