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Posts Tagged ‘Intelligence Community’

Have a Little Empathy: How to Provide the Best Intelligence Products to Support Customers

Friday, May 18th, 2012

A veteran soldier I respect told me the story of receiving a care package, years ago, while serving in the jungle. Imagine his surprise and laughter when he noticed that the care package included bottles of bubble bath! No doubt, the giver’s heart was in the right place; the gift just wasn’t practical. While this is an exaggeration, there is some truth to it. For the intelligence professional who desires to provide timely, focused, and relevant products, there are some helpful questions to ask to ensure that all products are practical for use. All involve a little empathy—the ability to place oneself in the customer’s position.

Questions every intelligence professional should ask:

  1. What is the customer’s mission? Is he/she protecting a fuel delivery convoy, or pulling security at corps headquarters? Is this a humanitarian mission, such as a mobile medical team, or a raid to apprehend an enemy insurgent? This knowledge will help tailor the product(s) to the right audience.
  2. What kind of bandwidth can this customer support? A Special Forces team at a forward operating base (FOB) may or may not be able to receive sophisticated products such as detailed imagery, which requires excessive bandwidth. Meanwhile, a customer at a main operating base may have no bandwidth restrictions.
  3. How much time does the customer have? Selected Special Forces NCOs, called 18Fs, undergo excellent intelligence training. Still, in a tactical scenario, the team’s 18F likely has other responsibilities. Intelligence is not a full-time job. The client cannot focus solely on intelligence matters. He/she may need simple, relevant, well-marked products that brief themselves. (For example, PowerPoint slides should include complete sentences instead of bulleted phrases.) In other cases, the customer may wish to cut and paste portions of the product into working products.
  4. What customer need does the product fulfill? Does it answer a question the customer is asking? Any intelligence product is useless without a “so what” purpose. Is it to inform the customer? Is it to allow a decision maker to make a choice or assume a risk? If the product does not answer this question, it is useless.
  5. It is always appropriate to contemplate security considerations. After all, legend tells us that the Mongols got over the Great Wall of China by simply bribing selected guards. What is the highest level of classification that the customer’s computer can support? Can he/she move a classified product from one system to another? Does the client have a SCIF or tactical “TSCIF”? Does he/she have the ability to store any classified materials?
  6. What kind of enemy threat exists? Is the customer located on a secure compound, or forward under stealth in enemy territory? A customer on a secure base can make a lot of noise, hang products on the wall, and use multiple computers. A sniper or small tactical unit, on the other hand, might not even be able to “light up” a Tough Book, due to enemy threats.
  7. What kind of training does the customer have? Does it include intelligence training? Again, an 18F has excellent training and knows jargon and abbreviations like PIRs (Priority Intelligence Requirements), LTIOV (Latest Time Information of Value), OCOKA (Observation and Fields of Fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key Terrain, and Avenues of Approach), and ICP (Intelligence Collection Plan). A coalition tactical element may need basic, clear products in simple English, with no slang.

It’s a Special Forces World Now

Friday, April 20th, 2012

It’s no secret that budget cuts will be coming in the near future. For example, the U.S. Army is considering a potential 25% drawdown of its general purpose brigade combat teams. The Army will almost certainly reduce its end strength as well, most likely by tens of thousands of trained soldiers. In response to shrinking budgets and the winding down of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there will also be a diminished need for intelligence analysts. Meanwhile, U.S. Special Operations Forces have no shortage of meaningful missions, realistic training, and resources.

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GEOINT 2011: Key Insights on Intelligence Integration and Future Budget Challenges from the Director of National Intelligence

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

As the key leaders of the intelligence community (IC) convened in San Antonio this week for the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s (USGIF) GEOINT 2011 Symposium, several themes resonated that will impact the future of the IC. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James R. Clapper Jr. opened the event with a keynote speech that laid out his future vision for a more effective community that will increasingly focus on intelligence integration in a time of tremendous budget cuts.

In an effort to enhance integration by developing a unified intelligence strategy, Clapper has already put into place 17 intelligence managers focused on regional and localized problems who will work in concert with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to effectively mitigate any domestic threats. In addition, he acknowledged the power gained through having analysts from different intelligence disciplines all work in one central location.

Clapper also discussed how the online media organization WikiLeaks.com has caused significant challenges when it comes to effective and responsible information sharing in this new environment. However, he reinforced that new processes will mitigate this type of risk. One key element to reduce what he referred to as a “bad apple” experience is the recent executive order that President Obama signed outlining responsible sharing of classified information.

In terms of the more sobering theme—potential budget cuts for the IC—Clapper highlighted how the intelligence community will have to do more with less. One key solution that he highlighted was for the IC to develop a common IT architecture through the cloud that will be more cost-effective, efficient, and driven by members of industry.  The theme of budget cuts was clearly top-of-mind for Clapper and other IC leaders in San Antonio.

One thing that we all have to remember is that the IC’s main focus is to protect the American people—both domestically and abroad. We must always keep in mind that we should not sacrifice the safety of our nation in the name of the bottom line, and it is clear that Clapper is focusing heavily on this challenge.

 

Forging Integrated Intelligence: Next Phase for GEOINT Community

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Next month, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) is hosting its GEOINT 2011 Symposium with the theme “Forging Integrated Intelligence.” It is no surprise that USGIF chose intelligence integration as the theme since it is becoming a key priority for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In addition, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) new efforts to implement “on-demand GEOINT” also tie in well with the concept of better integration and information sharing.

While integration is becoming a priority for leadership and policymakers in the Intelligence Community (IC), the reality is that it has always been critical on the tactical level and it occurs every day. However, this new leadership push for better integration reinforces that it will most likely influence the development of future solutions from industry.

Intelligence analysts from all disciplines work daily in forward-deployed locations where information sharing occurs fairly seamlessly. For example, an NGA analyst can simply walk over to the desk of an all-source analyst to share key GEOINT data that could impact conclusions and recommendations on activities in Afghanistan. In fact, these intelligence professionals collaborate every day to create relevant, multi-discipline intelligence products.

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 reminded the IC of how the tragic terrorist attacks were the turning point for better integration and information. The IC was transformed in the wake of these devastating attacks. As Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper observed, the IC developed a deep sense of responsibility in regard to information sharing after 9/11.

The IC is now facing substantial changes in the post-9/11 world. Despite major troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, the IC still has plenty of meaningful work to do, and intelligence integration will surely play a major role in helping the IC fulfill its missions in this new environment.

 

As Troops Draw Down, Intelligence Community Continues to Provide Meaningful Work

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Since the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks nearly 10 years ago, the United States has undergone unprecedented changes in relation to homeland security and military missions abroad. The U.S. has experienced two significant military engagements and created a new infrastructure and innovative technologies to help keep the nation and its citizens safe.

Without a doubt, the intelligence community (IC) was the behind-the-scenes contributor of the majority of these efforts—especially in regard to U.S. presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near, the U.S. is facing extensive budget cuts while also managing troop withdrawal in these nations.

With these massive changes occurring, many may be wondering about the IC’s role in this new frontier. The reality is that the IC has always played a vital role in national security, and will continue to do so in the face of these changes by contributing in the following ways:

  • Post-Conflict Stabilization: In any post-conflict nation, a tremendous amount of work is required to fully stabilize the nation. From financial systems to host armies and security forces, there must be a path to true stabilization, or localized turmoil could erupt all too quickly and easily.
  • Supporting Host Nations: The IC will continue to play an advisory role for host nations attempting to implement more stabilized governments. The IC often provides security strategies to help host nations keep their citizens safe in ways that help local governments function properly.
  • Training Local Forces: Without proper training and guidance, localized forces can easily fall back into old tribal warfare methods. The IC helps host nations “demobilize” local forces in ways that will prevent them from falling back into long-running tribal feuds.
  • Logistics: The U.S. will need to handle the removal and/or management of key U.S. military equipment and assets. In addition, because there is potential for future military engagements in nations such as Libya, the IC must help manage this equipment to keep it “at the ready” for any future conflicts in the region.
  • Demining and Other Safety Measures: Ensuring the safety of local citizens rests mainly in the ability to demine former war zones. While the U.N. often plays a major role, the IC also helps in these efforts.

While significant numbers of U.S. troops may be leaving Iraq and Afghanistan, the reality is that nation-building will be a longer-term effort. The IC is the key player, helping the State Department, NATO, the U.N., and others tackle the often daunting challenge of creating long-term stability in volatile regions.

Keeping these regions stable is critical to U.S. security and will help ensure that another 9/11 never occurs. Because of this, the IC will continue to perform meaningful work and always strive to keep the nation and world safe.

Second Order Effects: Key to Enhancing Decision Making for the Intelligence Community

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

In the literary classic Beowulf, the main protagonist and title character answers the call from King Hrothgar to kill the evil monster Grendel. Successful in his quest, Beowulf kills Grendel and returns to the King’s castle, victorious. When the celebratory party is in full swing, Grendel’s mother appears seeking revenge. This is a prime example of a second order effect that is very analogous to what often happens in the intelligence community.

Whenever a commander makes a significant decision, intelligence professionals often have to present possible second order effects, which can be positive or negative, for consideration. Often these second order effects are considered and acted upon by commanders.

For example, in Afghanistan, a commander may increase the tempo of operations in an area with difficult terrain, resulting in an increase in soldiers on the ground. As a result, the negative second order effect is the risk to the soldiers. MRAP vehicles have diminished the threat from IEDs and direct fire, but soldiers on foot patrols increase this threat again. Conversely, a positive second order effect is the increased goodwill achieved by patrolling soldiers who interact with the local people.

Similarly, professionals from organizations such as JIEDDO continue to be effective in their efforts against IED threats. These professionals target the IED network, including training, supply, and the technology required to construct and initiate sophisticated IEDs against coalition troops. A positive effect might simply be increased freedom of maneuver for the commander and his subordinates throughout the area of operation (AO). Negative second order effects might include increased numbers of smaller, less sophisticated devices throughout the AO, which could result in increased attacks against the populace. This could also cause the emergence of other threats, such as suicide bombers. Second and even third order effects are something that must be considered and presented to commanders by all intelligence professionals.

And in the case of our hero Beowulf, he overcame his surprise at seeing Grendel’s mother and eventually slayed her as well. The net result was that he became King of the Geats and lived a long, adventure-filled life—a prime example of a second order effect leading to a positive outcome.

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