US: The US Air Force General C. Robert Kehler, Commander of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM), called for a single authority to help intelligence processing capacity. “To help, close the growing gap between the nation’s ability to collect intelligence data and the capacity to use it effectively, creation of a single focal point of authority over the processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED) of intelligence information is needed,” said Kehler during GEOINT 2011 Symposium.
The new PED authority—which Kehler said could but did not have to be located within STRATCOM—also needs to be combined with greater use of automation in managing intelligence information, he added. Kehler noted that the volume of data collected has grown by some 1500 percent in the past five years, while the nation’s PED capacity has increased by only 30 percent. “How we process, exploit and disseminate the massive amounts of data we generate and the resulting information is where the real challenge lies,” Kehler said.
“We need to think hard about how we sort through the growing volume of raw data we collect to find the critical information—not just the information we seek, but the information that indicates an unanticipated event or strategic event that could take us by surprise. How do we turn collection into focused knowledge, and eventually into action?” The dilemma is especially pressing at a time when the nation is grappling with difficult fiscal issues, Kehler stressed.
“Automated capabilities may be able to reduce the data to a manageable level for exploitation, but we need to remember that we will always require a human being to make sense of the data and convey its relevance,” he continued. “The gap between collection and PED capacity is a reflection of strength, not weakness. Instead of reducing collection, we need to grow our PED capacity. First, in the long term, we have to pursue innovative methods of automation that will generate unprecedented levels of effectiveness. In the short term, we should take steps to reduce the gap through globally integrated, locally focused integration, and by managing the PED the way we manage the collection platforms—in short, in a unified structure.”
In order to achieve a unified structure, however, there needs to be a unified authority, he argued. “A key question is who would have the authority to quickly direct a shift in PED capacity in the interests of the nation? What command or agency exists to manage PED, the way we manage platforms? That unifying authority does not exist, but it should and must. We should be able to synchronise under such an authority, and do so in the interests of all.”
“The PED needs a single focal point, which has the authority to allocate resources and drive the effort from a global perspective— not ignoring local needs, but massing all the capability to do what’s needed.
Our PED synchronisation must include both service and agency assets. In addition, where such assets exist, they should include PED capabilities in other parts of government,” Kehler stated.
Such a global PED synchronisation capability could be located in STRATCOM’s Joint Functional Component Command for ISR, he suggested, while acknowledging that there could be other solutions.
Source: KMI Media Group