Army pushes for shared, multiple-intelligence capabilities

Projects such as LEMV work across traditional defense, intelligence disciplines

In an era of persistent conflict brought on by globalization, natural disasters and troublesome economics, the one common denominator is the people who are inevitably involved. The military must learn to capitalize on that as its future grows increasingly uncertain, a top Army official said.

“The one commonality here is the human factor,” said Lynn Schnurr, Army intelligence CIO for the deputy chief of staff for intelligence. “To face the persistent conflict…requires intelligence. It’s about bringing together people from industry, from government and from academia to work on these problems and come up with solutions.”

Schnurr, who spoke Oct. 5 at the Raytheon Trusted Computer Solutions Users Group Conference in Leesburg, Va., said the military services can no longer operate separately, particularly when it comes to the Defense Department’s dwindling resources and the need to share critical information. Today, the services must make use of one another’s advantages and work together to develop and quickly execute solutions, including the technologies and capabilities that support troops at war.

Information sharing and a joint approach are especially important for intelligence collection because of the way the practices lend themselves to providing multiple intelligence resources, whether human, signal, imagery or open-source, Schnurr said.

She highlighted one key example of that approach, the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), which is under development by Northrop Grumman. It is a massive, balloon-like, hybrid airship that will be used to collect and provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support for the Army.

“The main thing about LEMV is that it provides the ability to support a multi-[intelligence] environment, and the 2,500-pound payload enables a variety of sensors: full-motion video, signals intelligence, enterprise connectivity,” Schnurr said. “It’s also a very plug-and-play type of environment.”

She said the LEMV flies at 20,000 feet and provides persistent ISR for up to 21 days at a time and $13,000 a month in fuel costs, which makes it less expensive to operate than many traditional airborne ISR capabilities.

“It’s very flexible and affordable,” Schnurr said, adding that the LEMV is expected to deploy sometime in fiscal 2012.

The LEMV is just one example of how the Army is pushing forward with plans to collaborate across DOD, Schnurr said.

“No longer can we afford to provide an access vehicle for every single capability we need,” Schnurr said, offering her own organization as an example. “We’re following the Army’s lead and using enterprise capabilities [when] we can, including enterprise e-mail. If we can get access to data from the rest of the community, we’re going to do that.”

She added that her office has partnered with the National Security and National Geospatial-Intelligence agencies to share capabilities and infrastructure.

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