Do You Think You Have Innovative New Technology For the Intelligence Community?

By‘s parent is Crucial Point LLC, a consultancy that operates in the federal IT ecosystem. We are especially focused on technologies of interest to the national security community. That is largely because of our background. All of us at Crucial Point, including me, have a background in national security matters. So as you can imagine we hear from companies who have interesting technology that can potentially make contributions to the missions of DoD and the Intelligence Community.

We love hearing from firms like this and have established processes to make it easy for any firm to submit technology for our review (submit here at CTOlabs if you have new tech for us to evaluate).

But what we most love is helping firms understand how they may (or may not) fit into the mission needs of the DoD and IC. One piece of advice we give to all is you need to do your homework. Too many companies assume they have something cool and expect that it is what DoD or the IC should focus on. There is a chance you may have something incredible, but there is also a chance that it is not at all what the mission requires. That is what you should seek to find out before trying to connect with government thought leaders.

The good news is that this is not a hard thing to do. With research you can find speeches by agency heads, testimony to congress and other on the record advice that tells you the type of things important to DoD and the IC.

I found one recent speech particularly informative. Michael G. Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has spelled out exactly what is on his mind and provided a framework of needs he considers strategic priorities. If you are a firm seeking to do business with the IC this is a very important speech to review and think about, before seeking discussions with any government officials on your product.

Text from that speech is available online at and is copied below:

DOD Aggressively Pursues Intel Innovation, Vickers Says

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2012 – The Defense Department is driving innovation across all defense intelligence functions, the Pentagon’s intelligence chief said yesterday.

Michael G. Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, discussed defense intelligence priorities and partnerships during remarks at the annual Geospatial Intelligence Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

When he took the job in early 2011, Vickers said, he set four priorities:

– Operationally dismantle and strategically defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates;

– Set conditions for a successful security transition in Afghanistan;

– Prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, principally, but not exclusively, in Iran and North Korea; and

– Defend the nation against cyber threats.

Vickers said he would now add a fifth: “Enabling the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and shaping the political transitions that are under way across the Arab world in ways supportive of U.S. interests.”

The “big five” strategic priorities spur a need for innovation in four areas, Vickers said:

– Counterterrorism and counterproliferation;

– Projecting power in anti-access and area-denial environments;

– Expanding global coverage and global reach; and

– Rapidly building cyber capabilities to outpace existing and emerging threats.

Defense intelligence capabilities are building in all of those areas, Vickers said, adding that the highly classified nature of initiatives permits discussing them only in general terms.

In countering terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said, the U.S. fleet of Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles – what he called “the signature weapon” — is enabling the most precise campaign in the history of warfare.

Over the next five years, the department will substantially improve the resolution of its geospatial intelligence sensors, and add new signals intelligence packages, Vickers said. The department also will improve its precision-strike and foliage-penetrating capabilities, he added.

In addition, Vickers said, defense intelligence officials will develop and field robust and resilient intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that can address anti-access and area-denial challenges.

Department doctrine lists key anti-access capabilities U.S. forces may face as ballistic and cruise missiles, long-range reconnaissance and surveillance systems, anti-satellite weapons, submarines, cyber and terrorist attacks, and special operations forces.

“This is a critically important area for us – it is the operational dimension of our strategic shift to Asia,” Vickers told the Florida audience.

The department has two major initiatives aimed at increasing global coverage, he said. First is an overhead architecture “that will provide us with a truly integrated system of systems for the first time, along with much greater persistence.”

Second, he added, is the Defense Clandestine Service, which defense officials said provides increased integration between the Defense Intelligence Agency and the broader intelligence community. Vickers said the service “enable[s] us to be more effective in the collection of national-level clandestine human intelligence across a range of targets of paramount interest to the Department of Defense.”

In the cyber realm, defense intelligence is building a force “to defend our nation when called upon, and to exploit the full potential of this important new warfare domain,” Vickers said.

In all areas of effort from counterterrorism to cyber, Vickers said, he emphasizes four key approaches: intelligence integration from the national to the tactical levels, partnership between DOD and the CIA, intelligence sharing with foreign partners, and fostering a closer partnership with Congress on intelligence matters.

Geospatial intelligence entered a new era with the Predator and Raptor unmanned aircraft, Vickers noted, with the transition from still imagery to full-motion video. That technological leap, integrated with other forms of intelligence, “has effected a revolution in counterterrorism operations,” he said.

Geospatial intelligence capabilities “will remain central to most, if not all, of our core national security challenges,” Vickers said.

“It provides responsive warning, situational awareness and insight to our policy makers and operators, and provides a unique source of analysis of enduring and emerging challenges,” he said.

The next big leap in geospatial intelligence capabilities, Vickers said, will include platforms and architectures with greater persistence, resilience and intelligence integration systems; more affordable optics; and more sensitive sensors.

Defense intelligence professionals face a challenge, he acknowledged, as “threats expand in scope and complexity while budgets remain flat or decline.” The principal task is ensuring that evolving capabilities align with top national security challenges, Vickers said.

“I believe that we are focused on the most important challenges confronting defense intelligence, and that we are aggressively pursuing innovative solutions to these challenges,” he said.

And speaking of Michael Vickers, if you haven’t heard, the man is an icon in this business. Here is his bio:

Michael G. (“Mike”) Vickers was nominated by President Barack Obama as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI) on September 29, 2010, and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on March 17, 2011. Secretary Vickers served as Acting USDI from January 28, 2011, to March 17, 2011, and as first and only Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity & Interdependent Capabilities (ASD SO/LIC&IC) from July 23, 2007 to March 17, 2011. His service has spanned the administrations of both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

As the USDI, Secretary Vickers is the principal intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Defense. He exercises authority, direction, and control on behalf of the Secretary of Defense over all intelligence organizations within the Department of Defense, including the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the intelligence components of the combatant commands and military services. Secretary Vickers is the Program Executive for the Military Intelligence Program. He is also dual-hatted as Director of Defense Intelligence in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and reports to the DNI in this capacity. He is the Department’s principal interface with the Central Intelligence Agency and other elements of the Intelligence Community, and represents the Department on intelligence and sensitive operations at Deputies and Principals Committee meetings of the National Security Council.

As ASD (SO/LIC&IC) from July 23, 2007, to March 17, 2011, Secretary Vickers had oversight of global operations, and served as the senior civilian adviser to the Secretary of Defense on counterterrorism, irregular warfare and special activities. He played a central role in shaping U.S. strategy for the war with al Qa’ida, and the war in Afghanistan. He had oversight of the core operational capabilities (strategic forces, conventional forces, and special operations forces) of the Department of Defense, as well as the functional combatant commands (United States Strategic Command, Special Operations Command, Joint Forces Command and Transportation Command). With the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had oversight of the force application (maneuver and fires) joint capability area.

From 1973 to 1986, Secretary Vickers served as an Army Special Forces Non-Commissioned Officer, Special Forces Officer, and CIA Operations Officer. He had operational and combat experience in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia. His operational experience spans covert action and espionage, unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and foreign internal defense. During the mid-1980s, Secretary Vickers was the principal strategist for the largest covert action program in the CIA’s history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. From 1996-2007, Secretary Vickers was Senior Vice President, Strategic Studies, at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Secretary Vickers holds a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from the University of Alabama, a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations/Strategic Studies from the Johns Hopkins University.

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