The Military’s Third Offset Strategy and the Revolution in GEOINT

Transforming GEOINT implies an integrated collection approach consisting of diverse sensors and phenomenologies, orchestrated across all domains and leverages government, commercial, and open sources. To accomplish this we have to be able to link airborne and space collection capabilities as well as commercial open source into a “system of systems” that – in the military context -- can counter highly mobile threats such as theater IADS and ballistic missile systems, and maritime threats in a contested environment.

Effective execution of ABI requires a federated architecture, with new mission management and data processing attributes, which will change the way we build and operate entire sensor systems. The Intelligence Community’s IT modernization efforts – you all have heard the term ICITE -- and DoD’s parallel IT modernization toward the Joint Information Environment -- or JIE -- are two critical efforts postured to provide a more effective and affordable information technology environment for data sharing. IC ITE and JIE offer new, exciting, innovative opportunities for national-to-tactical and tactical-to-national integration.

We see a future made up of multiple clouds within the IC and DoD, ranging from small tactical clouds for operational forces to large, data intensive structures in the United States and across the globe, and including both unclassified and multi-level secure clouds. Looking ahead we foresee a more globally dispersed and deployed -- yet better connected and even more effective -- community of defense intelligence analysts than ever before.

Second: Survivable and Resilient Space

Let me now talk about a second area of focus for the Pentagon and our Third Offset Strategy – survivable and resilient space assets.

Unlike our airborne systems, which for the most part have always had to be prepared to operate in a contested environment, space often has been considered a sanctuary. Deputy Secretary Work touched on this recently during the 2016 Space Symposium when he said, “our constellations were optimized for an anomalous world, a brief blip of time when our obvious advantages in space-based capabilities could be fielded and operated with impunity.” Today that is no longer the case. 

The DoD and IC are now emphasizing resiliency for our space programs. Secretary Carter has briefed Congress that we will sustain over the FYDP the more than $5 billion in new investments DOD made last year to make us better postured for contested military operations in space – including over $2 billion in space control efforts to address potential threats to U.S. space systems.

The Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office have taken the lead and are cooperatively working to ensure an integrated approach to resiliency across the space enterprise. Their collaborative efforts will ensure future systems will be built with resiliency considered from the beginning, both within individual systems and from a “system of systems” perspective. New space programs will have resiliency KPPs – Key Performance Parameters.

We have seen the results of this work already shaping our next-generation space systems. 

For example, the recently completed Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Follow-On Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) acknowledged the importance of Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) and evaluated architecture options to meet stringent strategic and tactical warfighting needs. Just as important, the AoA emphasized resiliency against a high-end peer threat in evaluating the architecture options. As the Department makes its final decisions on the SBIRS Follow-On during this fall’s budget review process, resiliency will be a key factor.

Similarly, the NRO is increasing resiliency in the national overhead architecture. As the Department and Intelligence Community define requirements for our collection systems, we want to ensure those systems will be available when we need them most. These considerations have already dramatically influenced our requirements for GEOINT and SIGINT systems.

This presents its own set of challenges. We might have to trade off some collection performance for increased resiliency. Any trades will be decided through a deliberate process and take into account warfighter requirements.

To help offset some of the trades for these resilience capabilities, we will likely look to available commercial or coalition systems to help address some capability shortfalls. As a result, our warfighters may be depending on systems that are not fully resilient. We need industry’s help to come up with innovative ways to make the commercial services we use more resilient and affordable.

A key element of resiliency also is effective command and control of our assets. 

We remain concerned that in the event of conflict involving the U.S. and a near peer adversary, some of the adversary’s early “shots” would likely target space systems. Space situational awareness, a comprehensive operational picture, and the ability to react quickly are critical to operating through those attacks. The Joint Interagency Coalition Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC, is the experimental platform that will determine the command and control functions and capabilities that we’ll need. 

As an early operational and organizational construct of the Third Offset strategy, the JICSpOC will heavily leverage our current and future GEOINT capabilities. Advanced technologies will provide different types of space situational awareness. Deep learning machines will allow us to determine what is happening within the constellation. And human-machine collaboration will provide visualization and battle network tools for the commander to make timely decisions.

To integrate these initiatives requires a governance structure to monitor and oversee the performance of the entire DoD space portfolio. Last fall, Deputy Secretary Work created the Principal Defense Space Advisor (PDSA) position to monitor the portfolio, and formalized a new Space Major Force Program. These efforts are moving the Department to a more cohesive and unified space governance model.

As the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, my office works closely with the Principal Defense Space Advisor, serving as the critical bridge between the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence for all joint intelligence efforts.

These efforts are very exciting and require our best thinking. We on the government side will look to all of you in industry and in the research community to continue to innovate and help us in this journey.

Third: Commercial Space and Partnership

Now to a third area of focus for supporting the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy – commercial space partnerships.

The U.S. Government has benefitted from a strong partnership with traditional commercial imagery partners over the years. Such partners and legacy systems have contributed greatly to foundational GEOINT and to all aspects of the U.S. military’s operations -- in peace, in war and a range of other key missions including natural disasters and humanitarian relief. 

We are seeing great potential in new and upcoming innovative technology and commercial endeavors that will enhance GEOINT and commercial imagery across the board. Beyond today’s existing commercial capabilities, a number of U.S. companies – many of which are represented in this room – are building new commercial constellations, developing a broad spectrum of innovative commercial capabilities, and implementing new ways to access, analyze, and process data into commercially useful information. These advances will prove to be critical enablers for industry users and will likely prove beneficial to the Department as well. Leveraging the right commercial capabilities will provide new sources of timely data and position the Department to better utilize and fuse data from many sources.

As we assess the costs, risks, and benefits of commercial capabilities – individually and collectively – we will seek to fill Defense requirements by balancing the right commercial capabilities with national security equities. As we move forward with the Third Offset Strategy
and towards more machine to machine tipping and cueing, we, government and industry, need to address how to deal with data integrity and pedigree, and information security challenges so the Department can leverage these evolving new commercial capabilities as one of many customers – also without becoming an “anchor tenant”. 

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently endorsed a proposal for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to oversee “non-traditional” commercial space activities. As the “mission authorization” proposal moves forward, it may highlight an important need for a designated U.S. organization responsible for oversight, authorization, management, safe operations, and compliance of such capabilities and missions. As these new capabilities proceed, frank and open discussions together with proactive industry best practices will ensure safe space operations into the future.

Fourth: Coalition Integration

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