Posts Tagged ‘GEOINT and MorganFranklin’
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.
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.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
As members of the intelligence community (IC), we are highly trained and work on very important and sensitive assignments. While it goes without saying that protecting our national assets both at home and abroad requires a high level of passion, tireless dedication, and extreme attention to detail, there are patterns that intelligence and imagery analysts can easily fall into that can compromise the overall effectiveness of our efforts. After all, we are human.
Conversely, because we are human, we can always improve our skills and efforts. One of the best ways to improve our efforts is by taking a hard look at the pitfalls that we confront on a daily basis.
- Argument to the Stick – We have all been in forums where someone—perhaps in a position of authority—asks something like, “Nobody here is stupid enough to believe the Steelers will really win the Super Bowl this year, right?” This kind of statement is illogical and stifles debate. Regarding sports, it can be endearing and even humorous. But when dealing with substantive discussions, such as a potential enemy course of action (COA), the stakes are high and “argument to the stick” can be dangerous, shutting down potential dialogue that may determine the appropriate course of action.
- Missing the Big Picture – Imagery analysts are required to research, assess, integrate, manipulate, exploit, extract, and analyze full-motion video as well as satellite imagery. These tasks require a keen eye for detail, but because we are detail-oriented, we often miss the “big picture.” As such, we may need to step back to fully understand the core of a mission and its goals. Once this is achieved, the details will fall into place.
- Group Think – Often when subordinate advisors are in awe of a leader and believe that he/she has already made their decision, we fall into a “group think” mode where we automatically agree with the leader or the group in general. For example, when President Kennedy asked his advisors for their counsel on a potential Bay of Pigs invasion, he was well respected and most thought he was already in support of the idea. As a result, nobody spoke up to articulate the significant risk of mission failure—or the implications for the United States’ image throughout the world.
- Mirror Imaging – When we think about a COA only from our own subjective point of view, we do not take into account the unorthodox tactics that the enemy may employ. For example, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, most intelligence professionals were convinced that such an attack just didn’t make sense. At the time, the potential bad outweighed short-term advantages that the Japanese would gain. Despite this logic, the Japanese concluded that a surprise attack was their best COA to knock out the U.S. as a potential opponent in the Pacific Theater.
- Personal Biases – Personal biases spring from our culture, education, and upbringing—and we all have them. All too often, intelligence and imagery analysts fall back on their personal biases when making decisions, sometimes without being fully aware of it. There are many examples throughout history where personal biases influenced decisions and outcomes. For example, General Custer did not believe that the American Indians would take a stand against him, but history proved that his personal bias and views got him into trouble.
Working in high-stakes environments where the margin of error is miniscule, imagery and intelligence analysts often need to take proactive steps to break daily patterns that can compromise our work. While we are only human, the job often requires us to perform at levels beyond human abilities. And when it comes to saving lives and protecting our nation, there is no room for error.