Intelligence Drives the Decision Advantage
America’s ability to collect and process massive amounts of information, rapidly integrate new collection with existing data for contextual understanding and quickly produce accurate intelligence judgments is key to providing U.S. policymakers and warfighters with decisive decision advantage. Within intelligence circles, achieving decision advantage requires greatly accelerated tasking, collecting, processing, exploiting and dissemination of operationally useful information that informs timely decisions at all levels of our joint operating forces and government.
These activities start long before conflict initiation—in what is commonly referred to as the gray zone—and continue into combat operations if deterrence fails.
Seizing the High Ground in Ukraine: Exposing Russian Intent
We saw the power of information play out in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late 2021 when U.S. intelligence was able to preemptively—and publicly—expose and compromise hostile Russian intent and plans before they were executed. This enabled the United States to seize the cognitive “high ground,” rally allies and partner nations, inform the public of impending danger and effectively counter adversary disinformation.
This rapid and effective leverage of all sources of information directly enabled an early start of Western support for Ukraine and has provided continuing decision advantage. It has also contributed meaningfully to bolster public Ukrainian support for military resistance to Russian aggression, bought critical time for multidomain Western assistance to arrive and be integrated and strengthened the will of the Ukrainian people to boldly resist.
Implications for the Indo-Pacific: China Is Watching
Other strategic competitors and potential adversaries are watching this unfold closely, notably China. As tensions continue to increase within the Indo-Pacific (INDOPAC) region, our ability to increase the speed with which we leverage all sources of classified and unclassified information for continuous situational understanding has never been more critical.
In many respects, the power of intelligence represents the single greatest means for increasing regional ally and partner unity of effort in confronting adversarial influence, fostering national will to resist foreign incursion and provide a strong basis for bilateral security assistance. Our ability to achieve strategic and operational situational understanding in near real-time has never been more essential to achieve global, and especially INDOPAC, asymmetric decision advantage. Achieving this will require effective, cross-cutting, integrated use of the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technical capabilities now increasingly available.
Technical Innovation for National Security
Recent technological advances have greatly increased the ability of intelligence organizations to collect, process and analyze much larger volumes of information across all domains. But information alone isn’t intelligence. The real value of intelligence lies in the ability to rapidly overlay many pieces of information, apply context, derive understanding, discern change and significance and disseminate useful insights and judgments to decision makers at all levels along operationally useful timelines.
If knowledge is power, then America’s decision information advantage is the nation’s superpower. Every day, intelligence operators provide actionable intelligence and insights to operating forces, defense leaders and policy makers to inform wise decisions. Timely provision of accurate operational environment information gives joint forces operational advantage, increases successful outcomes and saves lives. These insights can often be shared with allies and mission partners, enabling like-minded nations to achieve collective, synchronized effects not otherwise possible.
Leveraging Change to Safeguard the Future
One thing is certain: As we continue to engage in global competitive environments, the intelligence community needs to move forward faster. At Booz Allen Hamilton, we’ve found that fully leveraging the rapid pace of technological change can be a force multiplier.
Time and time again, we have helped our clients automate data processing, enrich information holdings and leverage the power of analytic algorithms and machine learning to achieve holistic situational awareness and rapid understanding—staying ahead of adversary actions by anticipating “what’s next” in the operational environment and determining how emerging technologies can best be applied without waiting for formal requirements to catch up. Three elements underpin our ability to speed technical change for intelligence operators and organizations: digital modernization, AI integration and application of high-end analytics.
Advances in Computing Power and AI
As software and electronics increasingly diffuse into every imaginable corner (and device), information is increasingly created, collected and stored—hour after hour, day after day. Technological advances also enable us to do more and more with the collected data. More powerful processors—which continue to shrink significantly in size and expanding in compute power—enable massive processing “at the edge,” where most users reside, where speed of understanding is most crucial and where rapidly developing “flash to bang” consequences are most lethal. What would have taken supercomputers hours in the 1980s can now occur on a phone within seconds and minutes, and concurrently be shared with other devices or to the cloud.
Making exponentially broader use of collected data is now possible through more powerful analytics solutions enabled by AI and machine learning algorithms. These pieces of software not only process the data available to them, but can also learn and continuously refine their actions over time. This allows them to become progressively better and faster at assigned tasks and more capable of adapting to new ones.
Data Sharing for Regional Security
Automating tasks and uncovering powerful insights is one imperative. Just as critical is the ability to share these advantages to strengthen regional and global partnerships and alliances. Our datacentric environment advances multidomain communications across organizations, echelon and classification levels. This critical objective to synchronize joint effects is at the heart of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)—a top Department of Defense (DoD) priority to maximize the operational success of U.S., allied and partner nation forces worldwide. That can powerfully reinforce the impact of U.S. security assistance throughout the INDOPAC and strengthen the resolve of allies and partner nations to resist regional encroachment or aggression.
Rapid sharing of multidomain, all-source-based warning of adversary intent is particularly powerful when it can be shared publicly to counter disinformation, compromise threat preparations and serve as a credible basis for a broad range of military and political deterrents.
Cybersecurity in the Digital Battlespace
All these improvements—more powerful software and hardware, secure communications and the ability to rapidly stitch together and analyze massive amounts of information—are a game changer for the intelligence community and, by extension, for joint operations across the DoD that strengthen America’s security.
We are also mindful of the vulnerabilities inherent in enterprise-wide technology solutions that continue to expand across the Internet of Things globally. Cyber threats that used to be largely relegated to large enterprise systems now affect our ability to use digital capabilities that affect every aspect of our daily lives. Almost everything we do is now at some degree of risk—from our nation’s critical infrastructure, telecommunications networks and weapons systems to our personal computers and cellphones.
Organizations facing cyberthreats are embracing zero trust, a security mindset that protects high-value assets in real time. But cybersecurity teams can’t just buy a zero-trust architecture at the store. To put zero trust fully into action, teams must scrutinize an organization’s strengths and challenges and then chart a path to a zero-trust architecture. In this way, organizations can turn core zero-trust principles—assume a breach; never trust, always verify; allow only least-privileged access—into concrete solutions that support key missions and strategic objectives.
For 20 years, Booz Allen has been on the leading edge in the cyber battlespace, identifying and mitigating threats for the intelligence and national security communities. Our talented technologists—digitally savvy, globally distributed and diverse in background and experience—are on the front lines across the federal and commercial space, ensuring that the advantages we enjoy are protected and ready where we need them, when we need them.
Advancing the Power of Information
These core elements—our technological advantages, cyber defenses and innovative tech talent—will help preserve U.S. global leadership and advance the capabilities required to successfully meet current and future challenges in the INDOPAC, Europe and worldwide.
To learn more, visit BoozAllen.com/SIGNALIntel.