Perspective – Trajectory Magazine http://trajectorymagazine.com We are the official publication of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) – the nonprofit, educational organization supporting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:12:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.4 https://i2.wp.com/trajectorymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cropped-TRJ-website-tab-icon-1.png?fit=32%2C32 Perspective – Trajectory Magazine http://trajectorymagazine.com 32 32 127732085 The Democratization of Entity Resolution http://trajectorymagazine.com/democratization-entity-resolution/ Wed, 31 Jan 2018 17:25:49 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=35826 Q&A with Jeff Jonas, founder and CEO, Senzing

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Jeff Jonas, founder of Senzing

Prior to July 2016, acclaimed data scientist Jeff Jonas was an IBM fellow and the company’s chief scientist of context computing. In August 2016, Jonas founded Senzing, a spin out of IBM focused on delivering easy-to-use, affordable, smart, real-time entity resolution to the world at large.

Jonas’ work played a role in defeating card count teams as depicted in the book Bringing Down the House and the movie 21. He is currently the author or co-author of 14 patents. Jonas was briefly a quadriplegic in 1988 following a car accident. Since then, he has fully recovered to compete in more than 50 Ironman triathlons and is one of only four people to complete every Ironman triathlon in the world. Jonas is also a member of USGIF’s Board of Directors.

Can you tell us about Senzing?

I proposed a one-of-a-kind spinout to IBM, and we spun out a license for the source code, the rights to practice some patents, and some core team members. It has turned into a really unique and fantastic partnership, and has allowed my team to get singularly focused on democratizing entity resolution (ER). We are headquartered in Venice Beach, Calif., but have people located all over the country.

What is entity resolution?

Senzing’s mission is ER—it’s all we do. All organizations have duplicate identities in their data. On your phone you probably have duplicates. Imagine this problem for a bank, social service agency, or healthcare organization with tens or hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of identities to manage. Anyone managing identity lists has a need for ER.

A marketing department trying to remove duplicates from their mailing list is the simplest use case. Most organizations purchase expensive and complicated ER products that are difficult to use and require experts. Or they try to perform ER themselves, which is even more challenging and requires a team of programmers—some companies have 10, 20, or more engineers dedicated to building ER. Our mission is to democratize ER—to make world-class ER easy and affordable.

Our ER software, G2, helps organizations find non-obvious connections in their data. For a bank, are you looking at five customers each with one bank account or one customer with five bank accounts? ER is also ideal for insider threat detection, like finding the nexus between a former employee that was fired and an insider threat investigation.

How might ER be useful to the Intelligence Community?

Intelligence is often about keeping an eye out for bad guys, for example to make sure they’re not coming into the country or showing up on the radar in some surprising way. Historic intelligence failures are often because the dots weren’t connected fast enough.

You have to be able to do fuzzy matching to find clever criminals. As such, ER must take into account things like name misspellings, messy addresses, and number transpositions. It must see through all of this fuzziness to determine who’s who. Roughly 50 companies sell some form of ER, but we’re the only one that does so using real-time machine learning (ML). Most ML you have to teach, tune, and reload. Our method is self-tuning and self-correcting in real time, without reloading. It just gets smarter as you go forward, and that eliminates the need for experts.

What are the implications of ER for the GEOINT Community, more specifically?

ER allows data without a geographic location to be combined with data containing a geographic location. When such records resolve, data previously without location can be mapped.

What do you mean by the “democratization” of ER?

We are making ER very easy to use, literally for the first time. As long as someone can use Microsoft Excel they can resolve entities. For example, if you buy a marketing file, how can you be sure you’re not marketing to people who are already customers?

Or, one of our customers does supply chain risk assessment for global brands. They use ER to scrape lists looking for derogatory information about their vendors, such as toxic spills or child labor. ER allows them to go back to their customer and say, for example, “Do you realize your manufacturer is in trouble for three toxic spills and child labor? This could place your brand’s reputation at risk.”

G2 is quite versatile. For example, since 2012, an early version of G2 has been used by the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) nonprofit organization to modernize voter registration in America. As of December, one third of the country runs on this system and both Democrats and Republicans love it. It’s a great system, and one of the systems I’m most proud of.

Some experts say a global artificial intelligence (AI) “arms race” is beginning to unfold. What are your thoughts on this?

AI and ML have captured everybody’s imagination. They are currently overhyped, but I still think it would be foolish to not make the most of them. AI will be a key differentiator for how people compete, whether banks competing with banks, governments competing with other governments, or law enforcement competing with organized crime. Regarding the notion of an arms race, I think technology has always been an arms race and this is just another flavor. Certainly you’re going to have to be better at it than your adversary if you want to remain competitive.

What’s in store for the future of Senzing?

My team and I collectively have more than 200 years of ER experience. ER is a huge market and we’re going to serve every corner of it. Our style of ML is unique and tailored to the kind of analytics required to conduct real-time ER. We have a long list of advanced features, though we are now focused on masking G2’s sophistication to make it smart enough that it runs itself—like a giant easy button.

The basics of this technology have been around for a while. It’s getting smarter and smarter but it has always been complex and difficult to deploy. The next evolution is making it easier and more affordable so it doesn’t take an army of systems integrators and lots of time and money to implement.

Headline Image: Jeff Jonas addresses young professionals during a mentoring session in the USGIF booth at the GEOINT 2013* Symposium.

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Mission First http://trajectorymagazine.com/mission-first/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 14:45:30 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=35056 Q&A with Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert “Rosie” A. Rosenberg, former director of the Defense Mapping Agency

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Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert “Rosie” A. Rosenberg Photo Slideshow

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Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert “Rosie” A. Rosenberg served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and was instrumental in the U.S. satellite program. He participated in the initial development, testing, and launch of what became National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite systems, later serving as mission controller of on orbit reconnaissance satellites. He also served as acting director of the NRO staff, and then was intelligence and space policy advisor on the National Security Council. Rosenberg was director of the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), a predecessor to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), from 1985 to 1987. During his tenure as director, Rosenberg made DMA essential to the success of the nation’s military operations capabilities. At the GEOINT 2017 Symposium, USGIF named Rosenberg the recipient of its Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award.

Q: How did you get involved in GEOINT and what do you consider some of your most significant contributions to the tradecraft?

I got into this business almost 60 years ago. At the beginning of the Cold War the world was a frightening place. Knowing what went on behind the Iron Curtain was critical to our survival. President Eisenhower was concerned—was there really a capability gap? Or was the military industrial complex driving us into an arms race? With the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik and later its shoot down of an American U-2 spy plane, Eisenhower had no choice but to establish NRO to put reconnaissance satellites into space. We were being denied the ability to fly reconnaissance aircraft over the Soviet Union.

I was lucky to be there at the start of NRO. From ’58 to ’62, I was involved in factory testing and launching of the Samos, Midas, and Corona reconnaissance satellites. From ’64 to ’68, I was the mission controller for both the Corona and Gambit reconnaissance satellites. It was my responsibility to respond to the targeting requirements from the Intelligence Community (IC) and make sure we got cloud-free pictures of the Soviet Union. We were limited on how many pictures we could get because we used film. I did many things to establish highly efficient imagery collection to maximize the number of highest value photos on each mission.

In ’71, I was responsible for developing Hexagon satellite mission planning and command and control software based on the experiences I had in both Gambit targeting and mission control for the Corona system. Hexagon permitted us to dramatically improve our ability to rapidly cover and revisit vast areas of the communist world at a resolution previously not thought possible.

I was pulled into the NRO staff in Washington from ’73 to ’75. My contribution there included making sure DMA mission requirements were supported—while many at the time didn’t think this was important.

I moved on to the National Security Council (NSC) staff under both Presidents Ford and Carter, where I was the intelligence and space policy officer. While there, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)—in wanting to make himself look good with Carter, who wanted to reduce both the defense and intelligence budgets—suggested we cancel the Hexagon program. I argued with a four-star admiral in front of the President (I was a colonel then) and persuaded Carter to keep Hexagon operating.

From ’85 to ’87, I led DMA and with it the effort to modernize the mapping, charting, and geodesy process. Congress had passed a law making DMA a combat support agency. My job was to implement that. As director of DMA, I learned what capabilities programs like Hexagon and Gambit brought to geospatial world. This enabled us to dramatically improve our knowledge and provide combat forces with previously unheard of location accuracies that allowed the development of weapons like cruise missiles, other “smart” weapons, and medium-range ballistic missiles.

When we gave tours of DMA we would describe the digital brains of the smart weapons we made as ‘Rosie’s AAA TripTiks.’ The things we built would guide cruise missiles to their targets. Later, during the Iraq War, my son called me and said, ‘Dad, cruise missiles are flying down the streets of Baghdad using your AAA TripTiks.’ All of these things collectively helped turn the tide of the Cold War.

Q: Could you describe your role in helping to create NGA?

After Desert Storm, I served on the Gates Blue Ribbon Committee on Imagery. In ’92, we recommended to the DCI and the secretary of defense the establishment of what we called a national imagery agency, which ultimately became NGA.

Many Defense Science Board studies I served on showed a repeat of issues still unresolved from the Gulf War. The Gulf War had left in its wake a sense of dissatisfaction about imagery support to operations. DCI Bob Gates commissioned a task force to examine these issues. We carefully studied them and recommended the establishment of an agency that would include DCI requirements, the National Photographic Interpretation Center, Defense Intelligence Agency imagery analysts, and DMA. Our report recommended placing the new agency in the DoD because the Defense Department was both the primary user of imagery products and the location of major problems such as integrating the tasking of tactical assets with strategic and national assets.

I argued with those who said their job was to support the president, not military operations. And I would say, ‘Military operations are what the commander in chief is responsible for.’ I was not very popular in some arenas. Initially, a Central Imagery Office was created under the DoD on a more limited basis than was recommended by our task force. Later, in ’96, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) was established. Our badgering of DoD and DCI leadership began this process, and it matured significantly as NGA in the Clapper era.

Q: How has the creation of NGA since benefited the geospatial industry and the nation?

I want to give James Clapper a lot of credit. The various fiefdoms that had been forced to stand up NIMA still owed their loyalty to where they came from. But NGA created a true geospatial information system, so GEOINT became the cornerstone of national security through its place at the center of many diverse intelligence methods. To help all that along, NGA has established a lot of academic and business opportunities to better serve our nation’s needs that didn’t exist in my day.

When Clapper took over NGA at a very trying time, I was running an operations advisory board for him, and he said, ‘Rosie, why can’t I use Google Maps?’ And I said, ‘Because your contracts, security, acquisition people, and lawyers all say it’s in violation of DoD regulations. They come up with all kinds of reasons because they don’t want to lose control. So, tell your staff that is intolerable reasoning. Get Google Maps!’

Guess what? The DoD and IC now use Google and a whole host of other commercial applications. NGA is a leader in making that happen. Through research, grants, and small business initiatives, NGA is embracing the private sector to lead a convergence of geospatial information not only for the IC, but also for a better society.

And the creation USGIF—the only organization of its kind aimed at bringing together the GEOINT sector. As part of the Foundation’s mission, NGA leadership personally participates in the GEOINT Symposium, lecture series, and everything you do.

Q: You have a reputation for not being afraid to “break the rules” in the name of progress. Could you provide some examples of instances in which this approach served you well?

Well, I’ve got a long list! I guess that’s why I only made two stars instead of four. [Laughs]

Some of my proudest moments are when I was working on the NSC. I had discovered a program called GPS, which the Air Force was not interested in and which wasn’t included in the Secretary of Defense’s budget to the White House. I snuck it in, and that originated the funding of GPS. After it went to Capitol Hill, I got a phone call from an Air Force three-star saying, ‘I don’t know who you think you are but your career is over, you put that useless piece of space junk in the budget.’

That fight was not over when I left the Pentagon and went back to the Air Force. I ran the Air Force operations research organization as HQ USAF assistant chief of staff and forced the full funding of GPS even though the air staff was not all that excited about such a program. My operations research analysis led the chief of staff and secretary of the Air Force to overrule the naysayers and approve the program.

GPS is now a critical element of the geospatial information foundation and it was essential to make our military and intelligence programs far more successful.

Later, I was running a GPS advisory board for the Air Force. In Afghanistan, the Air Force only supported requirements for 24 GPS systems around Earth. There were several hours per day in which GPS was not available to our military because of the wicked, mountainous terrain that interfered with having three satellites in the line of sight, which is mandatory to get a GPS signal. We had six spares in orbit. I led an operational analysis that showed if we changed the orbital structure to 27 it would dramatically improve the availability and significantly improve the accuracy. And, by the way, our enemies in Afghanistan knew when we didn’t have coverage and that’s when they did their critical operations.

I took this study to Space Command leadership who in turn shared it with Strategic Command, which challenged my recommendation. I said on the day before Christmas, ‘Move them now or my next call is to the Sec Def!’ That Christmas Eve, the order was made to start moving the extra satellites, and soon the commanders of both Space and Strategic Command were briefing the press about how they were dramatically improving the availability of GPS and its precision to our warfighters in Afghanistan.

It’s our job to ensure our GPS is the gold standard rather than a foreign technology. It’s also important for the national economy and for U.S. leadership in technology around the world. America’s advanced GPS is now the international gold standard for space-based positioning, navigation, and timing. I’m proud to have been a part of that.

Q: What do you think are promising future applications of GEOINT that benefit not only national security, but society as well?

I prefer to call it geospatial information rather than GEOINT. It’s much broader than just national intelligence. Human trafficking, animals, criminals and parolees, equipment, disease, shipments and containers, vehicle fleets, and railroads. Tracking these things using all the information flow we have over time and location presents tremendous opportunity for improvement in all areas.

The most important thing to do with that tracking is threat prediction. The world is such a more dangerous place with terrorist threats, crazy things going on inside our country from radical groups right here—not overseas. We need to do a far better job of integrating what are currently stray pieces of information.

Another area I think has a lot of future applications is safety of aviation operations given the proliferation of robots in the air. We’re going to have a wreck if we don’t get this straightened out.

Geospatial information can also affect emergency services, earthquake prediction, and weather prediction. Here in the U.S., we already apply GPS to farming, and there is a lot of improvement to be made internationally. It’s better for our society to make other countries better.

GIS capabilities will help fulfill transformational needs to protect the homeland. It provides human assistance and disaster relief. GIS will also serve a central role as the government leverages information technology.

When I was director of DMA, I visited the Combatant Commands we supported. When I went to see the leader of Special Operations Command, I told him, ‘You’ve got so many requirements for immediate production of updated maps and charts—can’t you slow this down?’ He said, ‘When the President calls me and says your job is to get our people out of harm’s way in an embassy overseas I have to deploy SOF forces right now whether I have any maps or charts from you or not!’

The better our exploitation of geospatial information, the stronger our military operations are.

Q: Given your successful career of more than 50 years, what advice do you have for future GEOINT leaders?

While it may sound like advice just for military folks, this is intended for civil servants and future commercial world leaders as well. Focus first on mission. That’s what you are here for. Make sure what you do is right, not what is the rhetoric of flawed, outdated policy. Demand that such be changed.

The mission is not to follow the regulation book but to provide operational military capabilities vital to our nation’s survival and freedom. Break down barriers that prevent sensible solutions.

Focus on those whom you serve. Make them understand the right way ahead. Your boss is not always right—as matter of fact, he or she is wrong a lot of the time. Earn the trust of your bosses. I was fortunate to have bosses who tolerated near anarchy from their smart people, and I adopted that style the rest of my career.

When I took over DMA, I met with my leadership and told them we were going to turn DMA into a combat support agency under the proposed new legislation. I said, ‘I cannot stand yes men’ and told the story of Aesop’s fable and the king who had no clothes. A senior civil servant at DMA came to me afterward and said, ‘You’ll probably fire me, but you have no clothes.’ He gave me list of things that needed to be done at DMA to become a successful combat support agency. I did everything he suggested and made much more effective operations as a result.

Focus on the future. You are responsible for the freedom and good life of future generations, not just your own. As you climb the ladder, remember good managers only do things right. Good leaders do the right things. You have to operate outside the box. You have to take risks. Followers never fail. It’s only people who take risk and fail that learn how to become leaders. As a leader, don’t issue orders and expect to be followed. Roll up your sleeves, get your fingers dirty, and lead by example. People will understand you mean business. Empower people. Make change the baseline. Never be satisfied with the status quo. You need to be able to look in the mirror and be proud of what you’re doing. You must never think about what to do to get promoted. Do the above and you will serve your business, country, and society best. Promotions will follow.

I like to quote President JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

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The Future of Firefighting http://trajectorymagazine.com/the-future-of-firefighting/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 13:00:45 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=35119 Q&A with Kate Dargan, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Intterra Group; former California State Fire Marshal

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Kate Dargan is co-founder and chief strategy officer for Intterra Group, helping to bring innovative geospatial and remote sensing solutions to first responders. Prior to founding Intterra, Dargan was the first woman to become State Fire Marshal for California. She has 30 years of firefighting experience. Dargan is also a member of USGIF’s Board of Directors.

What were some of your early experiences with geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and firefighting?

My early days were right out of high school in 1977. I was among the first women hired by CAL FIRE—then called the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF). I started as a seasonal firefighter responding to large wildfires, and 1977 was a record-setting year.

Kate Dargan Photo Slideshow

[See image gallery at trajectorymagazine.com]

In 1980, I became full-time and started progressing through the ranks—from firefighter to fire engineer to fire captain. It was as captain that I started engaging with remote sensing. One of my assignments was air attack officer, which means essentially forward air traffic control over wildfires. I flew on an OV-10 Bronco for seven years as an eye-in-the-sky translating a map of what I was looking at from several thousand feet aloft to the firefighters on the ground. They had no other way to get that information.

That really gave me an appreciation for how difficult it was to translate visual information into a radio and paint a picture in someone’s head of what you’re looking at. Secondly, some of the technologies that came online in the late ’90s and early 2000s with infrared and mapping were making our world much easier. We experimented with holding a video camera in our hands while we flew so we could have video imagery. I gained a real sense of why we needed to be pursuing these technologies because so many things were advantaged with that perspective.

How did you gain an interest in community resilience?

When I went on to become a fire marshal in Napa County—wine country—I became very engaged with the prevention and mitigation parts of the equation and how to educate and prepare communities to survive wildfires.

In 2003, I was assigned to the Cedar Fire, which was one of California’s historic loss fires. It burned a fair chunk of San Diego County and killed many people including some firefighters. It was a traumatic experience for everyone involved, and it generated in me a strong commitment to firefighter and community safety in firefighting and mitigation. I started looking for ways to use remote sensing for that problem as well.

What led you to become a co-founder of Intterra?

It was also around 2003 that I met my Intterra co-founders, David Blankinship and Brian Collins, through a mutual colleague. They were doing some amazing, innovative work with hyperspectral imaging analysis of watershed areas surrounding Colorado Springs. That translated into wildland fire fuels and rooftop analysis—flammable roofs. It was simply the best idea I’d seen in a long time relative to helping firefighters on the ground with detailed information. I became both a fan and an advocate. These bright people had taken a technology used for other purposes and reapplied it to a new use. It was one of those light bulb experiments where you see how the future might look 20 to 30 years down the road. We kept up a professional relationship for several years.

When Gov. Schwarzenegger appointed me to State Fire Marshal in 2006 I took the opportunity to expand and advance some of the remote sensing work we could do. We looked at things like LiDAR for forestry assessment, hyperspectral imagery (HSI) for community wildfire mitigation, and real-time infrared for firefighter safety. But there was no way to unite the various remote sensing products into a common platform for firefighters or planners. It was very technical and cumbersome and required a lot of analysis.

When I retired from the State Fire Marshal position in 2010, I went back to those colleagues and we talked about how we were still bumping our heads up against this problem. We said it’s been seven years and no one else is fixing it, so let’s start a company and build the right kind of software that can do what we’ve been struggling with. Since founding Intterra we’ve been working to build the capability to bring large amounts of data—including a lot of remotely sensed data from satellite and drone imagery, ISR products, and interpretive LiDAR and HSI products—into a situational awareness platform designed for fire departments.

It’s an eye-opener when folks see they can have all sorts of data streams plugged into a single device at their fingertips. That’s a game changer. Our clients range from the U.S. Forest Service to small, rural fire departments. That’s one of the things unique to the public safety world. When you’re focused on the military or federal world as a vendor you have a pretty homogenous client. In public safety, the tools have to be flexible enough to handle that disparity between large and small organizations.

How does GEOINT contribute to real-time firefighting and mitigation?

All phases of the emergency management cycle are advantaged with remote sensing. An example currently in use in the planning and mitigation phases is rooftop analysis. In the wildfire community, this allows you to assess a community’s vulnerability without having boots on the ground. You can find wood as opposed to concrete or shingle/tile roofs and assess fuel in terms of structure. ‘Is it eucalyptus, pine, juniper? Are palm trees adjacent? How far are they from the structure?’

You can predict fire behavior close enough to the structure to impact it or to create embers that are going to flow downstream. You can mix vegetative information with building information from rooftops, then marry it with GIS information of roadways, water sources, and historic fire information for patterns of behavior. When you put all of this together you have a tactically oriented map firefighters can use to decide which houses are safer to protect, which are riskier to protect, and where to stage equipment at the incident.

That model is directly out of the military paradigm of ‘shaking the battlefield,’ making sure conditions for success have been enhanced so the tactical fight is to your advantage. It’s not just about getting data into the hands of firefighters, but also about the ability to deliver large volumes of information served up to each person in an organization the way they need to use it. That’s where industry can really help the public safety world.

How does GEOINT yield a return on investment for fire departments?

The amount of detail a fire department can acquire and put to use through remote sensing is unavailable anywhere else accept boots on the ground. As we’ve shifted to an electronic medium we have the ability to take an aerial base map and electronically create that same building footprint or wildland area. It’s not just a static, electronic picture. We can now add data and refresh during an emergency. That is very different for the fire service. They’re not used to having that much information available to them during the decision-making phase of response. Remote sensing is arriving so quickly we’re struggling to figure out ways to use that data inside the mission. The information has to fit into the pattern and flow of how we fight fires, not disrupt it.

What do you anticipate for the future of firefighting technology?

Remote sensing products are arriving with exponential growth. So much of it is headed our way that the general public isn’t even aware of yet. Those capabilities, whether it be small drones or a large, near-real-time satellite network, are going to effect almost every moment of our decision-making process. A firefighter of tomorrow will be used to seeing their response area in an aerial viewpoint rather than through the windshield or via Google Earth. They will have constant access to what their district looks like at that moment, where they are within that area, where their adjacent units are, and the homes, building material, and emergency status in that area. They will be visually connected to their communities and will be much safer, especially in the wildland world. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of how to incorporate these technologies into everyday decision-making.

What advice do you have for young public safety professionals?

I have two sons in the public safety field and both in the fire service. My advice to them has been to pay attention to GEOINT technology and to become conversant. To become familiar with the language of it, what the capabilities are, and read up on remote sensing applications. Become the person in your department who knows how to manage the information side. It’s less about being able to control the drone itself and more about being able to interpret the imagery it’s generating.

Kate Dargan, former California State Fire Marshal and co-founder of Intterra

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A Homegrown Leader http://trajectorymagazine.com/a-homegrown-leader/ Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:32:31 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=34941 Web exclusive Q&A with Justin Poole, the new deputy director of NGA

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Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your roles and responsibilities as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) new deputy director.

My background is in geography and cartography. I graduated from the University of Maryland and started at the Defense Mapping Agency (a predecessor to NGA) as a young cartographer in ’91. I worked my way through the ranks in the geospatial analysis world, and became interested in improving the systems we work on day-to-day. I got into the requirements and development world from an operational perspective, and ended up becoming NGA’s chief architect so we could design and architect our systems to better support the mission.

I got a little hungry for getting back to hands-on missions, so I went back to analysis for a time. Then I went over to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to be the mission manager for counterterrorism for two years on joint duty assignment. I came back to NGA for a bit then left on other joint duty assignment to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to support the building of new satellite capabilities as associate deputy director of IMINT.

I was asked to come back to NGA to stand up and run the Xperience directorate. I did that for several years, working on GEOINT Services and the customer experience. I was then selected to be the director of source, responsible for content and safety of navigation. Then, in August of this year, I was selected as the seventh deputy director of NGA.

My responsibilities are simple: I run the agency. NGA Director Robert Cardillo sets the strategy, leads from above, sets goals and priorities, and it’s my responsibility to execute them and run the organization.

Q: How do you plan to build upon agency initiatives to develop innovative industry partnerships?

Throughout my career, no matter what I was working on, I have always realized the value in strong industry partnerships. The challenges and the goals Director Cardillo has laid out for us require us to take a harder look at the way we approach acquiring capabilities from our industry partners and academia.

One of the ways I’m going to help NGA build better relationships with our industry partners is to revamp our acquisition processes. I know that sounds like the same thing every new deputy director says, but I have watched us get to a point where we’re a little too focused on building systems around workflows, which leads to large, waterfall developments. We need to be focused on tools and applications that center around the data and are a lot more agile. I’m going to revamp the acquisition process around being able to take advantage of different contracting mechanisms, nontraditional industry partnerships, what’s available in the open, and to not necessarily require partners automatically have SCIFs and clearances. We will build and develop on the low side and move high as necessary.

I’m also in the process of redefining the role of the component acquisition executive within NGA. That work is underway.

Q: In addition to acquisition reform, Director Cardillo has many ambitious goals for the agency. What are your plans for executing his goals?

If you really dig into the Director’s vision and goals, while they have matured as the times and technology have evolved over his three-year tenure, they have remained steadfast: to deliver relevancy to our customers, to keep us left of launch, to embrace automation and new tradecraft, and to work together to improve our culture.

We have struggled internally to understand how to manage and communicate that change not only to our workforce but also to our industry partners and among our senior cadre. The first thing I’ve done is work to implement a new organizational structure and governance process that for the first time, in my opinion, has very clear lines of responsibility, accountability, and almost by definition requires transparency and communication among senior executives charged with running those governance processes. Far too often organizations sidestep governance when it gets too hard. We’re not going to let that happen this time because part of running the business is for me to make sure the governance process is used.

The Director has asked me to accelerate the delivery of capabilities to the desktop, and in order to do so effectively and efficiently we can’t be mired down in process.

Q: Under this new organizational structure, NGA has reorganized its directorates and changed the title of chief of staff to executive director. What do these changes represent?

I’ve found throughout my career that you don’t really reorganize, you tweak to correct areas that might need some attention.

There are two major changes under this reorganization. One, we had our chief of staff loaded down with not only the enormous responsibility of a chief of staff for an agency of this size, but also with oversight of several large key components or directorates—security and installation and human development. We wanted that position to focus on the integration and synchronization of activities across the organization.

So, Ed Mornston, formerly our chief of staff, is now executive director of the agency. We studied other examples of an executive director in the community and found it to be what we were looking for. In doing so, we took the large directorates that were previously aligned to the chief of staff and created an associate director for support and aligned those directorates under that person.

We also took our international affairs organization and moved it out from under the director for operations (now called the associate director for operations) to fall under the associate director for enterprise, which aligns with our National System for Geospatial Intelligence (NSG)/Allied System for Geospatial Intelligence (ASG) organization called the Geospatial Enterprise. This gives our external reach one place to be focused on—NSG, ASG, and all of our international partners.

One other slight change is we re-established the west executive. This is important. Previously, the most senior person in St. Louis was the deputy chief of staff and they did deputy chief of staff work but just happened to sit in St. Louis. We had used a west executive in previous administrations and decided to bring it back. That person will be the most senior person in St. Louis and will report to the Director and myself and be our representative in the west.

Q: How did your joint duty assignments at NCTC and NRO influence your perspective on GEOINT?

I have become a card-carrying fan of the joint duty program. I can’t say enough about how excellent of an experience it is for any officer at any level within the organization. Before I had done one I felt like I didn’t need it. I felt like I knew what I needed to know. But until you immerse yourself in another organization that is part of the same community, you don’t really see the differences and the benefits.

The benefits are enormous. You get to see not only a new mission, but also you get to see your mission back at the ranch from someone else’s perspective. And you gain an expanded network of colleagues that is invaluable in the Intelligence Community (IC) where you are required to have a strong network to get anything done. The alliances, friendships, and partnerships I’ve built in my two joint duty assignments are invaluable and I still reach out to many of those people today.

You also gain an appreciation for the subtly different challenges that other organizations feel, and also get a sense of relief when you see another organization maybe having the same challenges you’re having—you don’t feel like it’s just you.

Q: What are some of the obstacles the community faces that keep you up at night?

Not only from my perch at NGA as deputy director, but as a member of the IC, what keeps me up at night is fear of failure. I’m not talking about me personally; I’m talking about the community that I grew up in and love failing in a critical way. I always want my customer to go into a fair fight and it’s my job to make sure they have that advantage.

That fear is a healthy thing to have. If I slept well at night then I’m probably not doing my job properly. A good friend and colleague once used that line with me and it resonated and holds true.

Q: As a member of the GEOINT Community for more than 25 years, what do you envision for the future of the community and tradecraft?

I would say two things, and both are very doable and we are well on our way. The first is maintaining our edge. For the longest time, the community held a monopoly on sources and now we have a world rich with new, compelling, exciting sources—whether it’s commercial satellites, new types of data, or analytic services. We’ve got to maintain our edge and take the best advantage of that available source and information to allow us to stay relevant.

The second thing is so much of our ability to handle that revolves around technology. It’s great to have tons of data, but if you don’t have the technology to make sense of it, organize it, conduct automation against it, and to drive to answers rather than eyeballs on imagery, you’re not going to be effective. Traditionally, the IC and Department of Defense have done systems or technology acquisition in a specific and often laborious way. We don’t have time for that anymore. We need to mature those processes.

Q: What are you looking for from industry and academia?

To be frank, what I need from them right now is patience. And I say that as a person who knows that in the last six to eight months my community has been less than deliberate in our preparation for requirement that have gone out to industry. In other words, we’ve put out RFPs or RFIs and then pulled them back or we’ve extended contracts. I ask them for patience, but also to help me as I mature the acquisition process to understand what I can do to help make their lives easier. I will be spending a great deal of time with industry to discuss these matters with them. I know the GEOINT Community around industry loves the mission, is patriotic, and they put up with us and are great partners. We’re going to do better together.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?

I grew up in this agency. I did my time away, but this agency is my home and I feel honored and privileged to have been selected as the deputy director and I’m even more excited because I feel like I was a homegrown choice. I’m going to work doubly hard to ensure we are successful—and success is more than this agency. Success is achieved along with our industry, academic, and international partners. I feel good and I’m more excited than I’ve ever been about a job as I step into this position.

Photo Credit: NGA

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Innovating for the Homeland http://trajectorymagazine.com/innovating-for-the-homeland/ Wed, 16 Aug 2017 20:13:05 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=34468 Q&A with Andre Hentz, acting deputy under secretary for Science & Technology (S&T) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

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Andre Hentz is acting deputy under secretary for Science & Technology with the Department of Homeland Security.

Q: What led you to a career in S&T?

I had a profound interest in science and technology from a young age. I grew up in Asheville, N.C., in the mountains, and my brothers, cousins, and I watched a lot of science fiction—Star Trek, Battle Star Galactica, Buck Rogers. We liked things that challenged our imaginations. We would then take that to the playground and emulate what we had seen on TV. I think from my formative years that led me to always have a need to better understand science and technology.

I did a tenure at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where I worked in the advance technology office as a business financial manager. There, I met Dr. Reggie Brothers, who would later become the DHS under secretary for S&T. He hired me at DARPA to manage his portfolio and was a key enabler to quench my thirst in S&T. He took the time to teach me what his crazy projects were trying to achieve. We executed programs in LiDAR, radar, and ISR.

Currently, I serve as the alter ego to the current DHS under secretary for S&T William Bryan. I provide oversight for the S&T budget, which is managed through a staff of about 475 federal employees plus contractors. We support the directorate in protecting the homeland by providing state-of-the-art S&T solutions and resources to federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.

Q: How do S&T’s R&D efforts contribute to the DHS mission space?

Our research is multifaceted. We ensure DHS and the homeland security community have the resources needed to prevent manmade natural disasters and also to provide response and recovery from threats manmade and natural. We develop tools to protect the nation and infrastructure from chemical, biological, radiological, and cyber attacks.

We seek to leverage other technological advancements throughout the government and make them appropriate for domestic use. A lot of times DoD may have made investments that with minor tweaking can be tailored to what we do here at DHS.

S&T serves as a trusted partner for DHS operators and we maintain complex roles and responsibilities. We directly provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with fact-based information to aid in decision-making.

S&T is the executive agent to 13 bilateral partner-sharing agreements for the purpose of sharing technological solutions and understanding around the thrust of homeland security. The agreements allow us to better collaborate, share research, and essentially buy down each nation’s risk in these areas. Most recently, we’ve been working cyber research in the Netherlands and also with our British counterparts trying to figure out technologies to assess and understand UAVs.

Q: What is the importance of precision location information and ISR assets across DHS mission sets?

Location is critical to a first responder being fully protected, connected, and aware. We consider precision location a key research area. For example, the POINTER technology we have provides context-aware tracking capabilities for first responders.

As automated vehicles come online our cyber division is working with the Department of Transportation to have a safety and security layer embedded in the engineering process. We are trying to ascertain how to add a layer of geospatial location information in this domain to ensure a vehicle is on its correct path and that it is where it believes it is.

All of the data in the world, if not taken advantage of, is just all the data in the world.

Another example of how we’re looking to take advantage of geospatial data is Polar Scout—an endeavor in which the Coast Guard is partnering with S&T to see if we can enhance maritime awareness in the Polar North. Recently, the first cruise ships started sailing in the Northwest Passage. That’s going to bring into consideration other business opportunities through that northern passage and that will ultimately yield an increased workload for the Coast Guard. We’re doing an analysis of alternatives to determine whether an inexpensive satellite constellation for the purposes of search and rescue would be appropriate. This would give the Coast Guard better intelligence in terms of who’s up there. It might also offer common opportunities and provide persistent geospatial information to understand when to deploy valuable assets such as cutters and other equipment in that potentially dangerous area.

Q: Is S&T doing any research in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning?

Absolutely. Within the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) we have a data analytics engine and right now they are conducting research into the latest developments in machine learning. We are partnering with many organizations interested in machine learning and AI. In recent work with TSA we examined the performance of risk assessment algorithms for aviation security. This will result in technical information used by TSA in considering future operations. HSARPA also hosts regular workshops where a variety of big data techniques are discussed.

In the area of cargo transportation we have an initiative in which we’re trying to characterize and give organizations like the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) better assurance that cargo coming into the United States truly aligns with the manifest that’s sent ahead. One of our novel approaches seeks to better characterize the pollen discharges on shipping containers to see whether the native origin of the pollen matches what’s stated. Machine learning and AI will assist in accelerating these use cases.

Q: How are advanced data analytics and visualization changing S&T’s approach to its research?

All of the data in the world, if not taken advantage of, is just all the data in the world. We’re always trying to figure out novel ways to give an enhanced view of what the data means to decision-makers. The user interface associated with how data is displayed to a decision-maker is one part of the puzzle. We try to eliminate the proverbial ‘crap on a map.’

In our Flood Apex program, S&T aims to help the Texas region better understand what is happening in the Rio Grande area with respect to flood potential. We want to help decision-makers understand when flooding is imminent and interface with existing systems to give visual understanding of the exact area that might flood. This helps decision-makers make the call on whether to evacuate or to be confident there is an acceptable level of risk and tell residents to shelter in place. These kinds of initiatives are scalable to the entire first responder and homeland security enterprise.

Q: How is S&T helping address the challenge of management and analysis of video content acquired by UAVs?

We always work with our friends at CBP who use larger UAV platforms to collect video for border security operations to see if there are better compression technologies or algorithms that could help them.

What we’re speaking to is a much larger big data problem most government agencies are faced with—trying to understand what the real data repository looks like. We don’t have the resources to store everything all the time at maximum resolution. DHS wants to answer how much of this data needs to be on station versus in the cloud. Do we need specific hypervisors that can pull data on demand as needed for specific use cases?

We’re looking to see if it’s possible to use TSA data sets in partnership with CBP and Homeland Security Investigations. Everyone has their own data sets that when aggregated don’t always avail to a structure that is easily usable and discernable by an operator. We’re working with partners to address this and develop tailored solutions that are crosscutting for the entire department.
S&T is also doing interagency work with regard to UAVs. The velocity of UAVs and their potential in the homeland is in the near future. This administration has articulated the need to integrate UAVs into the national airspace. We are working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, DoD, and the Departments of Commerce and Justice to ensure as integration occurs the business case is fostered in such way to inspire and cultivate commerce while protecting the homeland.

Q: What advice do you have for young professionals interested in careers in homeland security and/or R&D?

If you’re seeking the geek or nerd cred, by all means, go forward and chase that passion. At DHS we are always looking for talented individuals, especially in areas of S&T as things come online like nontraditional financing, blockchain technology, synthetic biology, and the maker movement with 3D printing and other additive manufacturing. We need sharp, innovative, forward-thinkers who have a natural appetite for curiosity in these arenas. The dark web also presents asymmetrical challenges that we may not be thinking about. We make no assumption that we know everything.

We need to be futuristic in how we think about the workforce and we strive not to compete with industry, but to let them know DHS S&T is a viable option and we welcome them to the workforce with open arms.

Quick Facts

Career Inspiration: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Favorite Movies: Apocalypto and Troy
Currently Reading: The Never Paradox by T. Ellery Hodges

Featured image: A CPB Black Hawk helicopter conducts a familiarization flight near New York City prior to the Super Bowl.

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Playing Offense and Defense http://trajectorymagazine.com/playing-offense-defense/ Wed, 03 May 2017 14:06:46 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/?p=32796 Q&A with National Counterintelligence Executive Bill Evanina

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William “Bill” Evanina serves as the National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX) and director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Prior to being appointed by the DNI, Evanina held positions as chief of the CIA’s Counterespionage Group and as assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, where he led both the counterintelligence and counterterrorism divisions.

How would you describe your role as NCIX? What is your day-to-day like?

My role is triple-hatted. NCIX is a legislative position to lead and coordinate counterintelligence (CI) issues throughout the government and provide CI outreach to the private sector. As NCSC director I oversee CI for consulates and embassies around the world. Also, under the ODNI auspices, I am the National Manager for CI, developing policy strategy for top-level CI for the U.S.

My job is eclectic and different every single day. We facilitate operations and analytics throughout the Intelligence Community (IC) with respect to CI—not just against the big ones like Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, but also outside America and with our NATO and Five Eyes partners. Moving into the security realm, for example, today I’m going to the White House to deal with background investigation issues and reform efforts. In the past few months, with Russia [in the news], something new comes up all the time. We’re often defending against threats, but the good thing I get to see is the offensive excellence we have in the U.S. government—and that rarely gets reported.

What first drew you to work in CI?

Some of it was interest, and some of it was happenstance. In 2005 we had an insider threat at the FBI in New Jersey who we believed was spying and I got to head up that investigation. His name was Leandro Aragoncillo and he had previously worked at the White House. We investigated and charged him and he pleaded guilty to spying for the Philippines. After that I was sort of obsessed with spying and espionage. Coming from the terrorism side I wasn’t always aware of the insider threat. When I got promoted to the FBI in Washington, D.C., we were about a year away from taking down the Russian spy ring in 2010. It was just fascinating. It doesn’t get much luckier than to be a part of that—the investigation, the arrest, working with the CIA and the spy swap that occurred.

When I became chief of the CIA Counterespionage Group I had opportunities to brief DNI [James] Clapper and the directors of the CIA and FBI. When the NCIX job became available I had the opportunity and was appointed here. I’m a big believer in the slow bleeds that can be caused by nation state threats.

What role does geospatial intelligence play in NCSC’s mission?

GEOINT is probably the least appreciated INT in national security. It’s the fastest growing and most complex for multiple reasons. The globalization, privatization, and the capabilities being developed in the private sector have significant use and implications for the IC. But it’s a double-edged sword for the CI community. We look at GEOINT as an amazing tool that we’re able to exploit, ultimately to track the adversary and identify what they’re doing and how. But we also have to keep in mind our adversaries are doing the same thing. We are always in that pinball space, back and forth, of not only trying to find new, creative ways to utilize GEOINT, but also to ensure our offensive people are continuously educating our defensive people about its use.

With GEOINT, every month some new technology comes out and as it proliferates in the private sector the government has trouble keeping up with the capabilities out there. My goal as we move forward and use these tools every day is that we continue to understand they can also hurt us. And they do hurt us and our adversaries do use GEOINT against us. Looking at the horizon, what happens when you combine GEOINT with biometrics? What does that mean for our clandestine operators around the world and our ability to track our adversaries’ clandestine operators? GEOINT is a great case study for the IC to have offense and defense consistently aware not only of capabilities but of liabilities.

How does CI help prevent theft of technology and mitigate supply chain risks?

We’re in an aggressive campaign to educate the community about supply chain risks, starting with overhead platforms and the GEOINT Community. Our vector here in the next 10 to 20 years as we move to space is to provide uncompromised capabilities and analytics. Our adversaries are trying to compromise those things. If you look at it from a procurement/acquisition perspective on the supply chain side we need to add that layer of CI to ensure systems, rocketry, communications, and even widgets and micro-tech from the ground to the satellite aren’t compromised.

Say, for example, a general contractor has dozens of subcontractors. Every subcontractor is vulnerable to a foreign threat actor to penetrate the system and make it not work. It’s a big problem with multifaceted solutions. It all starts with awareness. Does the company know where it procures its material? Or who is doing IT security? Awareness is trying to get the C-suite companies all the way down to the startups to understand the significance of the supply chain.

As the IC, and in particular the GEOINT Community, begins to welcome more unclassified, open-source intelligence and consider the use of wireless devices, how does that change and heighten your mission?

It makes it very difficult. I’m a big proponent and understand the globalization and speed of technology. My office worked with the DNI to put out an interim policy on wireless devices in the IC, and it ruffled some feathers. It said not only are they a threat but we need to understand the risks. At home, people who work in the IC have the Internet of Things in everything—they come to work and expect a little bit of the same.

We have to work to improve efficiency in the workplace, but are unclassified and wireless really more efficient? I’m not totally against either. I don’t want to restrict progress but I want to continue to put a risk structure in place. But I can tell you if our adversary started to put wireless in their spaces we’d have to create multiple jobs because there would be so much work to do. To go wireless we must have the mitigations in place to maximize the protective capabilities we have to push back our foreign enemies who would try to compromise that. Again, it’s a catch 22.

How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing the CI mission and insider threat detection?

We use AI very effectively in the IC, and it’s even more effective in the private sector. But once again our adversaries are doing the same thing. As we proliferate progress we also have to be aware of the vulnerabilities. How do we get to a place were we can utilize AI in its purest form—add AI and machine learning with biometrics and you’re almost undefeatable in terms of what you could identify and analyze. AI is here to stay and it’s going to get bigger, faster, and more efficient.

In my world it is an enduring effort to educate those who use these capabilities but also those who could have it used against them. AI has great potential for showing us what we don’t know. One of the best insider threat programs we have uses AI.

What other thoughts would you like to share with the GEOINT Community?  

The race to use space as an intelligence gathering apparatus is on and in full swing with the U.S. and our adversaries (as well as friendly nations and frenemies) all in. And that race has to be won on our part, but it also has to be won in a careful manner because we don’t want to race to space and then have our stuff not work. Getting there uncompromised or minimally compromised is one thing we’re pushing in Congress. Let’s be patient and make sure we understand the threats.

In concert all things we do matter, from the private to the critical infrastructure and financial sectors. Take the theft of personally identifiable information—from Target and Sony to OPM and the last 6 months with the election. Ninety percent of that occurred from one thing—successful spearfishing, not sophisticated foreign government’s clandestine operations. No, just sending out emails with links and we’re clicking on them, then they’re having immediate access to our systems. The paradigm has to shift that as a country we’re all in this together. There has to be a holistic effort to protect America and that’s something we are trying to message. That this is a whole of government, whole of country effort.

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Beyond the Quantitative Approach http://trajectorymagazine.com/beyond-the-quantitative-approach/ http://trajectorymagazine.com/beyond-the-quantitative-approach/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:16:16 +0000 /?p=27890 Q&A with Dr. Peggy Agouris, professor of spatial informatics at George Mason University

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Dr. Peggy Agouris

Dr. Peggy Agouris is dean of the College of Science, director of the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research, and professor of spatial informatics at George Mason University. She is also a member of the USGIF Board of Directors.

Q: How did you become interested in the geospatial sciences?

My early background is in infrastructure engineering. I grew up in Greece and that’s where I did my undergraduate work. During my undergraduate studies I got into photogrammetry and applications related to imagery depicting structures, and when I came to the U.S. for my master’s degree and Ph.D. I started learning more about satellites and the evolution of digital imagery. The computational part of that was very interesting to me, and automation excited me the most.

Q: You’ve received more than $30 million in external research funding. What are you currently researching?

How to combine information from a variety of sources—databases, social media, traditional satellite and airborne sensors—and automate the extraction of information and the detection of change. It’s exciting to work in the lab with graduate students on incorporating the human component into traditional computational approaches, like for example, how to infuse predictive features into safety monitoring for military operations support, crisis management, and humanitarian response—among other applications.

Q: What research are you most proud of?

From an early stage, before the explosion of social media, my group recognized the importance of the human aspect in our work. We are engineers and scientists so we weren’t used to dealing with things beyond the computational and the quantitative. I consider it one of my most significant scientific contributions when I started integrating and expanding my work to include the human component, tracking movement and human behaviors in a way that can guide and enhance the underlying quantitative approach.

Q: What do you predict for the future of GEOINT education?

Geospatial science was always multidisciplinary and didn’t have a defined niche. It comprises people like me who came from different backgrounds, discovered it along the way, and became interested. One of the major trends I see—and which is already reflected in our college’s geospatial programs—is the universal recognition that location and geospatial aspects exist in everything. Another trend is that people who are educated in this field cannot be one thing anymore. They have to be good at understanding data constructs and quantitative methods as well as developments in social media analytics and much more. GEOINT is becoming more its own field yet still demands several layers of education in order to be effective.

Q: What advice do you have for students and young professionals?

Be open minded in terms of where you gain the knowledge you seek. Even though we are becoming more centered on the human aspect, you should sharpen and maintain your quantitative skills because the combination of the two differentiates geospatial science from other fields. And you can’t just extract and present information. You have to understand how reliable this information is and its origin. Given the recent spread of fake news, you have to be able to understand truth, accuracy, and precision. Finally, I recommend looking beyond the surface and deeper into the expertise and knowledge offered by the faculty who teach you. The experience you get from working with people actively involved in cutting-edge research, who have made significant contributions to the field, is more valuable than what can be taught through textbooks in the classroom or online.

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“Not on My Watch” http://trajectorymagazine.com/not-on-my-watch/ http://trajectorymagazine.com/not-on-my-watch/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 20:57:34 +0000 Q&A with Stephanie O’Sullivan, principal deputy director of national intelligence

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Stephanie O’Sullivan became Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) in February 2011. As PDDNI, she focuses on the operations of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and manages Intelligence Community (IC) coordination and information sharing.

Before this assignment, O’Sullivan served as the associate deputy director of the CIA since December 2009. Prior to becoming associate deputy director of the CIA, O’Sullivan for four years led the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T), which is responsible for developing and deploying innovative technology in support of intelligence collection and analysis.

Earlier in her career, O’Sullivan held various management positions with DS&T, where her responsibilities included systems acquisition and research and development in fields ranging from power sources to biotechnology. O’Sullivan joined CIA in 1995 after working for the Office of Naval Intelligence. She met with trajectory in March to discuss the foundational nature of GEOINT, the President’s Daily Brief, new technology, and much more.

How did you get your start in the IC?

Sort of serendipity, a little bit of luck. I had just graduated from engineering school and I answered an ad for an ocean engineer. It turned out that it was a large company. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were doing business for the Intelligence Community. The ad was really vaguely worded. It asked for an ocean engineer, I was an engineer. I lived on a boat at the time, so I figured I was qualified. I applied and found out it was really the IC, and I never looked back.

You lived on a boat?

I did. When my parents moved up here we’d always taken sailing vacations. They’d done their final move to live on a sailboat.

Based on your serendipitous path, what advice would you give to young intelligence professionals?

Stephanie O’Sullivan in December 2015 visited Columbia Heights Educational Campus, a multicultural, multilingual public middle and high school located in downtown Washington, D.C. Photo by ODNI Public Affairs

Well, you have to get up every day and like what you’re doing, so seek work that’s interesting, challenging, and motivates you. Look for people that you want to work with and you respect. I found both in my 35 years in the Intelligence Community.

Is there any particular advice you would give young women entering the IC?

Recognize that being different is a strength. In the IC in particular, we can’t afford to repeat patterns or fall into just doing the status quo and hitting repeat, so the people who bring different viewpoints or experiences are particularly valuable. It’s why diversity of viewpoints and avoiding groupthink are really important. I often find myself being in a room—big tables these days—and I ’m thinking, “I don’t think like everybody else here.” But that’s a strength.

What are your roles and responsibilities as PDDNI? How would you describe your day-to-day tasks?

My No. 1 job is delivering on DNI Clapper’s objectives, which is basically summed up in one word: integration. Integrating the Community, integrating our capabilities. The way he puts that into practice is largely by investing in the men and women of the IC. That’s his motivating drive, so that drives what I do. My day-to-day job is unpredictable. It could be everything from administrative trivia—our parking garage, for example, is one of the main features of working here. We’re always told on our climate surveys employees say they love working here, and when you peel into it, they love the parking. So it could be administrative trivia all the way to the incredibly profound. And you just don’t know when you walk in every morning what it’s going to be next. But if I’m lucky, my usual day starts with the President’s Daily Brief (PDB). It’s one of the privileges of my job and one of the most rewarding things I do every day because it is, in essence, the boiled down product of the entire Intelligence Community. You’re seeing everything that everyone throughout the Community is striving to put together. It’s the end results of what they do.

How does investing in the men and women of the IC help meet the goal of integration?

One of the primary signature initiatives we’ve had going since the stand-up of ODNI has been joint duty assignments. It’s about getting the full capabilities of the IC instead of a bunch of, to use the old word, stovepipes. DNI Clapper is trying to demonstrate that we are so much more together than we are as separate pieces. It’s a standard statement, but it ’s true. And I think it’s our secret advantage for the IC in the United States—the ability to know what we know and work together.

What are your thoughts on the future of GEOINT?

The golden age of GEOINT is in front of us, not behind us. I know it’s a well-established fact that GEOINT is foundational, is the starting point for much of what we do in the Community. Even when I worked at CIA, we’d be talking about some operation and the first thing you’d see come out is imagery. There’s a lot more that we could get out of GEOINT than we are today. There are new sources, new analytic techniques, new kinds of capabilities that we can put in orbit, and we can better leverage that which we already have. For instance, training our overhead architecture as an architecture instead of a bunch of single-point satellites.

Being that GEOINT is foundational, how does the discipline help facilitate integration?

GEOINT is probably the most common capability across military, the IC, and the U.S. government. You think of things like FEMA after a disaster. It’s almost the common denominator that all of us, despite all of our different missions, use and turn to more than any other capability. GEOINT is like the common lingua franca across the IC.

What would you consider three of the greatest challenges the IC currently faces?

Well, I was in the Community on 9/11, so not on my watch, I don’t want to see that happen again. The pervasive instability you see around the world. Dealing with the huge scope of change and turmoil in the Middle East. Changes that Russia’s driving and where Europe is going. And big data analytics, both as a threat and an opportunity.

How is Big Data analytics a threat as well as an opportunity?

It’s all about finding patterns in massive amounts of data. We have to worry about things like cover. For our operations, the same techniques could be used against our activities.

What about these challenges keeps you awake at night?

Stephanie O’Sullivan chats with Columbia Heights Educational Campus students and faculty during her December 2015 visit. Photo by ODNI Public Affairs

I spend too much time awake at night, I actually have this formula—about 80 percent of the time it’s worrying about something I might have missed. Whether it’s a factor I didn’t think of, or an opportunity I’ve overlooked. That’s why I value people who think differently. I know what I think. I want to hear from someone who comes from a different perspective that might help me not miss something key. The other 20 percent is worrying that I got something wrong. The business of intelligence is ambiguity, so you ’re always trying to discern insight from scattered pieces of data. You’re always worrying you missed a key piece or you assembled the pieces you had into the wrong picture.

USGIF sits at the intersection of government, academia, and industry. How can industry and academia help the IC take on some of those challenges?

It’s a little simple, but I think academia has new ideas, like strategic opportunities. New technology, new concepts. They also drive new policy thinking, think tanks. I think of academia as new idea possibilities. Industry I think of as new capabilities. Academia produces ideas; industry turns ideas into capabilities—things you can use—at capacity. And then government is about putting those things to use. Now, the government also has requirements to generate new ideas and capabilities, but we can’t do that on our own.

Of all the positions you’ve held, what has been your favorite and why?

Well it kind of changed over time, which is a good thing. It means I’m not regretting that the best job I had was 20 years ago. When I started out, I wanted to be an engineer because I wanted to build things. I had an uncle who built bridges over the Mississippi and I thought it was so cool. It connected two sides of the river and there was something real there. That’s why I was attracted to engineering. And I did that for the first decade or so. And then after a while, I found myself getting pulled into positions where I was building teams or putting together teams of people so they could build things. The last part of my career has been more about building organizations, or in the case of ODNI, community. So it seems like a continuum. You’re trying to do the same thing all the time, create something that will leave a lasting mark. That mark was really easy to see when you’re building things, but then I started realizing that when you hire someone and we bring a new officer into the organization, they could be here for 30 years. I’ve built a lot of cool stuff, but it might have a life of 15 or 20 years. The bigger impact you’re having—the longer term, lasting legacy—is probably in developing those officers. They’re the ones who will carry on and that’s a long-term decision. And then you think about organizations. ODNI is now at 10 years, and hopefully we’ve laid the foundation for something that will go on and help the Community be integrated, connected, and everything it can be for much longer.

What are some things you’ve championed?

The Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE), and that’s integration writ large across our IT enterprises. It’s enabling all the ways that we work together, that we can share information, that we can be more closely integrated. Next is the integration we’re trying to do around things like activity-based intelligence (ABI) and our satellite architecture. Allowing our satellites to tip and cue each other, that’s part of what ABI does. And that’s why I believe we’re at the cusp of the golden age of GEOINT, not looking back at it. Then there are things like our new Cyber Threat Integration Center where we’re trying to take all of the cyber intelligence we have and figure out how to share that most widely with our policymakers and customers across government.

What is a book you recommend to intelligence professionals?

The President’s Book of Secrets by David Priess. I have been waiting and downloaded it last night. I’ve made it to the second chapter. President George H. W. Bush wrote the foreword. The book is sort of a compendium on the presidents’ and senior policymakers’ experiences getting the PDB every day. Which I said in the beginning, to me, that’s the coolest part of the day, where you open that book and see some great collection or some NGA imagery. Or you hear about some assets reporting or an assessment an analyst did. That’s the Community in microcosm and this book is about the history of that. Presidents talk about how they used the PDB and what it meant to them.

So if you’re an intelligence professional that book could help you better realize the fruits of your labor?

Yes, and the sweep of history. That’s sort of the privilege we have being in this business. You’re at the front row watching history happen and helping to inform our policymakers. As intelligence professionals, part of our tradecraft is we don’t do policy. So when I brief the President, we try to give him the most straight-up set of facts and insight we can and then we leave the room and they talk policy. The policy part is their job and you can’t really get sucked into it because then you start cheering from one side. You want their policy to work, but you need to be separate from it. It’s great hearing the presidents’ voices from the past talk about what it meant to them and how they used information. I don’t really see that right now.

I leave and I don’t hear them debating how that piece of information I just told them will inform some choice they’re making. It’s fascinating to hear the presidents talking about how they used all this information.

That’s some powerful perspective.

It’s sobering. It’s a huge responsibility. Which is why I worry about getting it wrong. After I brief, for the next three weeks I’m picking up traffic every day and I’m going, “Thank God I got that right.” You’re watching how things play out and I had told the President,“this is what to look for, this is what might happen,” and then I’m going, “Thank goodness I was right.”

Where do you see the IC in about five years?

I hope I see them doing something new, something different that I never thought of. Because another truism of the intelligence business is that if you’re standing still or repeating patterns, you ’re becoming obsolete, you’re becoming irrelevant because the world doesn’t stand still. I really hope they won’t have forgotten all the reasons we got to where we are today, the lessons about integration, the lessons about working together, that mission focus, but you don’t have mission without people. I hope they don’t forget any of that, but I really hope they aren’t doing exactly what they are doing when I leave next January, or Director Clapper leaves next January. If they do, we will have failed. Because you really have to believe that you’ve brought along the team that’s going to inherit the organization, to be able to respond and adapt and think, not just hit repeat, to whatever new situations they’re going to get, because there are going to be new situations. Things that I never dreamt of when I started are facing us today, so they’ll have their own set of challenges. Anyway, I hope they surprise me.

What are some emerging trends that are going to lead the IC into the future?

Well that stability problem is going to drive change. You just don’t know where you might be looking at a crisis tomorrow. That’s going to be driving the business of intelligence, which is both about trying to be strategic and move forward, but also being at the mercy of the crisis of the day and trying to provide information on it.

The other thing is technology. One of my favorite things to do around here is to champion the researchers and the STEM people because I think they’re cool and they create things. But technology is changing, it’s a truism, it’s changing so fast that the world you will be living and working in 20 years from now, you couldn’t imagine today. That’s both threat and opportunity and the IC is going to have to adapt.

Are there any other topics you’d like to discuss?

Some of the things that I’ll miss most. I’ll miss reading the PDB. The ops guys are great. The analysts are wonderful. I’ll miss those tech and research guys. They can create a new future. You know the analyst takes all of those bits and pieces of information and gives you insight from it, the ops guy responds to the opportunity to recruit the greatest agent ever, but the tech guy or a researcher, you can tell them a problem and they can invent something that changes you. Like cellphones—think about when we didn’t have cellphones. Somebody invented that and it changed everything about how we work.

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Prepare for Profound Change http://trajectorymagazine.com/prepare-for-profound-change/ http://trajectorymagazine.com/prepare-for-profound-change/#respond Fri, 06 May 2016 20:55:44 +0000 Q&A with Catherine Johnston, DIA’s director of digital transformation and operationalizing IC ITE

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Cathy Johnston is the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) director of digital transformation and operationalizing IC ITE as well as co-chair of the IC ITE Mission User Group. Prior to this position, Johnston was appointed DIA director for analysis in October 2012, during which time she led DIA’s all-source analytic effort. From January 2011 to September 2012, Johnston served as National Intelligence Manager–East Asia with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), where she led the Intelligence Community’s efforts on East Asia. Prior to assuming her position at ODNI, Johnston was Asia mission manager in the Directorate for Science and Technology (DS&T) at the CIA.

Johnston met with trajectory in February to discuss intelligence integration, what lies ahead for the Intelligence Community, how the GEOINT discipline is leading the way with its embrace of open-source information, and much more.

How did you get your start in the IC?

I had the huge benefit in grad school of working for Ken Lieberthal and Mike Oksenberg, who were both National Security Council advisers. During the summer, as grad school was wrapping up, they made a number of calls and introduced me to a variety of intelligence communities. I had spent my time in grad school studying the Chinese military and this was back in the day when absolutely nobody cared about the Chinese military. It was a very different environment. When I started applying to IC jobs, because my focus was on the military, there was a lot of interest in DIA in my field. I applied and got into DIA first. I started in April 1990. My whole point was to do Chinese military analysis. I thought I was going to do Chinese leadership and I ended up doing ground order of battle. And while I was in baby analyst training class, Desert Shield happened. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. And I ended up doing Iraq chemical biological warfare, nuclear missiles, absolutely everything I knew nothing about, and so that started my intelligence career.

How does it feel to be back at DIA following your positions with CIA and ODNI?

It’s awesome. Part of having my time away was also time away from analysis. So it gave me experience in a variety of collection disciplines, into the business of doing intelligence and IC-wide intelligence integration. That really gives you a very different color when you come back and look at the analytic business and the operations and how we should be changing it.

What does your new role as Director of Digital Transformation and Operationalizing IC ITE mean to you? What are your main objectives for the future of DIA?

Let’s start with the digital transformation part. It is all about helping DIA adapt to the 21st century information environment and the 21st century environment writ large. There are a huge amount of changes that have happened in the last 15 years in the commercial world and industry. In the outside world, all of us are living in a very different way than we did 15 years ago when we sent information by fax machines. A lot of government, and particularly the IC, missed out on much of that revolution. Since we have not adapted to it to date, we are now faced with challenges that require us to rethink a number of our assumptions, operating models, business processes, and tradecraft. The most immediate thing impacting the IC right now in that sphere is the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE). While all of these things have a technical dimension they’re really not about the technology. It’s digital transformation, but digital with a really tiny D. It’s really about operating model adaptation and changing the way we do business and interact. The benefit of IC ITE is that it will remove legacy stovepipes by putting the IC into a single platform. That has profound implications for the IT world, but those implications frankly pale in comparison to how it will enable mission. It will tear down the barriers that prevent the kind of integration we all want to achieve. It will be an evolution to get there. It’s not like we’re going to turn on a switch and have a completely reinvented world.

The way we look at data is closely tied to IC ITE. We need to look at data and treat it as a national asset—at a minimum as an agency asset, as an IC asset. That’s a really major culture change. Yes, there are technical implications. But it has much more to do with the way we handle data sharing policies and the way we cooperate and collaborate with each other.

Open-source information is another aspect of digital transformation. The amount of data that is publicly available rivals our classified holdings. Commercial imagery is a really good beta case for this where you see how much information is available and how much you can do using commercial imagery. It causes you to rethink our culture, what we’ve valued in the past, our tradecraft, how we characterize different standards—all of that. Open source is going to change even more dramatically in the next five to 10 years.

Cathy Johnston meets with an Army analyst assigned to DIA, March 2015. Photo by DIA Public Affairs

We’re also looking at over-the-horizon, disruptive events. The Internet of Things, the move to mobility in the commercial sector. We do not have a particularly mobile framework and the fact that industry innovation is moving to mobile first will present a challenge to us and we will need to rethink some of our assumptions. We’re also identifying new trends in biotechnology and identity intelligence and detection. All of these things present great opportunities but also great challenges to us.

What’s your day-to-day like?

About 30 to 40 percent of my day is reading mostly unclassified papers from industry and some from academia on new, disruptive trends. So block chain technology, just a wide variety of things. Many of them have a technical underpinning, but all of them are about changing business models. Some of them are new industry concepts on how to have effective, agile, organized teams. Some of them have nothing to do with technology; they’re all about how to get things done. I also read Wired and Fast Company religiously.

I spend another major chunk of my time dealing with what I call “ants.” Things that seem very little but are massive irritants and prevent forward progress for some of our pilots. Things like data-sharing policies. In most cases, it’s not the policy, it’s an interpretation of how the policy is being implemented— so really breaking through the “no barrier” when you’re trying to do something new and innovative. If it hasn’t been done before, it’s easy to find a voice that will prevent you from making forward progress; but in almost all cases, those voices are doing a standard interpretation of the way we’ve always done things and there’s usually a reasonable workaround.

In this new environment, we’re looking for unprecedented agility in the way government responds, and this requires that all of our enabling capabilities likewise have unprecedented agility, including our acquisition systems. So I dig into what those options are, learn from a lot of the civil agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services that have been able to figure out agile acquisition, and try to make sure we can learn from their experiences and build a similar system. Things like that are not sexy, they are not a lot of fun, but they are totally necessary to build an environment that allows for the kind of innovation we need.

What’s your team like?

I have a broad team made up of all parts of the agency. We also have service representation and people who have experience with the combatant commands. The core of the team is heavily represented by mission, and we have some high-powered representation from the CIO—in large part because there’s a heavy technical play, but the technology is the easiest part. The implications for operations and technology collection tradecraft are pretty amazing when you look at some of the innovations happening in the commercial world. We have a number of analysts who are on the team, some of whom have experience in the cyber dimension, in future analysis on where the threats are going to be. We have acquisition specialists. We’ve said to them, “We at DIA are good at predicting what the world and the adversary is going to look like in the future. We need you to look at how DIA will need to operate in the future.”

What is the role and significance of geospatial intelligence to the DIA mission?

As an all-source agency, GEOINT is a component of every single problem we look at. As a warfighting agency, GEOINT has a special place in the DoD warfighting requirement set. Probably the tightest partnership that we had when I was director of analysis was with my counterparts at NGA—NGA and NSA—but especially my counterparts at NGA because so much of what we do is to meet the foundational intelligence requires that both NGA and DIA have. When you look at the digital transformation space, the poster child for the intelligence discipline that is changing the most dramatically, in my opinion, is imagery. The advent of commercial imagery, the advent of data analytics tied to those data layers, the rethinking of data, the way NGOs are rethinking data layers and combining them with geospatial analysis is just a prototype. It’s at the vanguard of where all the rest of us are going to be.

Would you say DIA is watching NGA for lessons learned?

My belief is within five to 10 years the majority of the information we’re going to be processing will be open source just because of the explosion in that sphere. NGA is seeing it first because of what is available and open in commercial imagery. We are starting to see it, but we’re all investing in trying to understand those big data analytic methodologies, trying to understand the implications for our tradecraft—things like how to assess reliability for some of these new data sources. They’re just too new. We don’t understand them well enough yet to be able to apply standard tradecraft to them. It is a huge field of exploration for all of us, and NGA and the GEOINT sphere is at the forefront of redefining that.

What are some of the greatest challenges facing the defense intelligence community? How can industry help take them on?

The lack of adequate experience across the disciplines leads to a lack of creativity and inventiveness in thinking about what our business process should be in five years. For example, today we have inventive analysts who can improve upon the business processes they know using the tools they know. But in the architecture of the future, where we have a common IC platform, each of us bringing our existing production processes to that common platform will sub-optimize an integrated response. Because we don’t have enough familiarity with each other’s work processes, because we are still very discipline- and agency-specific, it’s hard to develop what we know we need to achieve in five years. It is helpful that the IC has joint-duty assignments where we seed people throughout other agencies to start to learn those processes, but we haven’t been doing it for long enough.

Generally, if you started off at NGA, you are an imagery analyst and you have stayed an imagery analyst for most of your career. It is a rare analyst who will go from being an imagery analyst to a SIGINT analyst, for example. We don’t have many officers that can understand the production systems within the stovepipes such that they can imagine what a truly integrated system would look like. And that’s what we need to be building. Right now. We need to imagine what that world needs to look like, but because of the lack of exposure, there are few people who can imagine it. That’s what we need a lot more ideation on. We’ll get better as we get more exposure and start doing more real-time collaboration as opposed to working a project first in the GEOINT discipline then sending it to the SIGINT guys to iterate on. With real-time collaboration, I think imagineering will happen and that creativity will be there.

Cathy Johnston presents a Defense Counter-Proliferation (DCP) Outstanding Role Model award to a DCP employee for exemplary representation of the DCP code of professional conduct in July 2015. Photo by DIA Public Affairs

Stovepipes remain our most consistent challenge. Many people say our fiscal environment is, but I actually think that’s not so much a challenge as a benefit. It is a challenge in the near term, no question. But because we’re all feeling the pinch, it’s causing us to look to each other to collaborate.

What has been your favorite job? Why?

I have had so many great jobs. It’s hard to pick. So I’d go with the job that was the most different, the one that took me farthest from my comfort zone. The farthest out of my comfort zone was working at DS&T which took me from being an analyst where I had spent my entire career doing analysis on Asia mostly and all of a sudden getting exposed to every conceivable collection discipline and understanding what all of the other agencies could bring to bear and what their limitations were. The learning curve was immense. When I look back on the job that probably influenced me the most, it would be that one. And it also set me up in great stead to then go work at ODNI and then come back to DIA with a very different perspective of defense analysis.

What advice would you give to young intelligence professionals? Is there any particular advice you would give to young women entering the workforce?

I would advise young professionals to take risks, to take on new challenges, and to constantly be learning and growing. If they are in a position where they are not learning and growing, it’s time to look around. The wonderful thing about the IC is there are so many different kinds of jobs. There are so many opportunities. You should never be bored.

I have a multiple part answer for women. Women especially should take risks because women have a tendency not to take risks. I have a “4-A” strategy for women: ask, act, advocate, and apply. Women don’t ask for challenges, they wait to be identified, to be tapped on the shoulder. It’s called “head down, pencil up syndrome.” You need to ask to go, ask for the challenges, seek them out. Act. If you wait to be told something, you will miss your opportunity. Take the initiative and act. Make a decision, do something. Advocate for yourself. Again, women are not terribly good about advocating for themselves and have a tendency to undervalue what they have accomplished and what they are capable of. I have made a habit of calling both men and women when I have a senior position available and asked officers of all sorts to apply. In 100 percent of the cases, I called a woman and asked her to apply for a stretch assignment she said, “I would never have presumed to think that I was qualified for this job.” And I’d say, “Well, I wouldn’t have called you if I didn’t think you were qualified for the job and I don’t expect that anybody will be perfect at a position the day that they take it.” If there are 10 requirements, women have a tendency to want to see themselves as qualified in all 10 of those areas, and men will apply if they see themselves as qualified for one in 10—and these are all generalities. So women need to put themselves out there more and they need to understand they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for.

Describe where you see the Intelligence Community in five years. What trends emerging today will help make this future a reality?

Five years from now, I think we will be so much more integrated—that a number of the impediments that prevent us from having seamless collaboration across the agencies and the disciplines will have evaporated. The majority of our work processes will be informed by big data analytics that will allow us to process far more information than we can even imagine processing today when things are still mostly manually curated. We will be achieving what is today unimaginable effectiveness in terms of mission delivery. We will have a more customizable delivery mechanism for our knowledge. Our customers will be able to extract content the way they want it in a timeframe that is much faster than they are currently able to gain it. And probably most importantly, we will be operating with much more open-source information than we’ve ever operated with. Open-source data and insights from industry, academia, and the open world will become the bread and butter. So that entire relationship between the IC and industry and academia will start to change.

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Interview with NGA Director Robert Cardillo http://trajectorymagazine.com/interview-with-nga-director-robert-cardillo/ http://trajectorymagazine.com/interview-with-nga-director-robert-cardillo/#respond Tue, 02 Dec 2014 17:40:05 +0000 http://trajectorymagazine.com/interview-with-nga-director-robert-cardillo/ NGA Director Robert Cardillo shares his vision for the future

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How does it feel to return to your imagery roots?

I think my history has advantages and some potential drawbacks, and I’m still working my way through what goes into which category. I was born into this business—my first full-time position, first professional development experience, et cetera. It will certainly be interesting to have been the most junior employee in this business and to now see the organization as its director. And I’m passionate about this business, so I don’t need to be talked into it or wonder what the power of geospatial intelligence could be. I’ve been able to experience that inside and out.

On the challenges side, it’s not 1983 anymore. Even since 2006, when I left NGA to go to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), GEOINT is a different business. I have to be mindful that while I am proud of and lean heavily on that history, it also isn’t today. I encourage all of the professionals in our business to remember that the key to success is self-awareness—being confident and proud of their contributions to any conversation or partnership—and being equally comfortable knowing that their contributions are limited. I think if I can balance those two, I will have a better shot at taking advantage of the positives and not getting tripped up by the negatives.

Quick story: when I was the most junior employee, I was 21, and my eyes were filled with top-secret code and James Bond. I wanted to immediately go into the spy business. And they sent me to Arlington Hall Station, which isn’t here anymore. It was a World War II era, creaky old building. And they sent me into this room with one of those old metal desks you see on police dramas with cinder block walls. Then they gave me my first assignment, which was to get a whole bunch of dot matrix printer paper and they said, ‘You need to move that into the burn bags and it can’t be any larger than 1-inch strips.’ There’s a callus on my hand that I still have from three days of tearing dot matrix paper. So that was my inauspicious debut.

How do you plan to carry on intelligence integration in your role at NGA?

A benefit of moving to DIA in 2006 was my ability to see and work with NGA from DIA’s perspective. When you go to DIA and look back at NGA, it looks different. It was hugely valuable. Then, when I went to ODNI, I was sort of a partner, but more of a demander. I was: ‘I need X at this time frame or the world’s going to spin off its axis and crash into the moon or something.’ Everything was a crisis, and I needed it immediately. So I went from an internal leader to an external partner to a senior demander. Now that I’m back inside, my approach to instilling this sense of integration is to try to see everything we do through the lens of consequence. There’s a reason I use that word. Consequence is whatever a customer decides is mission success.

We create content at NGA. We place that content into context for a living. That’s what a map is. A map is a contextual, visual depiction of a geographic area. We do the same thing with imagery products. We don’t just tell them what happened over night. We tell the customer what happened over the past 10 years, and we project that history forward to tell them what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. It’s necessary for us to create that content. It’s necessary for us to create the context around that content. However, it is insufficient if we stop there. And we must integrate. We must—and another sequence in my C-construct is—convey that information. Content and context must be conveyed to get to consequence. We contextualize with multiple sources. All of that is integration, and it sets the conditions for customers to achieve their consequence.

Take whatever you’re doing, flip the lens, and look at it through the eyes of your customer. When you do that and you can see the potential consequence on that side, you’re good. If you do that and you can’t see consequence, maybe we’re doing legacy things that aren’t as consequential as they used to be. We should question those things. Especially in this budgetary environment, we’ve got to ask those hard questions. I’m going to use this construct of consequence to create this lens.

In what ways do you believe your experiences at ODNI will influence your leadership at NGA?

It’s another doubled-edged sword. I need to be careful and mindful. We have many people who are doing 7/24 work, supporting Central Command, in a clearly tactical dynamic. I don’t believe the director of NGA should be in that dynamic. I want to be aware of those activities, but I don’t want to be in the way of them. There might be a person or two in the organization a little worried or maybe a little excited—depending on their view—that I’m going to move into the NGA Operations Center (NOC) and sit in the ‘Captain Kirk’ chair and start spinning myself around saying, ‘Point the satellite. Take the picture.’ I was ‘Mr. Tactical’ in my last job, and I used to make those phone calls to the NOC, but not now.

I had the privilege the last four years to see and participate in the confluence of intelligence and policy. To be able to see how our customers use our output is invaluable. I would hope I can bring that sense of urgency, and I don’t mean in the sense of ‘you have to do this in five minutes.’ We’re involved in a mighty cause, and I need to be able to convey that to the senior leadership team and the workforce as much as I can—how important their work is. I know they hear that a lot. But, I had the opportunity to sit at the center and see what worked, what didn’t work, and how people reacted to certain types of products and services. I will try to pass on that sense of live theater. My theory is that every one of our team members wants to make a difference and provide consequential intelligence to the customer. But, they might not know how, or what question to ask, or how to make sure. If I can create that view and set the conditions to incentivize the workforce, we will perform at even higher levels. My bias is, if you’re excited about your job and connected to your customer, you’ll produce better content, better context, and better consequences.

Can you elaborate on some of the themes and initiatives you will drive as director?

When I was doing analysis of the Soviet Union, using a light table, clicking off tanks, and counting armored personnel carriers, we owned the medium. There was no competition. From where I sat, in a windowless office in the Navy Yard, we were in our own world. And that’s a nice world to live in, if you can afford it, and if your adversary is slow enough and monolithic enough to tolerate such a pace. Thank goodness the Soviet Union was slow enough and monolithic enough, and quite frankly, not smart enough. We were able to outlast them. Fast forward, suffice it to say, we do not own this space anymore. It is not a monopoly.

If you wanted to take an image from outer space in 1985, you didn’t have a whole lot of choices. You needed a top-secret clearance and a way to task the U.S. government Intelligence Community. We don’t live in that space anymore, and I believe if we don’t fully engage in and join that broader community—government, contractor, and academic—in this vibrant geospatial marketplace, it will be to our detriment. I’m not saying, ‘Hey, I walked into NGA and they had no idea that all of those things were going on.’ But, I’m going to challenge us to strengthen that engagement and those partnerships. I want to take advantage of the power of that vibrancy and energy that’s going on out there. And, I think we can benefit richly from that exchange, in an innovation and adaptive technology sense.

Many of our customers have very exquisite questions and operations. There’s a time and a place to be in this very narrowly compartmented area, and we have to protect that. And we have to get even better at that, too. So, I do think we have small niches where we need to exquisitely pursue a specific application because of the mission import, or the customer import, or both. But beyond that, I look forward to the competition. I think it is, and will be, constructive. The message I want to send to our workforce and to our partners is that we are open for partnership, and I’d like to constructively compete with you. If we’re both pursuing some function or capability and you’ve got the angle on it and are ready to deliver it, I’m ready to thank you. And I understand that thank you might have a check with it, but that’s what I mean about constructively compete. I think there’s so much for us to take advantage of. While it was nice back in the day to have that windowless office and nobody to compete with, it was not a model that could survive.

Building off that, what will be some of the core elements of your future strategy for the agency?

We have to be a better partner, and we have to find better partners. I hope industry doesn’t take that the wrong way, I don’t mean we have bad partners right now, but it’s a two-way street.

I’ve been remiss in not mentioning our allies, and actually I think NGA is the model in the consortiums that have been developed and all of the geospatial agreements that exist. Even though we all understand we’re the biggest dog and bring the most to the table, my view about those kind of partnerships is it doesn’t matter what size you are—if you’re a small country with limited resources or whatnot—to me what you bring to the table goes back to my comment about self-awareness. ‘You’re from country X, you speak language Y, you have history Z.’ All of that is a gift that creates a different lens through which you see the problem or opportunity. It’s not a math game. It’s not a sense of scale. It’s a sense of perspective.

I want to instill a sense of acceptable risk. I want the NGA workforce and our partners to know, if you innovate, if you experiment, if you take a couple steps outside the extant policy, and your purpose is to move to a more consequential exchange or engagement or output and it doesn’t go well, I’ll be your top cover. And that’s not carte blanche to throw away security and all rules and regulations. But we do not have a large, slow, and monolithic adversary. While we have those on our spectrum of adversaries, most of our customers’ interests are on agile, adaptive, learning adversaries. If that’s who we’re defending the nation against, we have to be more adaptive and agile. And the only way you’re going to do that is if you’re allowed to accept more risk. If you’re doing it for the right reason and you have the right mindset, and your intention is consequential output for your customers, I’ll accept well-meaning mistakes along that path.

I also want all of our personnel to prompt their customers with offers and ideas. This is a little bit of a twist on the risk piece because that can be risky. Those conversations don’t always go well. Take that competitive world and that interactive geospatial community, and combine that with the adversary, which is crossing boundaries like nobody’s business. Al Qaeda has no interest in Rand McNally. It doesn’t mean anything to them—they’re creating their own geography. With those two conditions, we have to become more proactive and prompt questions, offer solutions, and present products and services to our customers that they didn’t ask for. I’d like to be able to provide the confidence to the workforce that I’ll cover them in those engagements.

What do you think NGA needs most from industry right now?

It’s a partner question, and industry is our partner now. And thanks to USGIF, for one, for creating those conditions to further that partnership. I appreciate that we’re not alone. The market is crowded, and I’m excited about that crowd. As a culture, we tend to be reactive, at least my generation, and that could very well change. We must create an innovative consortium and benefit from the vast research and development that industry has, and have conversations about needs, desires, requirements, etc. I understand there are ways that you have to have those conversations to create a fair competition for fewer and fewer government dollars. But within that framework, I’m more than open to innovative solutions.

I strongly believe the Director of National Intelligence is quite serious about following through on his commitment and dedication to the IC ITE proposition and creating more conditions for integration. As I understand the IC ITE model on the technology side, you’re not going to see a whole lot of five, seven, or 10-year contracts. I can’t imagine how I could tell you what my requirements will be in five years, much less seven or 10.

So here’s a specific challenge to industry: I know, given our customers and our adversaries, that we must be agile. If we’re not agile, we’re not relevant. If we’re not relevant, we’re not needed. We need industry to help us with that agility. We don’t need to own all of the parts to the solution, but we do need to own and be responsible for the output. When we turn it over to a customer, we stand behind it. Whether it’s a navigation tool, a targeting solution, or a long-term geospatial study of the Arctic, we fully stand behind it. And we are very comfortable locking arms with industry and allied partners on the way there.

How will GEOINT credentialing better the community and advance tradecraft?

To me, this is a win-win. As I step into the position of NGA director, I will have functional management responsibilities for this profession inside the government, and I take those very seriously. And I know I need help to do that. I want and need USGIF’s dedicated assistance in crafting, refining, and developing these credentials. My concept of operations is, we work on them together, because USGIF as an organization has great access to credentialing expertise. So, I want to blend our expertise to create the set of credentials that helps my workforce both ground and grow their profession. I want those credentials to be available and apply to contracted services, and USGIF can help in doing that.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The competition I described a number of times, that’s not just a geospatial issue, it’s an IC issue. In my last job, I ran into lots of principals, at a lot of different venues, at a lot of different times. You’ve got to compete for their attention. That’s step one. You have to find a hook. Once you get their attention, your time is very limited. It’s a world full of information. They have choices, and those choices don’t have to be us. We need to understand that it is a different relationship, a different equation than it ever has been. I don’t want this to sound like, ‘If we don’t change, we’ll die,’ because I don’t actually believe that. But, I do believe the upside for our business is so high, that if we can improve our relationships, create more business, create more reciprocally productive partnerships, take advantage of, and build upon, the innovation going on in the unclassified, open and academic worlds, the more we will have to offer. And that offering can and should be interactive, responsive, and proactive to customers that I can only imagine are going to become busier and more distracted. We’re going to be competing with more and more sources of information going forward.

The business the IC is in is storytelling. I know it sounds a bit simplistic or like we’re Entertainment News. But let’s face it, if we don’t tell a compelling story—one that informs, alerts, warns, and educates customers to understand their problems in a way they didn’t before—we’re going to struggle. This is not, ‘Oh no, the end is near.’ It’s rather the opposite. It’s, ‘Oh yes, look at the heights we can move to.’

Return to feature story: Conveying Consequence

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