Geospatial Intel Will Grow in Importance
Geospatial Intel Will Grow
in Importance, Official Says
By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media
Washington D.C. — (DoD
News) — June 23, 2015 — The role of geospatial intelligence in
making American special operators the best in the world cannot be understated,
Theresa Marie Whelan, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for
special operations/low-intensity conflict, said here today.
“In the course of the hand-in-glove operational and intelligence work that
has spanned over a decade in two theaters, [special operations forces] operators
and battlespace owners have come to expect premier intelligence collection, data
and all-source analysis that paint a very clear picture of the battlefield,”
Whelan said at the GeoInt Symposium.
The collection of intelligence has changed the way the U.S. military does
business, she said. “I believe the relationships between the intelligence
community, the operators and the policy-making communities are more productive
now than ever,” Whelan said.
Whelan said she’s concerned about traditional state-on-state actors learning
from terror groups. Last year, Russia used hybrid tactics to illegally annex
Crimea, she said.
And, she added, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on to order hybrid
warfare in Eastern Ukraine -- a battle still being waged.
“In this rapidly evolving yet complex threat environment, there is some
comfort to be found in the capabilities and relationships we have honed in the
last 14 years,” Whelan said.
“The collateral benefit of the intense counterterrorism fight in Iraq and
Afghanistan is a finely tuned, hand-in-glove GeoInt and SOF relationship,” she
said. “This relationship will be critical to leverage as we deal with newly
emerging state-based challenges.”
Over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has
refined the technology and ability to layer imagery with data from other
intelligence disciplines, Whelan said.
“We’ve created a new expertise in geospatial collection and analysis which
has really been nothing short of groundbreaking,” she said.
Real-time imagery became a crushing advantage, Whelan said. “We are now able
to convey information that is reliable and uniquely capable of filling gaps from
other intelligence disciplines to warfighters and policy makers with incredible
speed,” she said.
All Domains Contested
The demand for intelligence will increase, Whelan said. “In many ways, we’re
in a 'Back to the Future' mode,” she said. “We’re confronting variations on Cold
War challenges, but with a more sophisticated set of adversaries. Fortunately,
we are also a better-positioned opponent.” East Asia is an example of an
environment America must adapt to, Whelan said.
“East Asia is the most militarized area of the world,” she said. “The
advanced weaponry there, coupled with the sheer size of the region, presents
stark realities for U.S. basing and power projection.”
The area has sophisticated warning systems and “very mature”
intelligence agencies, she said, and all domains are contested. “We need to
synchronize efforts across domains and think creatively about how to use our
most unique national assets,” Whelan said. “SOF is one tool in the kit, and
success has created new demands. The demand for near-perfect situational
awareness from commanders is insatiable and is here to stay.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)
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