On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackers representing al-Qaeda flew two American passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York City, while a third plane struck into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and a fourth crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, killing close to 3,000 people.
The shocking terrorist attacks posed a different set of challenges for the newly-formed National Imagery and Mapping Agency, later renamed the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The attacks signaled a devastating new kind of threat which came with a brand new set of intelligence questions. To answer these questions, the intelligence, defense and civil communities had to collaborate, not just within agencies, but across agency lines.
The 9/11 Commission Report emphasized the intelligence community’s responsibility to communicate and share information between federal agencies to ensure the success of the security and defense missions of the nation. For NIMA, the report was a catalyst for progress, spurring the integration of mapping and imagery, and emphasizing wider dissemination for national security.
NIMA responded to this challenge by expanding GEOINT tradecraft, increasing GEOINT analysis and ramping up support to military operations, including deploying our people forward with combat troops and military headquarters. NGA also leaned forward to embed more GEOINT specialists inside partner Intelligence Community, DOD and civil agency organizations.