Simplifying the Analyst

Q&A with General Dynamics Mission Systems director of geospatial intelligence Mike Manzo

2017 ISSUE 1

Q: General Dynamics Mission Systems is a relatively new business unit. How would you describe your role in the GEOINT Community?

General Dynamics Mission Systems is just more than a year old and is an aggregation of a number of acquisitions and the combination of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems and General Dynamics C4 Systems. When we talk to our customers, we bring to bear the strength of two large companies with deep-rooted histories in helping solve our customers’ problems. Our combination has been contributing to the national security of this nation both at the strategic and tactical levels for more than 30 years. Our role is truly in the global GEOINT Community and we’ve been involved since before the term “GEOINT” was coined. We’re constantly working with our users and customers to examine what technologies are emerging, the nature of threats and how they are changing, and how we can help the end user be successful to ultimately save lives.

Q: What are your core products and services?

We’ve broken up our offerings into three areas: motion GEOINT, enterprise workflow, and open platforms. Motion GEOINT is focused on MAAS—the Multi-INT Analysis & Archive System—which enables full-motion video exploitation for tactical and strategic users. MAAS gives real-time analysis and a window into an event. Enterprise workflow focuses on the EMTK—Enterprise Mission-Management Toolkit—which enables intelligence production mission management for U.S.-based customers and the Five Eyes coalition. The third focus area is open platforms, which contains our Analytic Modeling capability and develops platforms to leverage future investments by our customers.

Q: How is your company preparing for the future of GEOINT?

One solution we’re gaining traction with is our open platform. We want to move away from large system deployment and toward rapid acquisition of capabilities. We don’t want people to buy a capability they’ll have to replace in three years. Instead of the government waiting to get a platform, you aggregate that and begin to provide them with smaller capabilities. The time of deployment dramatically changes from years to months and sometimes weeks. That’s one of the major shifts we’re seeing in the intelligence and defense communities.

There’s also a large need for analysts to be able to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other and refine their hypotheses, which is what we call “Analytic Modeling.” This is beginning to come into its own with the inception of the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE). As the community adopts IC ITE, analysts are exposed to a wealth of data. There’s a need for a platform where the analyst can share and communicate with the data. We’re working with end users to better understand how access to more data will help them. The last thing you want to do is provide analysts with “analysis paralysis” when searching through mountains of data—we want to help them analyze the data and relax the cognitive burden required of them. We’re offering a platform in which third parties can try out their technologies and provide solutions in a “Darwinian space,” meaning solutions being used survive and those that do not are replaced with other capabilities. We also want to better understand and model with users where they see themselves in two to five years to determine what technologies need to be invented to see them into the future.

In January 2015, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems and C4 Systems were combined as General Dynamics Mission Systems. GD Mission Systems connects users and protects their communications and information across land, sea, air, space, and cyber domains.