Focusing Attention on Geospatial Security Needs
|Dino A. Brugioni is a founder of the National Photographic Interpretation Center. He has written extensively on the application of aerial and spatial means of gathering intelligence. He flew on reconnaissance missions during World War II and was in the CIA. He has received many honors, including the Pioneer in Space Medal for his role in helping develop satellite reconnaissance systems. He was recently inducted into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Hall of Fame. Email Dino at email@example.com|
The task of ensuring the national and global security of the United States has assumed a much different character than it did during the Cold War. Today, the world is dealing with more mobile, diverse adversaries and targets than the stationary ones of the Cold War. Such adversaries present a significant challenge to security analysts and policy makers.
Because a significant proportion of future U.S. economic resources will be devoted to meeting national and global security issues, the United States must make the best possible use of these resources. Hence, it should review the opportunities that specific technical solutions offer for identifying and monitoring the movements of potential adversaries. Where does the United States become vulnerable to penetration? How can attempts to penetrate be countered? Today's situation calls for a new approach to gathering and analyzing information and to forming U.S. responses.
The information networks now controlled by many different agencies need to provide for persistent surveillance, time-critical targeting, and rapid movements of forces. Adversaries create paths in their operations that are subject to discovery and counteraction.
The United States currently has a capability to gather by electronic ears and eyes information that can be screened, processed, and analyzed by giant computers working at the rate of billions of bits per second. Future developments could increase that capability dramatically.
|Dino Brugioni, senior officer at the National Photographic Interpretation Center, circa 1963.|
To make the best use of U.S. current and future technology resources, a highly focused effort is needed to assess the role of technology within the total range of U.S. security problems. The United States needs a structure or mechanism to recognize and discern those technologies that could improve its means of discovering and responding to threats to national security. Because technologies provide only part of the solution, it also needs to recognize the important role that national policy considerations play in the equation and to develop policies that make effective use of the needed technologies.
Most of all, presidential commitment to such an enterprise is essential. Similar problems confronted President Eisenhower during the early years of the Cold War. In the face of the threat from the Soviet Union, confusion reigned among his cabinet departments, which failed to employ new scientific discoveries adequately. Duplication of efforts, lack of coordination, bickering, and turf protection were prevalent at all levels of government.
In response to this confusion, President Eisenhower asked Dr. James Killian, president of MIT, to see if a solution could be found that would set the U.S. science and technology effort on a firmer course.
Killian brought together scientists, engineers, and military and communications experts with members of military and civilian agencies to discuss the nation's security problems and to seek solutions in three important areas: defense, offense, and intelligence.
|President Eisenhower's interest in reconnaissance and photo interpretation was evident in the early days of World War II. He is shown reviewing photos obtained by Col. Eliott Roosevelt's North African Photo Reconnaissance Wing. Photo courtesy of the Army Signal Corps.|
Among other critical intelligence gathering technologies, this secret Technology Capabilities Panel (TCP) created the intellectual framework for developing the U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft and the Corona film-return photographic satellite. The world's first meteorological satellite, TIROS, derived in part from this work as well. In addition, the TCP recommended the creation of the National Indications Center, set up expressly to prevent strategic surprise, and the secret National Reconnaissance Office to monitor development and operation of reconnaissance and surveillance satellites. These systems had a major role in keeping the peace by providing critical information about the Soviet threat. The Panel continued to function throughout Eisenhower's administration and members were often called for advice by succeeding presidents.
It is time for a new TCP. Just as the TCP of 1956 led to many innovations, a new panel would also find scientific and technological pursuits to be fertile ground to plow. A new TCP-like panel would define the major security problems and opportunities that will challenge the U.S. over the next 10 to 15 years so presidential decisions can be soundly based. The technology exists to solve these security problems. Geospatial technologies have been and will continue to be a major part of intelligence gathering and analysis.
Too often the organizational aspects of inserting new technologies into the country's response to a threat is given too little attention. Yet, organization in the use of technologies is one of the most critical and important factors for making and executing national security policy; it is time too for competent scientific and technical personnel to review both U.S. policies and technologies and to adopt clear institutional guidelines for carrying out such policies.
Dino A. Brugioni is a founder of the National Photographic Interpretation Center. He has written extensively on the application of aerial and spatial means of gathering intelligence. He flew on reconnaissance missions during World War II and was in the CIA. He has received many honors, including the Pioneer in Space Medal for his role in helping develop satellite reconnaissance systems. He was recently inducted into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Hall of Fame. Email Dino at firstname.lastname@example.org