Intell in midst of 'renaissance'

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The Defense Department, the CIA and other members of the national security intelligence community are in the midst of a "renaissance," thanks to some recent restructuring efforts, improved technology and an infusion of funding dedicated to future efforts, according to one DOD intelligence official.

Richard Haver, special assistant to the secretary of Defense for intelligence, Stephen Cambone, said the recent creation of Cambone's position, as well as the ongoing development of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, will enhance the relationship among DOD and CIA leaders by providing a direct track for support. He said the old system required multiple levels of bureaucracy.

Speaking May 6 at the AFCEA International conference in Washington, D.C., Haver said DOD and intelligence agencies received a "substantial increase in resources" in the most recent budgets. The money will be used to enhance the nation's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, information management, and information warfare capabilities.

He added that much of the funding boost came as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but that it was "already in the works" because the Bush administration recognized the need to improve intelligence systems and processes.

"Now, the challenge is to invest wisely" and be prepared for future threats, he said.

Haver, a former Navy intelligence analyst, said he thinks the community is beginning a "renaissance" but is also at a "crossroads and identical situation as it was in the late 1960s," when industry produced solutions that helped the United States gain a tremendous advantage over Russia in the Cold War.

"The U.S. [personnel] knew more about the Russian weapons systems than their negotiators did," he said. "We need to reinvent this community again" through government and industry partnerships aimed at attracting talented young professionals.

Haver said he doesn't like the term "information superiority" because all the information in the world is meaningless without "decision superiority," and the key to achieving that is quickly merging information and intelligence and putting it to use. He added that U.S. intelligence analysts must also make an effort to "know what we don't know," which is difficult since most systems "don't cue us to the unknowns; they cue is to the knowns."

As an example, Naval intelligence officers searching for enemy submarines come up with nothing about 90 percent of the time. But when they do identify something, it is usually because they are "getting something out of all those zeros," Haver said.

"Analysts are always looking for context and comparing new intelligence to information they already know," Haver told FCW. "That used to be done by memory, but systems that do that in an automated way make them 100 times more efficient. You're never going to take people out of the game, but if we make them more efficient, that's the key."

The current infusion of funding and other resources won't have an impact this year or next, but is aimed at the end of this decade, with a goal of better protecting U.S. secrets, while simultaneously ensuring that "our adversaries' secrets are not safe matter what they do."


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