OMAHA, Neb. — The U.S. intelligence community faces great challenges in the next five years as it tries to improve the sharing of data between its 16 member agencies and get that information rapidly to troops, two senior intelligence officials said here Oct. 11.
“I think one of the challenges we face is information sharing and getting it to the warfighter in a timely manner,” said Ted Cody, a senior program manager with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). “We’ve got a lot of stovepipes. You’ve heard all this before but it’s very difficult to tear them down,” he said during a panel discussion on intelligence for strategic forces at the Strategic Space and Defense conference.
The intelligence community is making progress, said Navy Rear Adm. Victor See, director of the Communication Systems Acquisition and Operations Directorate at the National Reconnaissance Office. “I think we are moving in the right direction but obviously there are issues and there is much more for us to do,” he said. “We are sharing more information. We are making progress…”
The bottom line, he said, is that troops have “an insatiable need for this information.”
Part of the problem is that the military intelligence offices that generate data report to different commands, Cody said, and the commands want to control the information. Another issue, both officials said, is cultural, requiring training and education.
And “part of it is programmatics and part of it is dollars,” See said.
See mentioned an Oct. 10 meeting of the Navy’s space leaders held here. “What they want me to help foster is, how are we going to get this information to the fleet in a much more rapid manner,” he said.
The U.S.S. Eisenhower carrier group, for example, has been equipped with “as much space capability as possible, ” See said. It deployed three weeks ago, and the results from the cruise will be used as a template for future training, he said, adding that the Eisenhower experiment has attracted great interest from his naval colleagues, with four other strike groups asking to participate .
There are other programs under way to improve data sharing, particularly with soldiers, airmen and sailors on the front lines.
One of those, See said, is the Pentagon’s Quick Bolt Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD), a four-year program designed to bolster the performance of the Advanced Anti-Radiation Missile against air defense systems.
The ACTD resulted in the missile being able to receive data from national assets for targeting purposes. In an interview after the panel concluded, See said the key technology used in the ACTD is the Embedded National Technical Receiver, which is a computer card. The functions performed by the receiver, he said, were shrunk from what had been a 44-pound box to the computer card.
One wrong road to improving data sharing would be construction of a single space intelligence center, Cody and See said.
“I have a great analogy. What do banking centers do? They have large data centers around the world. Do they control it all from one place? No, they don’t,” See said. “It would be much more vulnerable and make it much harder to move data quickly.”