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NGA, USAF improve collaboration

By Kris Mackey, Office of Corporate Communications
Pathfinder Magazine
December 1, 2014

Recent changes to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center in Dayton, Ohio, reflect how the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s support team there is working to strengthen its partnership with the Air Force in a time of decreased budgets and increased threats.

Although the geospatial intelligence team has been instrumental in the advancement of full-spectrum GEOINT within the defense and intelligence community for some time, policy and organizational changes will further improve the capabilities there, said Ann Carbonell, Ph. D., NGA’s support team director at NASIC.

Among the changes is a new joint NASIC-NGA GEOINT effort that combines the production-management priorities and associated processes for each organization into a single entity, said Carbonell. NGA and NASIC GEOINT production and requirement officers will comprise the office staff and have the authority to reach out to analysts in both organizations. The changes demonstrate how the GEOINT team is addressing the growing and complicated space mission.

The goal of this enterprise change is to focus on providing the best GEOINT solution to a customer’s request for information, said Chris Schond, NGA’s senior GEOINT officer at NASIC. The collaboration should become so mature that the lines between the two organizations are invisible.

“It shouldn’t matter which part of the analysis is done by NGA staff and which part by NASIC,” said Schond.

NASIC is the Air Force’s single integrated production center and the primary producer in the Department of Defense of foreign air and space intelligence, said Air Force Col. Thomas Dobbs, commander of NASIC’s Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group. All-source analysts there closely monitor worldwide air, space and missile capabilities, accessing the capabilities, threats and probability of adverse impact to U.S. interests.

The geospatial analysts at NASIC are unique in their ability to recognize systems designs, how they may be employed, their range, detectability, speed and vulnerability, said Dobbs.

“The NGA and Air Force GEOINT analytic team has a combined average of 20 years of experience focused specifically on NASIC’s unique aerospace mission requirements, which emphasize identifying weapon or target signatures and their historical and predictive patterns,” said Carbonell.

“I wanted one GEOINT-based report that provides a holistic GEOINT perspective on the problem — whether collected from space, air, or ground, and whether Air Force or NGA produced,” said Dobbs. “This will lead us to improved collaboration, better quality products and assessments, and therefore, more effective solutions.”

“All members of the NASIC GEOINT team — whether NGA or NASIC, military, civilian or contractor, whether they are EO, SAR, spectral, thermal, or MASINT specialists — all talk before completing their assessments and will, more importantly, now have consistent insight and the ability to inform each other’s analysis. This synergy ensures a better and faster intelligence report,” said Carbonell.

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The NGA NASIC NST provides advocacy, oversight and guidance to the NASIC and the Air Force on matters related to GEOINT policy, program and initiatives. It serves as the GEOINT Functional Manager at Wright Patterson AFB providing GEOINT data, services and capabilities that directly support the creation of integrated and predictive intelligence for the air, space and cyber domains. NST personnel include image analysts, image scientists, geospatial analysts and computer aided design specialists. There are also representatives from other NGA specialties, including source management, technology and Innovation labs.