News | Dec. 8, 2021

DODIIS Day Three: The value of partnership

By DIA Public Affairs

The third day of the Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference centered on the strategic intelligence advantage that industry and military partnership bring to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Enterprise. Throughout the day, each guest speaker emphasized the value of partnerships in developing intelligence capabilities to overtake those of the Nation’s adversaries.

For 20 years, the DoDIIS Worldwide Conference has served as the largest Intelligence Community IT conference. This one-stop immersive event allows guests to hear from Government leaders, foreign partners, academia and industry, and discuss technical solutions to support the warfighter and the Nation.

Catherine Marsh, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, described how IARPA’s partnerships create disruptive technology capabilities that provide a strategic advantage to policymakers and military decision makers. For Marsh, increasing complexity and speed of technological change require the IC to partner with research and development entities in an environment of open competition, largely unclassified, that encourages data sharing and publication.

“Now, more than ever, discovering and adopting innovative solutions that will help us maintain and grow a competitive strategic advantage over our adversaries is key to our future,” she said. 

Marsh emphasized the important role that failure plays in getting to a viable product at the speed of mission. “Failure is vital for our work,” she said. “You cannot do high-level scientific research without risk. And at some point, risk guarantees failure — and for us, that’s okay.”

Marsh provided numerous success stories of IARPA-funded programs providing solutions to the IC’s most difficult challenges in analysis, collection and quantum computing.

“Reliable intelligence requires analytical techniques that can handle massive amounts of data and deliver relevant, accurate information to decision makers with enough warning that actions can be taken to protect the security of our Nation and its people,” Marsh said. 

Col. Maurizio Calabrese, commander of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, took the podium next to outline NASIC’s unique intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs. Calabrese used a threat-focused perspective to bring a sense of urgency to DoD partners, drawing a picture of China’s accelerating nuclear, missile, airborne, space and remote-sensing capabilities.

Observing behaviors and tracking movements of adversaries through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is necessary for decision makers to have superior information advantage when it comes to authorizing operations.

“Connected, persistent and survivable ISR is the key to linking the sensing grid to the sense-makers who will then use the information to provide options to warfighters,” said Calabrese.

Describing the recruitment and partnership needs of the future, Calabrese prioritized the need for a workforce with different perspectives and thoughts, relating that an individual expert is not nearly as strong as a team of experts.

When Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command, took the stage, he broadened the ongoing discussion of intelligence advantage to one of information advantage, defining it as how the Army cyber enterprise uses protection, denial or manipulation of information to achieve situational understanding, improve decision making and influence outcomes by coordinating all relevant military capabilities. According to Pontius, an information advantage perspective and multi-domain operations drive decision dominance — when a commander can understand, decide, act and assess faster than an adversary.

Referencing the golden hour, a time window during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq when medevac’ing the wounded ensured a greater chance of survival, Pontius described a golden hour in information advantage.

“Whether truth or disinformation prevails in the operational environment is determined by the one key factor of speed,” said Pontius. “Intelligence and information must be able to operate at speed. It’s not something that we need to know months from now — it’s what is relevant right now, today.”

Following a closing video of conference highlights, DIA Chief Information Officer Douglas Cossa thanked the conference organizers, emcees, speakers and participants. Cossa reviewed DIA CIO priorities: JWICS modernization, a strong IT foundation to evolve from, building a workforce of diverse backgrounds and experiences, and the evolution of large area networks and desktop environments.

“CIO’s menu is clear and simple,” Cossa said in parting. “Our tools are mise en place. And with all of you, we have a recipe for success. Bon appetit!”

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