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News | Aug. 23, 2019

Directors of intelligence discuss modernization, information sharing at DoDIIS Worldwide Conference

By Tyra Virgil Defense Intelligence Agency

Directors of intelligence from five military organizations participated in a panel discussion at the Defense Intelligence Agency Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference, Aug. 21, at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida. 

Moderated by Michael Yambrick, director for Defense Strategic Issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the goal of the panel was to gain a greater understanding of how the broader themes of artificial intelligence, modernization, information sharing, and the impact of big data on the readiness of the military.

Data mapping is a key focus area of U.S. Africa Command, according to USAFRICOM deputy director for intelligence, Brig. Gen. Gregory J. Hadfield, who explained how USAFRICOM has been looking at how to map data in order to get timely, multi-domain, multi-source intelligence to commanders on the ground.

The panel also highlighted information sharing and the importance of close partner engagement. 

Brig. Gen. Dimitri Henry, U.S. Central Command director of intelligence, stressed the importance of breaking down organizational stovepipes and tailored systems within USCENTCOM.

“From where I sit, I’m not in the business of making money,” Henry stated. “I’m in the business of being effective.”

Henry says he does not want to look for tailored solutions that only work for USCENTCOM. Instead he’s interested in shared systems that benefit the community as a whole.

“The environment that we have now is a global environment,” said Henry. “The players and actors in it span the globe and we need to be able to interact with all the other combatant commands, agency partners, and national partners from other nations.”

In addition to the challenges associated with advanced technology, U.S. Special Operations Command Director of Intelligence Keith Lawless, described partner integration as a key challenge.

Lawless explained how USSOCOM is in the process of figuring out how to integrate the wide-range of non-traditional partners.

“The problem that we face now is not the Five Eyes partners,” said Lawless. “Our Five Eyes partners are critical to what we do and what we’re going to do in the future, but we have a variety of non-traditional partners that we rely on.”

Lawless explained that the intelligence community as a whole tends to over compartmentalize and sequester information, and stressed the need to change the culture. 

“We cannot afford to not communicate or touch common data sets,” said Lawless. “I know there’s a balance between security and mission, but we need to make sure we change the way we do business in the future as far as culture is concerned.” 

The panel, which consisted of intelligence directors from U.S. Transportation Command, the National Guard Bureau, U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command, and U.S. Africa Command also highlighted the challenges of intelligence support, the importance of succeeding with the DIA’s Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System, and how to maintain at the speed of technology.