Enable breadcrumbs token at /includes/pageheader.html.twig

Naval Intelligence Ramps up Activities

The U.S. Navy is revamping its intelligence structure with a new set of priorities designed to rebuild naval intelligence as well as command upgrades, including a new maritime intelligence office.

In a departure from its recent efforts, U.S. naval intelligence has returned to the front burner of naval operations, in part due to the Global War on Terrorism and the uncertainties exhibited by several nations’ navies.

The Navy is upgrading the position of director of naval intelligence to vice admiral. Vice Adm. David J. Dorsett, USN, the new director, describes naval intelligence as a community undergoing significant changes down to the nature of its mission.

Some changes have been long underway, including a growth in the civilian work force. But other major shifts are relatively new, and some operational architectures are still in the development stage.

The head of the Office of Naval Intelligence has been elevated from captain to rear admiral (upper half), and that office receives four new subordinate commands: the Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center, the Farragut Technical Analysis Center, the John F. Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center, and the Grace Hopper Information Services Center. These four centers will stand up around the end of this month.

The Nimitz center focuses on support to the fleet as well as other U.S. Defense Department organizations involved with maritime operational intelligence activities. The Farragut center aims at developing an understanding of foreign naval weapon systems and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) in the maritime domain. The Kennedy center focuses on supporting Navy special warfare and expeditionary commands. The Hopper center will provide the information technology backbone for naval intelligence.

Naval intelligence also is working to structure interaction with other government organizations that can use or provide valuable intelligence related to seagoing issues. To that end, the Navy is helping create a new entity dedicated to maritime intelligence.

Out of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and the U.S. Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center (ICC) in Suitland, Maryland, is coming a National Maritime Intelligence Center, or NMIC. The NMIC director will be responsible to the director of national intelligence as well as to the director of naval intelligence. Adm. Dorsett offers that the NMIC will be on par with the National Counterterrorism Center and the National Counterproliferation Center, but it will focus on maritime domain issues.

The NMIC will concentrate on the interagency intelligence needs of other government agencies. The NMIC’s director also will serve as the ONI commander, and a Coast Guard rear admiral may be placed as the NMIC’s deputy director.

The Navy's role in the NMIC is commensurate with its quest for intelligence prominence and dominance. The importance of maritime intelligence is being elevated, and its requirements that currently are not being fulfilled will be addressed by the creation of the NMIC, Adm. Dorsett explains.

A major shortcoming exposed by the onset of the Global War on Terrorism was a lack of human intelligence (HUMINT) capability within the Navy, the admiral relates. The Navy has since built up its HUMINT capabilities, and the service is consolidating counterintelligence and HUMINT. Adm. Dorsett explains that because these two functions are similar, they can be combined to break down barriers and improve synergy.

Over the past few years, the Navy made only a limited investment in special warfare, which forced it to realign its forces for ashore counterinsurgency operations or for the war on terrorism. Other disciplines also suffered. Adm. Dorsett relates that his office has invested more than 500 personnel in higher priority efforts, including HUMINT and the Naval Expeditionary Intelligence Command.

His office also is investing in maritime domain awareness and tools that can be migrated into networks. Naval intelligence is evaluating applications and tools that could fit into the Navy’s Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES.

Another ongoing initiative is the fleet intelligence alignment. The admiral shares that the afloat intelligence presence largely has not changed since the Vietnam War era. His office is looking at reducing the afloat footprint to a core capability, to which increased capability would be added in a time of need. Reach-back capabilities would be established in some areas, which would allow the Navy to train large groups of people on land.

Relying on a reach-back capability brings up the issue of bandwidth. Navy ships are extremely limited in bandwidth capacity; and while the Navy is expanding bandwidth, it is not approaching the extent necessary to reach intelligence requirements.

This bandwidth limitation places greater emphasis on ashore analysis, the admiral notes, so that intelligence products instead of raw data flow over the afloat networks. Intelligence officials are considering these factors as they determine the types of intelligence data that flow across the network.

With the Navy moving toward an open architecture, Adm. Dorsett decries the problem of industry providing it with proprietary units. Businesses should partner to deliver open-architecture systems. With these teams working with the Navy, businesses are empowered to develop “the art of the possible” in a way that would meet Navy requirements, he says.

Adm. Dorsett believes industry can help drive acquisition reform. Only by partnering with the Defense Department can industry help bring necessary changes to information technology acquisition. “Frankly, industry can help in one regard: by being vocal about the need for acquisition reform,” he emphasizes. “That’s an area where we can partner.”

Read an expanded version of this article in the February 2009 issue of SIGNAL Magazine, in the mail to AFCEA members and subscribers February 2, 2009. For more information about purchasing this issue, joining AFCEA or subscribing to SIGNAL, contact AFCEA Member Services.