In back to back presentations at the 2012 GEOINT Symposium in Orlando, Florida, two key military intelligence officers echoed the same theme: Are we keeping pace with the demands of war and terrorism in the 21st Century?
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach, Commander, Joint Forces Command for the United Kingdom, and Lt. General Mike Flynn, director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) questioned whether we have the right culture, training and education to respond more quickly to threats that emanate from diverse theaters.
Peach said, "We have to move the GEOINT thinking beyond intelligence … outside the exhibit hall. We need to align policy with our capabilities."
Flynn asked, "Amid profound transition, do we understand what's happening? We are winding down direct combat roles; rebalancing to Asia; [combating] aspiring regional peer competitors, cyber operations, the Arab Awakening; and economic uncertainty."
Flynn said that communication via social media has created a new set of "social actors - super empowered individuals and even criminal networks" that are empowered by the wealth and an array of national and transnational contacts. Flynn emphasized that " the cloud and the crowd provide a voice to the voiceless … The network is the new weapon system; bandwidth is the new class of supply; and data is our new ammunition."
Peach seemed frustrated with the ability communicate the problems effectively. "I'm surrounded by people who like to make simple things complicated. [We] must do critical thinking of our work, simplify our language and understand the language we use. Stop trying to abbreviate everything into three letters!"
Flynn focused many of his comments on training a younger workforce and take advantage of their ability to approach challenges differently. He emphasized that there is a need to train analysts to navigate and understand complex data and enhance integration and collaboration between the collectors and analysts of data. "We need to deliver intelligence at the decision-makers speed, " said Flynn.