Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright urged sweeping changes to the way the United States develops intelligence systems and stressed the need to get more electro-optical resources to warfighters in an
Oct. 22 speech at the Geoint 2007
Symposium in San Antonio.
Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said the acquisition incentive structures must
be overhauled to provide the best and most integrated intelligence information to the nation’s warfighters.
“It’s going to take more than just rearranging the deck chairs,” Cartwright said in his keynote speech. “The incentive structures are inherently wrong. They incentivize a program manager for a specific platform, and that’s it.”
Cartwright said each military
customer needs to define the need –
not the suppliers. The technical architecture to do that is out there, he said, but because no single branch of the armed forces has the resources to develop such an architecture, the incentive to pursue it does not exist.
Cartwright also pressed the issue of getting more full-motion video capabilities to joint coalition troops at war. Radar is a good capability for detecting movements in places where they are not expected, he said, but the irregular warfare faced by troops in Iraq requires visualization of the enemy. Even though electro-optical intelligence like full-motion video can be hampered by low light and poor weather conditions, the information it can provide is essential, Cartwright said.
“The technology’s there to get broadband coverage,” he said “But somehow we’ve got to find a way to get that resolution to the battlefield.”
The government also needs to ease the regulations imposed on commercial satellite imagery providers, Cartwright said. The artificial constraints are handcuffing the industry, and loosening them will allow a more successful business model, he said.
The United States also needs to get away from financing single, large, expensive imagery satellites and move toward fleets of satellites that can provide more information on a more responsive basis. This will provide
more resilience, survivability and usability,
“We cannot stay on the path we are on and expect to be successful with just a few exquisite sensors,” Cartwright said. “We have to get commercial into the hunt, we have to broaden this industry, we have to incentivize it and take the handcuffs off. And we’ve got to do it now.”
When it comes to missile defense, Cartwright said many more sensors and systems are needed.
“If you say, I want to be able to knock down every ballistic missile that becomes airborne off the face of the Earth: I’ve got to see it; I’ve got to be able to track it, fix on it and knock it down. And one system’s just not going to be good enough. I’m going to have to rely on sigint (signals intelligence), whether it be terrestrial, air or space imaging or IR (infrared) – a suite of sensors that’s much broader than just one, that has global perspectives. This concept of any weapon, any sensor: it’s where we want to be and it’s where we’re heading in missile defense.”
Cartwright also criticized the way the United States withholds information from it allies – even on the battlefield. “It’s okay for an Aussie to be in a foxhole with you, to die for you, but it’s not okay to tell him which way the threat’s coming from? We have to be able to differentiate between what it is we really want to keep secret and the perishability of that information. When it’s marked, and when it’s available, and when there are schemes to protect what we need to protect, then not sharing [information] is unacceptable to me.”