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DoD needs more bandwidth and analysts to better share ISR info, says GAO

Are the Department of Defense and other agencies, which collect voluminous amounts of data from their many intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, able to make good use of and share this data?

ISR capabilities include manned and unmanned airborne, space-borne, maritime, and terrestrial systems.

The question of good use of the data was raised by recent testimony that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) submitted to the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services.

This past January, GAO also issued a report recommending that DoD “develop overarching guidance for sharing intelligence information and that the military services develop plans with timelines that prioritize and identify the types of ISR data they will share.”

According to GAO, while, since 2002, DoD has rapidly increased its ability to collect ISR data in Iraq and Afghanistan, “its capacity for processing, exploiting, and dissemination is limited.”

One problem, particularly in the war zones, is finding sufficient bandwidth to “send, receive, and download intelligence products that contain large amounts of data,” GAO found.

Another is “shortages of analytical staff with the required skill sets” to “exploit” the information.

In recent testimony before the Subcommittees on Air and Land Forces and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces of the House Committee on Armed Services, GAO concluded that DoD is in the early stages of “developing and implementing initiatives to enhance its processing, exploitation, and dissemination capabilities, such as increasing personnel.”

As far as sharing intelligence information among military services and intelligence agencies, GAO found that “progress is uneven among the military services.”

Specifically, the Air Force and the Navy each plan to have a fully functional version of a DoD program to share ISR information in place by the end of fiscal years 2010 and 2013, respectively, while the Navy’s system won’t be in place until 2016 and the Marine Corps has “not yet established a completion date for the full operational capability.”


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