Intelligence

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Legendary Spy Agency on Chopping Block

A string of failures, goofs and budget busters, combined with the increasing importance of intelligence gathered by air breathing assets such as Predator and Global Hawk drones, has led a prestigious commission of space experts to recommend that the NRO be merged with Space and Missile Systems Command to create something called the National Security Space Authority. The recommendation is made by something called the Allard Commission, which was created by Congress last year.


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Biting Memo Details Intel, DoD Satellite Feud

A multi-billion dollar program known as BASIC is the flashpoint in the battle for acquisition supremacy between the Defense Department and the intelligence community.

In a remarkably frank and biting Aug. 15 memo, the head of Pentagon acquisition, John Young, rejects plans by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to approve purchase of the Broad Area Satellite Imagery Collection program. It would include one satellite, with an option for a second satellite.


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Study: Strikes Would Only Delay Iranians

Israeli air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities would at best only delay Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability, according to a new paper by the Institute for Science and International Security, authored by former UN weapons inspector David Albright and others. Air strikes would do more harm than good as they could cause Iran to embark on a crash program.


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Counterterror Efforts Stumble in North Africa

Interagency squabbles and a lack of funding are hurting efforts to combat the growing threat of terrorism in the ungoverned spaces of northwest Africa and the Sahara.


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New and Secret Threats Drive DDG 1000 Decision

New threats, including some that are classified, drove the Navy’s remarkable decision to whack the DDG 1000 program down to two ships and to restart the DDG 51 line.

While no mention was made at last Thursday’s hearing about Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles, I understand this is the most likely threat. Observers of the Chinese military have been increasingly concerned that China might deploy such a capability.


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Time to drop “war on terrorism”

A new study by RAND found that most terrorist groups end either because they joined the political process or because local police and intelligence rolled them up. Police and intelligence agencies, not the military, should be the tip of the spear against Al Qaeda.


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Iran’s Natanz Tough Nut to Crack

The chances of Israel carrying out air strikes to knock out Iran’s nuclear program is a hot topic of debate in policy circles these days. Some analysts say an Israeli air strike on Iran has a fairly high chance of success.


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Rumor: Senior NRO Official Leaving

In what may be an indicator of declining morale at the National Reconnaissance Office, two very good sources say prominent NRO official Pete Rustan is leaving the agency soon. I hear at least one other senior NRO official has been forced into early retirement. Given the circumstances of the person’s departure I won’t identify the person without more information.


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Key Intel System’s Teething Troubles

A revolutionary ground system being built by the National Reconnaissance Office, designed to take data from any kind of intelligence satellite, whether one serving the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the NRO or the CIA, and feed the data to analysts, troops or senior leaders is experiencing exactly the sort of teething problems experts feared would afflict it.


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Classified Satellite Cleared By GAO

Rare and important good news on the acquisition front for the intelligence community. A whilstleblower came forward recently and claimed that key parts for the system meant to replace the cancelled Future Imagery Architecture electro-optical system had not been properly stored, raising serious questions about whether the classifed Lockheed Martin system known as ECS 3 could be cobbled together and still work.


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NGA: Intel Teams Key To GWOT Improvements

In an exclusive interview with DoDBuzz, the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency discusses how the changed role of intelligence teams operating in both Iraq and in Afghanistan is a key factor in the counterinsurgency effort, including helping find IED caches.


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Donley and Schwartz on AF Acquisition

There was much buried in the more than 80 pages of questions and answers submitted by Michael Donley and Gen. Norton Schwartz to the Senate Armed Services Committee for their nomination hearing. I poured through it and found a few interesting tells.

Next to nukes, acquisition looks like the biggest issue for these two men.


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Israelis Show Off Intel Plane

The Israeli company IAI has put one of the country’s most powerful military intelligence tools on display here at the Farnborough Air Show in what…


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Spy Radar Satellites Declassified

The National Reconnaiassance Office, maker and operator of America’s spy satellites, has declassified the existence of its super secret radar satellites, specifically those using Synthetic Aperture Radar, to ease information sharing with the military.


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DoD and DNI Battle Over Billions

Very quietly and out of sight of almost everyone but the actual players, the Director of National Intelligence’s office and the Pentagon’s head of acquisition are battling for the soul of the next-generation of reconnaissance satellites. A decision on this is likely this week, we understand.


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Shakeup at OSD Acquisition Complete

John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (in the picture), is trying to do something lasting about it by signing a memo by the end of the week creating a new director-level position –- one of only seven in the department reporting directly to him –- for space and intelligence capabilities.


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The House Panel With No TIARA

One of the least understood “reforms” by the House of Representatives’ Democratic leadership was its creation last year of a Select Intelligence Oversight Panel within the House Appropriations Committee.


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Top Congressional Money Man Dismisses Gates Heritage Speech

Gates’ May 13 message was heard loud and clear on the Hill. A few days later, the top defense appropriator — read money man — in the House of Representatives boldly stepped in front of the nation (also known as the floor of the House) and said Gates’ speech was “simply a rationalization of short-term budget decisions made in the waning months of this Administration.


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NRO Loses Decision Powers on Hush-Hush Program

For the second time since early March, the NRO has been stripped of Milestone Decision Authority on a program — the power to decide whether a program can progress from one stage of a program to the next stage. The program is so highly classified that we can’t discuss its name or what it does. The confirmation came from a former senior intelligence official.