From Stuff today “…Three activists who freely admitted breaking into a government spybase near Blenheim and slashing an inflatable plastic dome covering a satellite dish have walked free. Their defence – that they mounted the attack to prevent others’ suffering – has been successfully used by Iraq-war protesters overseas, but is thought to be a New Zealand first…” I’m off to knock over a bank this afternoon because I think they do harm too…
The New War #2 Fusing Information
Information and intelligence fusion is one of those terms trotted out by the intelligence fraternity around, I think it is safe to say having read the Flynn report, that never really goes any further than being just a soapboxed buzzword. In the preparations for the defence of (or attack upon, I suppose) the Fulda Gap, there was a reasonable expectation that information would be delivered and disseminated in accordance with established processes, in standard, if not altogether common, formats, and between like or similar i.e. military, organisations. Relationships in this world were generally based upon long-standing agreements and history e.g. NATO, SEATO, FPDA, etc.
The beginning of the end for this structured environment was probably the 1990 Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait which resulted in the first major coalition not based on an extant alliance since the Korean War. 32 nations, many of who had not only worked together before but some who had also been active sparring partners with some of the others, contributed to this coalition, bringing with them a range of languages, cultures, doctrine and military philosophies. The trend towards ‘shake’n’bake’ coalitions over extant formal alliances continued through the 90s, through Somalia, Bosnia, and East Timor to culminate (so far) in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the same time as the pool of likely military partners is expanding, so is the range of potential non-military partners. Some of these may actually have the lead for the campaign, further challenging the accepted structure of ‘how things are done’. These other partners are not solely the ‘other’ government agencies of the OGA acronym, which includes the further complexity and layers of local and regional government. They may also include non-government agencies like aid organisations, political groups, and commercial/corporate entities.
Standards of any sort on how these disparate groups interact are few and far between, is any exist at all. Issues of language and ideology pale in comparison with the mass of information that sits unaccessed simply because there is no common standard for sharing that particular type of data. In many cases, the common denominator is a hard copy print-out that can be rescanned and uploaded into other discrete systems…so much for the multi-directional, intuitive, real-time information nirvana of the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ touted by the Net-Centric Warfare groupies…
The challenge today is to be able to fuse information and data from a broad range of allied, military, government, commercial, digital, verbal, virtual and hard copy sources into a pulsing representation of the operating environment.
Many centres and agencies promote the message but as the furore over the Undies Bomber and the Khost suicide bomber attack showed, there is a still a massice chasm between reality and the aspiration:
Since September 11, 2001 and the resulting creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the relationship between federal law enforcement agencies, their state and local colleagues, and private sector security organizations has changed significantly. Perhaps nowhere is this change more evident than in the creation of state and regional Information Fusion Centers. Under the Fusion Center Guidelines developed in 2005 by DHS and DOJ, these entities are intended to be hubs for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information related to terrorism and other criminal activity. In the area of counterterrorism, they play the critical role of being the place where threat, vulnerability, and locally collected, tactical intelligence meet.
In order to “get the right information to the right people at the right time and ensure that they know what to do with it’ I think that we need to have a fundamental rethink of what the information is, who needs it and how we manage it. At the moment we are still trying to evolve the conventional Fulda Gap intel model to cope with an environment that is far more complex and fluid than anything the Fulda Gap model was ever envisaged to deal with.