On Oct. 1, 1996 the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA, was formed to bring together our nation’s most capable imagery and geospatial assets into a single agency. Influenced by lessons learned from Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, NIMA brought together the Defense Mapping Agency, Central Imagery Office, Defense Dissemination Program Office and National Photographic Interpretation Center, and also incorporated parts of the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office.
In the years following its formation, NIMA continued the work of its predecessors, influencing world events by creating animated renditions of imagery and geospatial data that allowed users to visualize inaccessible terrain and resolving international boundary disputes. NIMA also provided maps and visualizations that gave the Dayton Peace accord diplomats from the Balkans graphic views of the boundary locations they were debating. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 NIMA took on additional responsibilities – including contributing to homeland security, helping safeguard events in this country and overseas, and assisting the armed forces’ work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Nov. 24, 2003, President George W. Bush signed the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill, a provision of which changed NIMA’s name to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, reflecting both the new product NGA was developing – geospatial intelligence – as well as the growing unity of its parts.
Despite the name change, Oct.1, 1996 remains the date that is celebrated as the anniversary of NGA.