WASHINGTON - In keeping with the high-tech nature of intelligence collection today, officials snipped a ribbon in cyberspace to open U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance here Sept. 13.
Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steve Cambone, U.S. Strategic Command chief Marine Gen. James Cartwright, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, and former DIA director retired Navy Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby participated in the cyber-event and then went down the hall to cut an actual ribbon.
The center will help ""operationalize"" intelligence collection, Maples said in his remarks at the opening. In addition to being DIA director, Maples commands the Joint Functional Component Command. The center is ""a place to operate at the defense level with national capabilities, but more importantly to respond to the needs of combatant commanders,"" he said.
In the past, Strategic Command had responsibility for the mission. ""The JFCC picked up all of STRATCOM mission responsibilities beginning in October 2005,"" said deputy commander Air Force Maj. Gen. Mark Welsh. The center allows intelligence planners to align defense intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations from a global perspective, leveraging DIA's collection-management experience and capabilities.
The center allots surveillance and reconnaissance assets for such operations around the world. ""(The center) takes combatant commander responsibilities and then associates that with the ability of a combat support activity -- DIA on the intelligence side -- and creates an ability to understand what the needs and requirements are of the other combatant commanders, what their intelligence needs are and how we ought to be managing the resources,"" Maples said.
Integrating all those pieces allows DoD to quickly address the needs of commanders and decide how to most effectively apply resources.
Maples said DoD does not have sufficient resources to address all the ISR requirements of combatant commanders. The question that must be asked, he said, is: ""How do you bring all the resources into the fight?""
Each combatant commander establishes his priorities. ""We receive from them what their intelligence priorities are and what their collection priorities are,"" Maples said. The center generally will address the most pressing and significant intelligence needs.
But if there are competing needs, then the center will make a recommendation and push the request up the chain of command to the Strategic Command commander or the defense secretary for a decision. ""This is done with everybody's case laid out,"" Maples said.
Currently, ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have first priority.
The JFCC will be working with the Defense Joint Intelligence Operations Center. That center will be located with the JFCC, and each combatant command and joint task force will have a like center, Welsh said. Requests for intelligence will go into the JIOC, where they will be prioritized, he said. The JFCC would assign ISR assets based on that recommendation.
These changes are part of transforming the intelligence field. ""You can look at intelligence as a supporting discipline to the conduct of operations,"" Maples said. ""That's the traditional way of looking can look at it.
""Or you can look at the fact that conducting intelligence operations is a discipline in itself,"" he said. ""How do we fight our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance resources? It's not just a matter of flying around and seeing what we get or trolling for information. It's a matter of applying the resources in a way that we're going to learn the information and gain the knowledge that our combatant commanders are looking to gain. ""
Intelligence operations flow from commanders realizing they need specific kinds of information, Maples said. ""We can plan intelligence operations, deliberately doing things that will cause a response that we can then collect on by other means,"" he said. ""We ought to be conducting operations for the sole sake of gathering intelligence, not doing it as a collateral aspect of other operations. And we ought to be thinking of fighting our resources that way, so that we are deploying and employing resources in a way that will gain us the kind of strategic advantage that we need. ""
The setup will allow combatant commanders to identify emerging issues and then determine how best to address them from an intelligence standpoint, Maples said.
The system is not limited to DoD. The center will work with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency to apply national assets to DoD problems and vice versa.
The idea, Maples said, is to ""forget the bureaucratic process. How do I solve the problem? We need to break down the walls and not let things interfere with our ability to integrate the functions and processes so we can make things happen. ""
The general emphatically said the intelligence community doesn't ""have the time to spend on extensive processes. ""
""We have to deliver in near real-time,"" he said.
Maples said the center will expand in the future to include coalition partners and allies. ""We're not going to be successful unless we have partners and leverage the partners' capabilities,"" he said. ""How do we get those countries that are partners with us on operations the intelligence that they need to be successful?
""Likewise, how (do we) leverage their capabilities in order to enable us to accomplish more in the global war on terrorism?""
The center is a work in progress, he said. The command will continue to learn and adapt and break down walls between intelligence disciplines. ""It all comes down to getting the intelligence to the soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who needs it,"" he said. ""It's something we never forget. ""