The Department of Defense’s intelligence leaders cite Russia, China and rogue nations as major threats requiring newer kinds of intelligence gathering, processing technologies, secure data transfer and multi-domain tactics.
With these challenges likely in mind, the new proposed defense budget allocates $23.3 billion in funding support for intelligence out of a $715 billion budget, a number derived in part from the large recognition that the emergence of space, cyber and electronic warfare domains, coupled with the rapid arrival of multi-domain networking, create even more of a need for successful intelligence operations.
The need for integrated, yet broadly scoped intelligence operations was emphasized in a recent Pentagon report explaining the rationale behind the intel budget proposal.
Geographic boundaries have been both expanded and, in some cases, removed as a barrier in war operations by technological advances in space and the rising technical sophistication of cyberattacks, penetrations and attempted intrusions.
“The expansion of the competitive space beyond traditional military domains and geographic boundaries increases and complicates demands for defense intelligence, collection, analysis and planning,” the DoD report states.
Senior DoD intelligence leaders cited in the report explain that the current technological landscape informing the behavior and capability of major adversary require a broader and much more expansive information sharing strategy.
“Challenges from strategic competitors such as Russia and China, rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, and violent extremists require that the defense intelligence enterprise invest in the ability to seamlessly share and fuse information, synchronize capabilities and expand partnerships with other government agencies, the private sector, academia and partner nations,” Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie said in a Pentagon report.
Support for multi-domain oriented intelligence activities makes sense given how each of the services views the identification, analysis and transmission of “intelligence” information as the essential driving factor determining success in modern warfare. Decreasing “sensor-to-shooter” time by virtue of expanded real-time, multi-domain networking, Artificial intelligence-empowered computing and secure transport layer networking technologies is the foundation of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System and the Army’s Project Convergence, two service programs informing the Pentagon’s overarching Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. JADC2, a multi-service effort aimed at connecting any sensor to virtually any shooter in real-time or even instantaneously, is entirely reliant upon the secure transmission of intelligence data.
Space and cyber domains figure prominently in this equation as well, as space-based sensors and communications technologies are indispensable to secure transmission of data, and cyber is of course growing in urgency given the sophistication of enemy attacks, playing a crucial time-saving role played by artificial-intelligence-capable data processing. Cyber hardening is part of this as well, given that data in transit must be properly safeguarded from jamming, hacking, electronic warfare attacks or other kinds of hostile intrusions.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.