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News | Aug. 23, 2019

Defense Intelligence Agency highlights the importance of integration with coalition partners

By Tyra Virgil Defense Intelligence Agency

The Defense Intelligence Agency’s Deputy Director for Commonwealth Integration, Maj. Gen. John Howard spoke about the importance of integration and partnership at this year’s DIA Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference, Aug. 19, in Tampa, Florida.

“Integration is not a one-way discussion,” Howard stated. “Integration is really hard work, more so if you have no framework to help you get to yes.”

According to Howard, integration helps build more of a lethal force, strengthen alliances, attract new partners, and reform the department for greater performance and affordability. Howard stressed the importance of building trust to help improve intelligence integration between nations no matter how difficult. 

“Trust is the glue that binds a coalition," said Howard. "Trust is a human condition, it must be earned and built up over time. ... You have to be able to build trust and in this domain you have to be able to trust the data.”

Howard noted that a challenge with building trust and integrating efforts is understanding the network. 

“Sometimes we don’t know what other agencies or entities are doing let alone task forces, nor do we understand what the opportunities are from perhaps where a partner may view things in the world,” said Howard. “Sometimes we don’t even want to get out and talk to [partners] because we have not been enabled by policy or culture to drive that discussion. If we can understand our own network better, then we’ll be able to be more agile.”

Howard is the Agency’s second deputy director for commonwealth integration and in the last 18 months has played an integral role in shifting the culture. 

“Fundamentally, I’m here to do one thing inside DIA and that is to shift the discussion from about policy to what does the operating model for integration for the future look like,” explained Howard. 

DoDIIS is the largest IC conference that brings together experts from government, military, industry and academia in order to tackle the information technology challenges and complexities impacting the mission user.