2020 News

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NSA Employee Produces More than 1,000 Face Coverings to Combat COVID-19

December 29, 2020

COVID-19 has caused a feeling of helplessness for many across the globe. From friends and family putting their lives on hold to those working in the medical field risking their lives on the front lines, no one has been left unaffected.

One NSA employee refuses to believe she can’t bring about positive change, even when facing the limitations of quarantine. Susan “Sue” Boyd, retired from the Air Force, found herself at home like many of her fellow NSA co-workers, navigating the challenges of quarantine.

“I was worried about family and friends once we were in quarantine,” Ms. Boyd says. “I was worried about my senior neighbors and family, and my friends who work in hospitals, so I tried to find a way to help them [even though some of them are long distance].”

Understanding the requirement of citizens to wear face coverings in public venues when the mandate arose from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines early in the timeline of the pandemic, Ms. Boyd decided she would put her sewing skills to work by making masks that she could give out for free to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It was a great way to get a handle on the situation. I needed some way to make sure people I care about were taken care of,” she says.

To Ms. Boyd’s surprise, her face coverings became well sought-after, eventually being requested by more of her friends and family. She decided to dedicate herself to this effort and began crafting face coverings for front line medical personnel at local hospitals, at-risk seniors, veteran organizations and even military personnel serving overseas.

“I was just going to make them for family, friends, co-workers and neighbors, but it just kept going. Someone else would tell me they work at a hospital and needed some face coverings. Veterans overseas who were deployed needed some, so I kept making them,” Ms. Boyd says. “At the beginning, it took me a while to figure out how to make the face coverings. It was a long process. I can make them much faster now. However, I do make them in batches, doing one stage at a time before moving to the next. I went from making a small amount to about 70 in a week.”

Her process quickly progressed, and her face coverings evolved through three versions: an initial version that tied behind the head; a second version with elastic ear loops; and eventually, the final version featuring adjustable ear loops. After receiving design ideas suggesting different patterns, Ms. Boyd tried them out and refined her process even more, soliciting feedback from her friends on how to make wearing a mask more enjoyable.

“I did some basic black or tan for the military. Then I had different designs with animals or sports. Navy/Air Force fabric just to make it more interesting than a plain white mask,” she explains. “I figured we have to wear the face coverings; I might as well make it a bit more fun. So I tried out some fabric choices for a few friends. I made a bunch of Halloween face coverings for co-workers, their families, students, nurses' patients and children, just to make it fun.”

Ms. Boyd made a face covering using hockey fabric for her chief, Justin Del Rosario, who also founded the NSA hockey team.

“I’m happy that somebody would take their sewing machine skills to good use, especially during this unpredictable time of COVID-19.” Mr. Del Rosario says.

Ms. Boyd also shared her masks with co-workers outside of her branch.

“I know Sue from working with her. We're not in the same organization, but we have had a fantastic cross-collaboration effort due to mission overlap,” Marge Prestfeldt says. “Sue is tremendous and doesn't like the spotlight, but in her day-to-day work at the agency, she gives it her all, and she did the same with making the face coverings. My children and several people in my division now have face coverings thanks to her.”

Ms. Boyd’s efforts have even reached our partners overseas, showing the scope of her efforts and the appreciation those within the workforce and outside of the agency have had along the way – truly embodying the spirit of giving back.

DHS Modernizes Critical Identification Requirements after Congress Passes REAL ID Modernization Act

December 28, 2020

As a result of extensive state, industry and government collaboration, Congress has passed the bipartisan REAL ID Modernization Act. The Act modernizes REAL ID requirements originally set more than 15 years ago.

“This new law marks another important step toward meeting the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations to close dangerous vulnerabilities to terrorist travel and fraud,” says Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad F. Wolf. “With this authority, the Department can help states better streamline the identity document issuance process before the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.”

After DHS issues implementing regulations as necessary, states may:

  • Accept the identity and lawful status information from individuals using electronic transmission methods; and
  • Reuse existing photographs, under certain conditions, taken by states and used to issue applicants current driver’s license or identification card and stored as part of their official state record.

The Act also helps lay the groundwork for future REAL ID-compliant mobile/digital driver’s licenses to individuals holding a valid REAL ID compliant physical DL/ID. The Act also provides some immediate relief by allowing applicants to provide their social security number without having to bring in a separate document containing the social security number during the application process. Finally, to further publicize upcoming REAL ID requirements, aircraft operators and third-party reservation entities must begin notifying airline travelers of REAL ID enforcement starting 90 days before the enforcement deadline.

To date, all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have issued more than 114 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, representing 42 percent of all driver’s licenses and identification card holders.

Only 10 months remain until the October 1, 2021 REAL ID full enforcement deadline goes into effect at all federally regulated airports, federal facilities and nuclear power plants. The Department continues to urge Americans to obtain a REAL ID-compliant card or acceptable alternative, such as a U.S. passport or passport card prior to the October 1, 2021 enforcement deadline.

To avoid confusion regarding the REAL ID Act requirements and enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.

  • Check your state-issued driver’s license or identification card for the star. REAL ID-compliant cards have a star marking in the upper left- or right-hand corner. Most acceptable alternatives, such as state-issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs), which are available in five states and can be used for entering the U.S. at land and sea border crossings, do not have the star, but are acceptable for official REAL ID purposes. For more information on EDLs, please go to www.dhs.gov/enhanced-drivers-licenses-what-are-they.
  • Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. Check to see if you have the proper identification to fly at tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identificationTSA’s website has a list of acceptable forms of identification that individuals may use to verify their identity at the screening checkpoint. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow enough processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are approximately 10 weeks for routine service and two to three weeks for expedited service.
  • Check with the federal agency you plan to visit, in advance, to find out whether identification is required, and if so, what types of identity documents are acceptable. While most Federal agencies will continue to accept legacy and non-compliant marked driver’s licenses and identification cards until the enforcement deadline of October 1, 2021, some – like Department of Defense facilities and posts – may no longer accept them.
  • Read answers to REAL ID frequently asked questions at at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.

DHS continues working closely with all states and territories to implement REAL ID Act requirements.

NRO Launches Second Dedicated Mission with SpaceX

December 19, 2020

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) successfully launched its NROL-108 mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 9:00 a.m. EST on Dec. 19, 2020.

The mission carried a classified national security payload designed, built, and operated by the NRO in support of its overhead reconnaissance mission.

“We are excited to partner with SpaceX again,” says NRO’s Principal Deputy Director Dr. Troy Meink. NRO’s first dedicated launch with SpaceX was NROL-76 in May 2017. “The successful launch of NROL-108 by SpaceX just days after the launch of NROL-44 by United Launch Alliance, underscores NRO’s commitment to a robust launch schedule supported by a growing number of partners and locations,” Meink continued.

“Despite the challenges of 2020, NRO this year has successfully launched six missions from two countries. We are dedicated to delivering reconnaissance capabilities that keep this nation and our allies safe, while prioritizing the security and health of our launch teams.”

Data collected by NRO’s national security systems are used to provide intelligence to United States’ senior policy makers, the Intelligence Community, and Department of Defense, as well as U.S. allied partners. Additionally, information collected by NRO systems can be used to assist emergency and disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.

NGA Pilot Program Explores Commercial RF GEOINT

December 16, 2020

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency launched a new pilot program in September to examine the viability of using commercial radio frequency geospatial data and analytics to support the agency’s intelligence products.

The pilot program is a limited scope, experimental effort that looks at how commercial RF data can be delivered to analysts at NGA and military combatant commands to augment existing intelligence activities.

“We are pleased with the pilot’s progress so far and the initial results associated with the commercial RF data and analytics have been positive,” says NGA’s Scot Currie, director, Source operations group, which is responsible for overseeing GEOINT collection from current and emerging data sources. “This pilot is an example of NGA’s commitment to exploring how we can integrate new and emerging commercial data sources into our analytic platforms to better support our mission partners’ needs.”

The commercial RF collected as part of this effort is being examined to support a variety of GEOINT applications, such as using RF geolocations for mapping, tipping and cueing of other data sources, including electro-optical and radar imaging satellites. NGA is working closely with its partners at the combatant commands to explore how data from this pilot can improve maritime awareness and cooperation with regional allies through shareable unclassified data and analytics.

“One of our challenges is to look at how we can take non-traditional data and services that are not pixel-based – like RF geolocations – and explore how we can apply these sources to be more responsive to the needs of our defense and intelligence partners,” says NGA’s Dave Gauthier, director, Source commercial business and operations group. “Moving forward, we want commercial industry to develop automated imagery exploitation algorithms, bringing multiple sources together, including RF geolocations, so we have a stream of information and activity updates feeding our national security algorithms.”

NGA is leveraging a National Reconnaissance Office’s commercial integration study contract with HawkEye 360, to access commercial RF data. The data is then integrated via NGA’s Predictive GEOINT Prototype, which supports an agile development approach for exploring new commercial sources and analytics that can support NGA’s partners.

NRO Delivers Advanced Reconnaissance Capabilities with Fifth Launch of 2020

December 11, 2020

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) successfully launched its NROL-44 mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida, at 8:09 p.m. EST on Dec. 10, 2020.

NROL-44 was the agency’s fifth launch in 2020 and its 30th launch with United Launch Alliance (ULA). NROL-44 was previously indefinite on range at CCSFS after several launch delays.

“We are proud to launch NROL-44 alongside our partners at ULA, the 45th Space Wing, and the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Chad Davis, Director of the NRO’s Office of Space Launch. “This launch is a testament to the resilience and expertise of our launch teams, who have worked together to troubleshoot issues to make this launch possible.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required all of us to channel ingenuity and patience this year as we overcome new hurdles and find new ways of doing business,” Davis continued. “Our NRO team members and launch partners exemplified these qualities and delivered cutting-edge reconnaissance capabilities to support our defense and intelligence partners.”

The mission carried a classified national security payload designed, built and operated by the NRO in support of its overhead reconnaissance mission. Data collected by NRO’s national security systems are used to provide intelligence to United States’ senior policy makers, the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense, as well as U.S. allied partners. Data collected by NRO systems can also be used to assist emergency and disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.

The NRO’s next launch will be NROL-108, which is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center later this month.

ODNI, Toys for Tots Program Support Local Community

December 8, 2020

Every December for the past 15 years, multiple semi-trucks, filled to the brim with donations of new toys, leave the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Virginia, and make their way into the arms of children across Northern Virginia as a part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

This year, ODNI officers took their support for the Toys for Tots program one step further and volunteered in-person.

ODNI officers helped Marine Corps Reservists from four different site support units in the Northern Virginia by sorting toys at a local distribution center on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., Dec. 5.

“The outreach and the volunteers that want to help are amazing,” says United States Marine Corps Maj. Brad Pomy, National Toys for Tots Program Coordinator, Office of Marine Forces Reserve. “This program gives everyone the opportunity to elevate their local community during the holiday season.”

In 2019, the donations from the Central Intelligence Agency and ODNI were the largest organizational donations received by the Toys for Tots program that year, says Pomy.

NGA Reimagines Sign-Language Interpreting to Keep Its Workforce Safe During a Global Pandemic

December 2, 2020

The Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Employment Opportunity debuted its new Sign Language Interpreting Operations Centers, or SLIOCs, earlier this year.

The SLIOCs are centralized video remote interpreting hubs where NGA’s sign language interpreters can remotely provide virtual interpreting services for NGA’s Deaf and hard of hearing, or DHH, workforce who have returned to the buildings and the classified networks.

Based on industry best practice and built with the assistance of NGA’s facility and information technology teams, these centers are the first of their kind in the Intelligence Community. NGA’s sign language interpreters have maintained gap-free support to NGA’s DHH workforce since March, when many NGA employees began teleworking from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 telework environment, the interpreting team has been working from their homes to provide unclassified virtual services.

But as NGA reconstitutes and phases employees back into physical workspaces, the interpreters team had to get creative in order to continue to provide uninterrupted interpreting services from both a telework and an onsite posture while adhering to CDC protective measures and NGA safety guidance. Taking to heart NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp’s message of “reimagining” the way NGA does things while staying true to accomplishing the mission first and supporting people always, the SLIOCs were the team’s answer.

The SLIOCs allow the sign language interpreter team to provide a consolidated operations center of video-based interpretation support on-site at NGA’s campuses in Springfield, Virginia; St. Louis; and Arnold, Missouri. Each center consists of a secure room on the classified network, equipped with dedicated interpreter workstations – and particularly their DX-80, the system used for video interpretation – to connect securely from their desks to the systems of DHH employees.

This setup allows the sign language interpreters to maintain social distancing without the need to wear masks, as facial expressions serve a key role in interpretation, and allows DHH employees, interpreters and their NGA colleagues to participate in meetings and discussions safely and help provide equal footing to all employees as they return.

“NGA’s new Sign Language Interpreting Operations Centers are a collaborative project, led by interpreting services and the DHH community, that helps all NGA team members communicate with each other while maintaining appropriate safety precautions due to COVID-19,” says Martin Cox, deputy director of NGA's Office of Diversity, Inclusion and EEO. “It’s been rewarding to see the SLIOC have such a beneficial impact on keeping the NGA workforce connected during the pandemic.”

Jeff Barnette, a member of NGA’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Council, participated in a demonstration and tour of the SLIOC for Vice Adm. Sharp and NGA Deputy Director Stacey Dixon. He and an interpreter demonstrated the interaction that takes place during a remote interpreting session.

"Through my casual conversations with other DHH members across other IC agencies, they have been remarkably impressed by the accelerated success NGA has had providing accessibility services for our DHH teammates,” says Barnette. “I hope that our success exemplifies the continued need to collaborate for increased accessibility options for everyone across the IC.

“Major Bravo Zulus to both Director Sharp and Deputy Director Dixon for being our biggest advocates in supporting accessibility services in NGA," says Barnette.

NSA Honors American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage

November 27, 2020

During the month of November, the National Security Agency (NSA) is honoring the American Indian Alaska Native (AIAN) heritage during Native American Heritage Month. This month’s theme, “Resilient and Enduring: We Are Native People” is a message that especially rings true this year to the Native community and our nation.

In May of 1916, the nation’s first American Indian Day was declared by the governor of New York. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush was the first U.S. President to designate November as National American Indian Heritage Month and each year since 1994, U.S. presidents have honored the community’s heritage with similar proclamations.

Many Americans are unaware of the services American Indian and Alaska Native veterans have contributed throughout history. The contributions of the Native American Code Talkers are one instance widely recognized by NSA today. Native American Code Talkers were first used in combat late during the First World War. At this time, a small group of Choctaw Indians would communicate in their native language, substituting routine words for military terms.

During World War II, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army recruited and trained code talkers to improve the encryption and decryption of front-line communications. Messages were encoded and decoded in two ways: the first substituted each letter of an English word, with words from the native language; the second directly translated words from English to the native language.

While the Navajo language is widely associated with Native American code talkers, at least ten additional native languages were also incorporated.

This year, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened the National American Veterans Memorial to honor native Veterans and their families. This memorial, which was opened to the public on Veteran’s Day, sits on the museum’s memorial grounds. The museum specifies that the memorial incorporates water for sacred ceremonies, benches for gathering and reflection, and lances where visitors can tie cloths for prayers, remembrance, reflection and healing.

We continue to honor the resilient and enduring legacy of American Indians and Alaska Natives this year and for years to come.

NSA’s School House Celebrates 30 Years of Accreditation

November 18, 2020

The Council on Occupational Education (COE) recognized the National Security Agency’s National Cryptologic School (NCS) for completing 30 years of accredited status at the Council’s Virtual Annual Meeting on November 11, 2020. NCS was initially accredited with COE in 1990 and has undergone rigorous self-studies and subsequent site visits in order to maintain this recognition.

Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, COE accreditation demonstrates that NCS utilizes best practices in education while meeting the highest standards of academic quality, integrity and rigor. The award is granted after an evaluation which demonstrates that NCS meets not only the standards of quality of the Council, but also the needs of the unified workforce.

NCS Deputy Commandant and Provost Dr. Mark Asselin recognized the significance of the accreditation saying, “The Anniversary of Accreditation with COE is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the National Cryptologic School – and it is an especially fortuitous occasion given the 55th anniversary of the founding of the school. The rigor of the NCS’s curriculum and the caliber of its faculty consistently deliver quality education for our students, who are charged with the security of the United States.”

The Council on Occupational Education is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and offers quality assurance services to post-secondary career and technical education providers across the nation. The council’s evaluation team is a visiting team of professional educators from academia and the intelligence community.

NRO Launches National Security Payload from Cape Canaveral

November 13, 2020

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) successfully launched its NROL-101 mission aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida at 5:32 p.m. EST on November 13.

NROL-101 was the agency’s fourth launch in 2020. The mission carried a classified national security payload designed, built and operated by the NRO in support of its overhead reconnaissance mission.

“We’re excited to be back at CCAFS with another successful launch alongside our partners at ULA, the 45th Space Wing and the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center. The successful launch of NROL-101 is another example of the NRO’s commitment to constantly evolving our crucial national security systems to support our defense and intelligence partners,” says U.S. Space Force Colonel, Chad Davis, Director of the NRO’s Office of Space Launch. “2020 has been an especially challenging year for the launch and space community given the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m continually impressed by our partners and our NRO team members on their ability to find new and innovative ways to collaborate in this environment and ensure we are meeting our mission requirements while prioritizing the safety, security and health of our entire launch team,” says Davis.

Data collected by NRO’s national security systems is used to provide intelligence to senior policy makers, the Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense, as well as U.S. allied partners. Additionally, information collected by NRO systems can be used to assist emergency and disaster relief efforts in the U.S. and around the world.

Veterans Day and DIA

November 11, 2020

Originally known as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War I, Nov. 11, later became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

At the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military and its veterans are at the core of everything we do – from the analysts providing timely, valuable intelligence to the warfighter to the logisticians equipping DIA officers to serve in combat zones and more than 140 countries around the world.

More than what we do, the values instilled in military members beginning in entry-level training through every assignment of their career are similar to those held by, and embodied by, each DIA officer: excellence, teamwork, integrity, initiative and accountability.

DIA is composed of more than 16,500 men and women, including civilians and both active and reserve duty military. More than 40% of our civilian employees previously served in the military, and they continue to serve their nation in various roles at DIA.

We salute them and all the other veterans of our country this Veterans Day.

DIA Remembers the Legacy of the United States Marine Corps on its 245th Birthday

November 10, 2020

In honor of the 245th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency remembers the legacy of its first officers – World War II heroes Lt. Gen. Leo John Dulacki and Lt. Col. Edward Martin Guell.

Dulacki worked at DIA from Jan. 2, 1962 until May 1964. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1941, serving for nearly 32 years and attended Basic School for Marine Officers at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, earned a master's degree in International Affairs from George Washington University and studied at the Strategic Intelligence School. Dulacki arrived at DIA with extensive land and sea combat experience, intelligence training and attaché experience.

Upon graduation from Basic School for Marine Officers, he was transferred to the Marine Detachment USS HORNET where he served as an executive officer and conducted fleet exercises off the coast of Virginia. Dulacki was onboard the HORNET during Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In April of the following year, he witnessed the first offensive operation of the war against mainland Japan.

Throughout his career, Dulacki witnessed some of the heaviest naval combat of the war, including Tarawa; Wake Island; the Gilbert Islands; seizure of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, Marshall Islands; Truk raid and Saipan-Tinian-Rota-Guam raids.

Dulacki served as assistant naval attaché at the American Embassy in Helsinki, Finland where he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in January 1951.

A year and a half later, Dulacki was ordered to assist in the Korean War, where he assumed the role of commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, and 1st Marine Division. During this time, it was reported that, “Dulacki took advantage of a lull to inspect the defenses, only to be knocked down by the concussion from an enemy shell. He escaped with bruises and abrasions and continued his rounds.”

As peace talks began, Dulacki joined the Korean truce negotiations team and participated in the Panmunjom Truce talks. He then served as the assistant naval attaché to the Soviet Union. After this post, he joined DIA in January 1962 and served for two and a half years.

In 1965, Dulacki deployed to South Vietnam as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence at the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. In this role, he provided intelligence in Operation Starlite, Operation Piranha and Operation Harvest Moon.

Dulacki received several awards and recognitions throughout his career, including:

  • Attaché Hall of Fame of the Defense Attaché System of the Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal, awarded for actions during Vietnam War
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal, awarded for actions during peace time
  • Legion of Merit, awarded for actions during Cold War
  • Legion of Merit, awarded for actions during Vietnam War
  • Legion of Merit as commanding general, 5th Marine Division

Guell is the first Marine officer to serve at DIA when it was founded in October 1961. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and economics from the University of Maryland, attended Harvard University, then joined the United States Marine Corps in 1947, becoming a naval aviator.

He served in the USMC for several years, earned multiple wings and commission awards, and his final role was an executive officer stationed at the USMC Air Station in Yuma in 1970.

The Defense Intelligence Agency honors the hard work and accomplishments of the United States Marine Corps in protecting the nation and wishes them a happy 245th birthday.

NSA and U.S. Naval Academy Celebrate Designation of Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program in Closed Ceremony

November 10, 2020

The National Security Agency and the U.S. Naval Academy celebrated the designation of the Academy's cyber operations program as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) today. The ceremony took place at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Hopper Hall, the Naval Academy’s newest building, named for retired computer scientist Real Admiral Grace Hopper. Diane M. Janosek, Commandant of NSA’s National Cryptologic School, which houses the CAE-CO program, presented the award to the Academy in a closed ceremony.

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program is managed by the National Cryptologic School at NSA. CAE-designated institutions must complete a validated Program of Study which is a series of courses and experiences that a student can reasonably accomplish in the course of attaining a degree or completing a certificate.

For more information on the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations programs, please see the fact sheet here.

NGA Searches for Innovative Way to Geo-locate Video, Audio Recordings

October 20, 2020

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency launched an open-innovation competition to determine the recording locations of audio and video data, Oct. 20.

The Soundscapes Competition will award up to eight cash prize awards, including a $27,000 top prize and $5,000 each for the top two academic entries. Awardees will be decided based on innovative methods of identifying, analyzing and modeling sound and acoustic scene indicators to uniquely classify audio recordings as originating in one of eight cities.

“A sound digital enterprise is a part of maintaining our ability to deliver world-class geospatial intelligence and adds to our ability to provide accurate GEOINT to the nation and world through humanitarian aid and in support of national security,” says Michelle Brennan, NGA Research Image & Video Pod Lead.

Throughout the five-week open period, ending November 27, solvers will be able to submit and test their code solutions, view their quantitative score and participate in a leaderboard indicating solver rank based on the training data.

Solvers’ responses will include:

  • A white paper describing their technical approach.
  • For each test file, the developer must indicate the city which the video originated from.
  • For each file, solvers will provide the confidence level generated by their method for each of the eight cities.

Top-tier-scoring solvers will be invited to present a paper containing a description of their methodology at a workshop to be held in 2021.

For more information on Soundscapes visit the competition website competition website or contact the Soundscapes Prize Competition directly at Soundscapes@capconcorp.com.

Department of Defense and National Security Agency Announce New Cybersecurity Initiative Aiming to Close the Cybersecurity Talent Gap

October 15, 2020

Today, the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency and Department of Defense announced the kickoff of a new workforce development program that redefines the academic path to a successful career in cybersecurity.

Through a collaboration with NSA’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) Program Management Office and Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Industrial Policy, Small Business Program’s (OSBP) and Mentor Protégé Program (MPP) students graduate “job ready”, armed with the knowledge, skills and training necessary for a successful career in cybersecurity.

This workforce development program, called the Cybersecurity Education Diversity Initiative (CEDI), addresses the nation’s critical cybersecurity talent gap by removing obstacles typically associated with establishing a new cybersecurity programs; access to certified teachers, quality educational resources, mentoring, contextual learning experiences and geographically located internships with business across all industrial sectors.

Through this partnership, Minority Serving institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities wishing to establish a cybersecurity program are connected with NSA’s Centers of Academic Excellence-designated institutions in their region which provide advice on program development.

Students at participating schools can receive paid stipends through DoD-created internships with businesses in the student’s geographic area and hands-on experience through Maryland Innovation & Security Institute’s virtual cyber range. This combination of experiential learning and contextual training allows students to develop the critical skills necessary to address cybersecurity challenges in their geographic area. Students, through use of a “cyber range”-built to develop technical skills, can also provide technical assistance to participating institutions and small businesses in multiple industrial sectors.

“This partnership is a revolutionary approach to developing the cybersecurity workforce of the future,” says Diane M. Janosek, the commandant of NSA’s National Cryptologic School (NCS), which houses the NCAE-C program. “CEDI is the future model for developing well-qualified and trained cybersecurity professionals across all industrial sectors, in all fifty states. Thank you, DoD’s Office of Small Business Programs for creatively addressing the critical need for cybersecurity professionals in the Defense Industrial Base.”

Two academic leaders, Fordham University and Excelsior College are leading the CEDI while nine partner NCAE-C designated academic institutions will offer regionally oriented programs for MSIs. Additionally, 48 NCAE-C designated institutions have pledged to provide faculty advisors, educational resources, range time and other support resources to CEDI.

MSI’s lacking a cybersecurity education program are encouraged to contact the NCAE-C Program Management Office. NCAE-C designated institutions interested in partnering with CEDI to either develop regionally oriented programs for MSI’s or pledge resources to the CEDI are encouraged contact the NCAE-C Program Management office at CAE_CEDI@nsa.gov.

Click here to view the CEDI Fact Sheet. For addition questions: Contact Mediarelations@nsa.gov.

NSA Announces SkillTree, an Innovative Approach to Implementing Application Training

October 14, 2020

The National Security Agency (NSA) is excited to announce the release of SkillTree, an internally developed open-source solution for gamifying user training.

SkillTree provides a systematic and interactive way to promote user proficiency of an existing application. The service is based on industry best practices using gamification to provide awareness of tool features, promote best practices, and document user progression and expertise. By reducing an application’s training curve, SkillTree reduces traditional comprehensive training costs while providing a more enjoyable experience for the user.

The SkillTree platform provides and combines three major components to enable a more engaging user experience.

  1. Dashboard and services — simplified management through centralized web-based user interface and data API service
  2. Display libraries — pluggable user skill and ranking visualization and customization across tools
  3. Skill event reporting libraries — easy integration into an application by reporting skill events to the centralized service

NSA initially developed the SkillTree platform to improve how users across the agency interacted with in-house complex applications, and the agency is excited for the opportunity to share its success with partners in the open-source community. Residing under NSA’s newly formed Developer Experience (DevX) program, SkillTree is one of several initiatives underway to streamline and modernize software development and DevOps best practices at the agency.

“The DevX team genuinely cares about igniting positive change for NSA developers and consistently embraces innovative and secure ways to do so. Software Development is an art; the DevX EcoSystem team understands that your canvas and paint brushes are important." - Terrence Pugh, DevX EcoSystem Lead.

To share more about DevX and NSA’s efforts in the open-source arena, DevX founder, Jacob DePriest, will be presenting at the upcoming 2020 All Things Open Conference on October 19th-20th. Jacob is one of several employees scheduled to represent NSA at the ATO Conference to formally launch SkillTree, discuss NSA’s unclassified development and telework initiatives, and interact with attendees at NSA’s virtual conference booth.

Interested in checking it out? SkillTree is currently available as open-source software (OSS) at https://code.nsa.gov/! Browsers that currently support SkillTree are Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari, and Opera, and the product is released under an Apache 2 License. OSS contains code that is publicly shared, and any developer can use and/or contribute to the code base.

Si Se Puede (Yes You Can)

October 8, 2020

During National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM), I chatted with Ledia Rivera, the Principal Deputy of the Communications System Directorate (COMM) and senior champion for the NRO Hispanic Advisory Network (NHAN) and Jessenia Merced-Gonzalez, COMM’s Chief of Staff and Chair of the NHAN.

Karen: Ledia and Jessenia, first, thank you both for taking time from your busy schedules to talk to me.

Ledia: My pleasure, thank you.

Jessenia: You are most welcome.

Karen: We are having this conversation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, what does this month mean to you both?

Jessenia: For me it is a time to reflect on my history and heritage. I think of the pioneers that lead the path for us, the challenges that we face, and how we can make a better future.

Ledia: I agree. Growing up I admired the contributions of Hispanics such as Cezar Chavez and Roberto Clemente. English is my second language and my mom did not speak English, so I contribute the improvement of my English to watching Rita Moreno on Sesame Street. During this month I encourage everyone to learn more about our struggles, our history and our contributions to this great nation.

Karen: This year’s theme is “be proud of the past and embrace the future” how has each of you done this in your lives and careers at NRO?

Ledia: I am very proud of my Puerto Rican heritage. My achievements are based on my strong cultural foundation. Family is always first - honoring family traditions and special moments, encouraging each other, and listening to Latin music after a busy day to lift my spirits. My colleagues are like my extended family. When I look around me, I am very encouraged by the talent that we have working at NRO such as Jessenia. I often tell these young officers you are the future leaders and life’s challenges make you stronger.

Jessenia: Thank you Ledia. I am also proud of being born and raised in Puerto Rico. It was blessing and honor to experience growing up on a small island with limited resources, but yet so rich in culture and family oriented. Our culture has many traditions and cooking is one of them. I remember my mom made wonderful dishes like arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican rice with pigeon’s peas), pernil (slow roasted pork) and pasteles (taro root and plantain pork pockets). Sometimes we would go to my abuelita’s (grandmother) house to drink Puerto Rican coffee in the afternoon even on a hot summer afternoon.

Besides cultural traditions, my Hispanic heritage provides me with the foundation of hard work. I work hard every day to ensure that I contribute my best to the NRO mission. I embrace the future with great hopes that our current efforts will continue to improve our Hispanic legacy. To that end, I am mentoring and leading my Hispanic workforce so that they, too, are ready for the future.

Ledia: Jessenia, that is so very true. My family also instilled the principals of hard work, personal dedication, and the spirit to never give up. They would often say “Si se puede,” meaning “Yes you can,” which I adopted in my life and use to encourage others.

Karen: Ledia, What is a senior champion for the NHAN?

Ledia: In this role I open doors to more junior officers, hear their concerns, and provide guidance. It is a great way to see the new generation in action. Our employees get an opportunity to network and develop new skills. Being a senior champion is also my way to pay it forward to the next generation just as I benefited in my career from others investing their time encouraging and guiding me.

Jessenia: Being Chair of the NHAN enriched my time at NRO in numerous ways. The NHAN provides activities such as leadership training, mentoring sessions, or just simply “get together” to learn about our different cultures. In previous years, during NHHM we brought Hispanic singers, and dancers to promote our culture. We also offered a diverse Hispanic Menu in the cafeteria. Activities like these help strengthen our NRO workforce and promote diversity.

Karen: Jessenia, you are part of the new CADRE workforce at NRO, why did you choose to work at NRO?

Jessenia: I have supported the NRO since 2008 as a contractor and loved the NRO mission. After a few years, I decided that I wanted to be in the decision-making chain, so in 2015 I became NRO CADRE.

Karen: Ledia, as a senior leader at the NRO, what is your advice for those thinking of applying here?

Ledia: As a young girl from a small town in Puerto Rico raised in Bronx, NY, I could never imagine the wonderful career I have had here. Each day I get the honor of working side by side with outstanding men and women from all walks of life. The work environment is great and the mission is critical to the safety of our nation. This is my invitation to come and join us.

Karen: Ledia and Jessenia, it has been a pleasure speaking with both of you and thank you for your service to the nation.

NGA, Harris-Stowe State University Sign Agreement to Develop STEM Educators

September 22, 2020

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Vice Adm., Robert Sharp, and Harris-Stowe State University President, Dr. Corey S. Bradford Sr., signed an agreement Sept. 21 that allows NGA professionals and HSSU faculty, staff and students to work together to develop the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math educators.

The agreement, which was signed in a ceremony at HSSU, lays the foundation for NGA and HSSU to collaborate on course offerings at Harris-Stowe for STEM educators.

This is the beginning of a joint effort to create innovative STEM teaching techniques for use nationally that can be measured and refined for effectiveness, says NGA’s Dr. J.N. Markiel, senior GEOINT authority for geomatics.

A partnership with NGA offers HSSU the opportunity to collaborate on innovative education initiatives with the professionals who are experts in their STEM fields.

“This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our students and faculty,” HSSU President Dr. Bradford says. “Harris-Stowe’s strengths are STEM education and degree attainment in these fields. HSSU and NGA have many shared goals that will be furthered through the exchange of ideas, personnel and resources made possible through this agreement. Furthermore, HSSU is a vital resource in meeting the region’s ongoing workforce needs. This partnership will offer enhanced educational experiences to the HSSU students through research and other hands-on learning opportunities.”

In support of the goal of developing future STEM educators and sparking interest in STEM topics among K-16 students, the partnership also:

  • Provides HSSU students and faculty with access to NGA’s personnel, facilities and technology so they can learn about and collaborate in the disciplines associated with NGA’s mission.
  • Allows NGA scientists and professionals to leverage the educational knowledge and capabilities of HSSU students and faculty to execute their mission.
  • Encourages early interest in STEM topics by people at NGA and HSSU at all stages of their academic careers.
  • Provides the potential for more opportunities for HSSU and NGA to work together in areas of mutual opportunity, including on topics of critical thinking and analysis.

“This is just the start of the partnership,” says Dr. Markiel. “The agreement can be amended going forward, so additional goals may be added as appropriate as we continue our collaborative efforts.”

Retired Four-Star Challenges Workforce to not “Walk Past” Inclusive Diversity Issues

September 17, 2020

The Defense Intelligence Agency and DIA Director Lt. Gen., Robert Ashley Jr., virtually hosted retired Gen. Vincent K. Brooks as part of the Agency’s MasterMinds series, Aug. 28.

Brooks served as an Army officer commanding large, complex military organizations for more than 42 years before retiring from active duty in 2019. He addressed the agency on the importance of inclusive diversity and representation in the workplace.

In his welcome, Ashley noted the parallel between Brooks’ remarks and that exactly 57 years ago, civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic, “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

“There is a national dialogue on diversity and inclusion … and we want to make sure we continue that dialogue with the DIA workforce,” says Ashley. “Today, as we have this discussion with Gen. Brooks, it’s fitting that on the [National] Mall, there is a march to draw attention to racial discrimination.”


Picking up where Ashley left off, Brooks says it would be appropriate to start with the current national situation.

“Depending on what your background and experience is, you’re going to see [the current national situation] differently,” he argued. “And if you only insist on seeing what you see, you’re going to miss part of the story.”

Brooks then explains the propensity for people to disavow alternative perspectives from their own.

“My point is not to highlight the ills of today, but to recognize that the ultimate ill is the peril of trying to be right,” he added. “If there is a hindrance to diversity and inclusion, it is the sense of having to be right.”

According to Brooks, the challenge society faces today is to think differently about what individuals feel and were taught. Rather than forgetting their ideals, Brooks suggested people should seek out others to build upon. Instead of being right, he argued, being better informed goes further in having better diversity and inclusion in society and that diversity of thought requires hearing and understanding the perspectives of others.

Brooks weaved this principle into an example fitting for DIA and its mission to provide foreign military intelligence. He posed a scenario where two analysts, one focusing on a country’s long and complex history and the other who focuses on the same country’s emergence post-World War II, have varying perspectives, and that intelligence customers could benefit from having insights from both analysts.

The Wisdom of Crowds

Diving deeper into diversity of perspective, Brooks says diversity of participation generates even greater differences of perspective. He referenced James Surowiecki’s book “The Wisdom of Crowds” that cites examples where people with diverse backgrounds look at problems from various angles to solve issues previously unanswered.

Moreover, he pointed out the natural tendencies organizational leaders have to hold meetings with only the highest representations of the organization’s various facets “sitting at the table.” Brooks noted that this is often a disservice to decision makers as entire teams with diverse perspectives are being filtered through one person. He challenged decision makers to call upon “the others” in the room who might not be sitting at the table to provide an unfiltered perspective.

“That’s how you harness the wisdom of the crowd,” says Brooks. “It must be done intentionally. Diversity is about having the right collection of people with different views, different perspectives because of who they are, where they came from, and what they do. Capture insights from them and [do] not accept the collective view that’s been filtered.”

Walking Past

Brooks asked viewers to consider the DIA promotion system and to look at how diverse their organization is. He challenged the audience to look critically to see if all areas of diversity were present.

“Is [your organization] ethnically diverse? Socially diverse? Geo-economically diverse?” he asked. “Are there competing views in the same room? Do we select and promote based on diverse thought?”

Brooks tied this to the juxtaposition of mandated diversity and natural practice. He cited examples of businesses he’s interacted with that implemented mandates to address gender diversity but are now facing issues with ethnic diversity. He argued that naturally practicing inclusive diversity looks holistically at the entire system of personnel management – from recruiting to promotion – as the best practice. Otherwise, organizations are “walking past.”

“Recruit with diversity as an intention,” says Brooks. “If not, you’re walking past a pool of candidates. … Cultivate the rare fruit. … Identify people early, invest in their development. Don’t walk past.”

Brooks argued that if diversity is the goal, people and organizations have to be deliberate.

“It doesn’t happen by itself. It may in due time, but the fact that we’re 57 years from the March on Washington and having the same conversation says that it’s not going to happen by itself. Diversity is a repetitive behavior and it must continuously be addressed.”

Diversity without Inclusion is Hollow

While Brooks established that diversity of perspective is important within an organization, he reminded the audience that it means nothing if all employees are not included.

Brooks shared a story about his father, also an Army general, who encountered an embarrassing moment due to lack of inclusion. The story placed his father at Fort Bragg, North Carolina during a time the Army was still struggling with a recently issued desegregation order. The young captain walked into a laundry facility, passing a sign that says, “whites only.” Assuming the sign referred to clothes, Brooks’ father was highly offended when confronted by another man asking whether or not he could read.

“Diversity without inclusion is hollow and is demeaning for the unincluded,” says Brooks. “[My father] was part of the diversity of the army at the time but was not included. Diversity and inclusion must go hand-in-hand.”

Brooks asked viewers to think about inclusion and what happens when everyone is not involved; how demeaning and degrading it is for that person. He shared a story about his time at West Point as an example. As a young African American cadet, Brooks wanted to be included. This meant leading cadences, often about female sexual conquest. In hindsight, Brooks, who would later apologize to his classmates, acknowledged that he was not including his peers. Particularly women who, for the first time in history, qualified and were admitted to the military academy just as the men had.

“If inclusion means ‘I accept you as you are, as long as you’re willing to be just like me,’ … that’s the wrong way of pursuing inclusion,” he says. “When you compromise something that’s important, that’s also the wrong way to be included.”

I'm Counting on You

In his closing remarks, Brooks reiterated the impact perspective can have on DIA tradecraft, including understanding the perspective of an adversary, arguing that empathy reflects inclusion. He posed the challenge of removing nuclear weapons from North Korea. As a four-star general who commanded more than 650,000 Koreans and Americans, he argued that a resolution is difficult because of a “cultural conundrum” in how western and Asian cultures gain trust – that they are diametrically opposed.

“If we don’t recognize that by having an inclusive view that includes some degree of empathy for our adversary … we’re going to miss the mark,” Brooks explains. “I’m counting on each of you to make it different at DIA, counting on you to be deliberate in your approach to diversity and be more thoughtful about what inclusion really means. If you do that, DIA will be even better.”

DHS Public Action Plan to Implement Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence (CTTV Framework)

September 11, 2020

In September 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence (CTTV Framework) and now offers this corresponding Public Action Plan demonstrating the epartment’s efforts to combat emerging threats and improve information sharing.

The Public Action Plan provides a high-level outline of the goals set by DHS, including efforts to secure cyberspace, deter lone wolf attacks and secure soft targets such as churches and schools, along with the ability to dynamically modify DHS resources as new threats emerge.

“Nineteen years ago today, the American people came to understand the threat of terrorism in a new way. With the subsequent establishment of DHS, our nation vowed to prevent, disrupt, and deter terrorism of all sorts,” says Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf. “Today, DHS continues to take unprecedented actions to address all forms of violent extremism. This new framework draws upon the department’s intelligence, prevention, and preparedness capabilities and lays out discrete actions DHS will undertake to further safeguard our communities, schools, places of worship, cyberspace and public gatherings.”

In September 2019, the CTTV Framework was published. In September 2020, the department finalized the Public Action Plan – the public version of the department’s internal Implementation Plan, also finalized this year. Collectively, these documents describe specific actions and milestones to achieve the CTTV Framework’s goals.

This Public Action Plan does not describe the full complement of actions the department is taking to combat terrorism and targeted violence. Rather, it provides an overview and examples of our work in order to be transparent with the American people and to underscore the Department’s commitment to fulfilling the goals and objectives outlined in the CTTV Framework.

Goals of the framework include:

  • Understand the evolving terrorism and targeted violence threat environment and support partners in the Homeland Security Enterprise through this specialized knowledge.
  • Prevent terrorists and other hostile actors from entering the United States and deny them the opportunity to exploit the nation’s trade, immigration, and domestic and international travel systems.
  • Prevent terrorism and targeted violence.
  • Enhance U.S. infrastructure protections and community preparedness.

Beginning in FY21, DHS will provide annual assessments to the salient congressional committees. By 2023, DHS will demonstrate measured improvements in its ability to understand current threats and accurately forecast emerging ones; detect threats before they reach the United States and deny terrorists’ attempts to enter our nation; prevent terrorism and targeted violence in our communities; and enhance our infrastructure and community preparedness.

The successful implementation of the CTTV Framework will achieve a strategic end-state characterized by an adept and continually adapting Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) – empowered by private sector and civil society partnerships – that successfully prevents, detects, deters, dissuades, disrupts and responds to evolving terrorist and targeted violence threats. The CTTV Framework’s goals and Public Action Plan are available for review here.

DHS Combats Potential Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack

September 3, 2020

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to prepare against ever evolving threats against the American homeland, most recently highlighting efforts to combat an Electromagnetic Pulse attack which could disrupt the electrical grid and potentially damage electronics.

Today, the department is releasing the Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Program Status Report as part of an update on efforts underway in support of Executive Order (E.O.) 13865 on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses. E.O. 13865 establishes resilience and security standards for U.S. critical infrastructure as a national priority.EMP weapons have the potential to disrupt unprotected critical infrastructure within the U.S. and could impact millions over large parts of the country. Since the President’s signing of the E.O. in March 2019, DHS, through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), in coordination with the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has taken key actions to address known EMP-related vulnerabilities to critical infrastructure. The EMP Program Status Report highlights efforts taken across the public and private sector to foster increased resilience to EMP events. Through data analysis, vulnerability and risk assessments, testing and pilot programs, and government and industry engagement, the department is identifying critical infrastructure and associated functions that are at greatest risk from an EMP, and developing and implementing best practices to reduce the risk.

“EMP attacks are part of the emerging threats against our nation and demand a response,” says Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary, Ken Cuccinelli. “That is why DHS is taking these contingencies very seriously, working diligently to mitigate our risks and equipping our state and local partners with the resources they need to do the same. We’ve made significant progress and look forward to the work ahead.”

“As the nation’s risk advisor, one of CISA’s priorities is understanding and mitigating threats associated with EMPs,” says CISA Director, Chris Krebs. “Over the past year, we have worked with interagency and industry partners to identify the footprint and effects of EMP threats across our National Critical Functions, and are developing sustainable, efficient and cost-effective approaches to improving the nation’s resilience to EMPs.”

In 2018, DHS released the Strategy for Protecting and Preparing the Homeland against Threats from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and Geomagnetic Disturbance (GMD), which was the department’s first articulation of a holistic, long-term, partnership-based approach to protecting critical infrastructure and preparing to respond and recover from potentially catastrophic electromagnetic incidents.

DHS, USCIS to Modernize, Define the Collection of Biometrics

September 1, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security today announced the imminent publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes expanding department authorities and methods for collecting biometrics that will establish a defined regulatory purpose for biometrics.

With the proposed changes, DHS would modernize biometrics collection and authorize expanded use of biometrics beyond background checks to include identity verification, secure document production and records management. The proposed rule improves the screening and vetting process, and reduces our dependence on paper documents and biographic information to prove identity and familial relationships.

By proposing a standard definition of “biometrics” for DHS components and authorized purposes for collecting biometrics, this proposed rule would create clear rules for using the information collected. These proposals would move DHS and its components toward more consistent identity verification and information management.

“This proposed rule eliminates any ambiguity surrounding the department’s use of biometrics, setting clear standards for how and why we collect and use this information,” says the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security, Ken Cuccinelli. “Leveraging readily available technology to verify the identity of an individual we are screening is responsible governing. The collection of biometric information also guards against identity theft and thwarts fraudsters who are not who they claim to be.”

The proposed rule would authorize biometrics collection for identity verification in addition to new techniques. Voice, iris and facial recognition technologies are fast, accurate ways to confirm the identity of an applicant which don’t require physical contact.

The proposed rule also authorizes DHS to collect DNA or DNA test results to verify a claimed genetic relationship when the applicant or petitioner is unable to provide sufficient documentary evidence to establish the claimed relationship. Using DNA or DNA test results to help establish “family units” would help petitioners and DHS verify claims of genetic relationships and keep adults who are in custody from misrepresenting themselves as biological parents of minors who are not related to them. By using DNA or DNA tests to establish bona fide genetic relationship between adults and minors in DHS custody, DHS can better protect the well-being of children.

Full Throttle: How the IC Accelerated R&D at the Indianapolis 500

August 21, 2020

For auto racing fans around the world, the Indianapolis 500 evokes images of cars whizzing around the historic track at speeds north of 230 miles per hour. This century-old event held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is known as the “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

What’s not known by many is the Indianapolis 500 has served as an important testing ground for America’s Intelligence Community and national security apparatus.

In 2019, IARPA – the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity – partnered with local and regional law enforcement at the event to screen for traces of explosives. Using contactless infrared sensor technology, the testing involved scanning the surfaces of vehicles and personal electronics entering the grounds for chemical materials – materials that could be used to set off bombs.

While the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent IARPA from attending this year’s Indy 500 (scheduled Aug. 23), the important research and development has advanced the organization’s SILMARILS program (which stands for Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures).

“By doing field testing at an event like the Indy 500, we can access a range of samples that we could never hope to duplicate in the lab,” remarks Dr. Kristy DeWitt, who manages IARPA’s SILMARILS program. “We can also gauge the ability of the sensors to perform in real weather conditions and with a complex mixture of chemicals in the air resulting from fuel emissions from the race cars, outdoor cooking and large crowds.”

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and local law enforcement tested technology that would trace materials on surfaces from explosives, narcotics and other dangerous chemicals without physical collection and analysis during the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019.

Current approaches for detecting trace materials on surfaces from explosives, narcotics and other dangerous chemicals require physical collection and analysis (picture sniffing dogs and human screeners when you pass through the security gates at an airport).

These security measures, while effective, come with increased safety risks for the screeners and collection error. The goal of IARPA’s program is to improve these efforts with safer, faster and more convenient contactless screening methods.

“IARPA uses an eye safe laser and special camera to take a picture of the surface in the infrared at a distance up to 90 feet away from the sample. By analyzing many different colors of infrared light, the sensor can determine the chemical composition of all the elements in the picture – like how a grocery store scanner reads a barcode,” says DeWitt.

When developed, U.S. agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, as well as local law enforcement, could use the technology to contribute to counterterrorism and counter-narcotics missions.

Day-to-day examples could include contactless screening of people’s hands, packages, backpacks, luggage, portable electronics and car doors in heavily trafficked locations. In fact, according to DeWitt, DHS has already awarded a contract to pick up one implementation of the SILMARILS sensor for cargo screening.

IARPA’s SILMARILS program will end January 2021, with additional mock field testing scheduled in October at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. At that point, the science of the project will be nearly complete, says DeWitt. Efforts will then turn to improving the engineering of the technology so it can be ready to help enhance America’s national security.

To learn more about IARPA’s SILMARILS program, visit here.

Former SOCOM Commander Reflects on 40 Years of Service at DIA’s First Virtual MasterMinds

August 11, 2020

In the first virtual installment of MasterMinds, the Defense Intelligence Agency and DIA Director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., hosted retired Gen. Raymond Thomas on July 15.

Thomas, the 11th commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command and the former commander at Joint Special Operations Command, candidly shared his sentiments on leadership and perspective as he reflected on his time in the U.S. Army.

Thomas’ career began in 1980 when he commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant upon his graduation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. It ended on March 29, 2019 – four decades and four stars later.

“Retirement has provided me a completely different perspective on a lot of problems,” says Thomas. “In some cases, I haven’t changed my opinion necessarily, but I have certainly changed my perspective.”

And through the technology of Microsoft Teams, he got to share this perspective – as a career consumer of intelligence – with the DIA workforce.

Serving in places such as Colombia, Somalia, Bosnia and the Middle East, Thomas admitted that he “rode the wave of so-called ops-intel fusion.”

This frontline perspective on the relationship between operations and intelligence is why Thomas admonished his audience to allow operators and decision makers to reflect on intelligence products.

“One of the basic conversations, which I don't think happens often enough between commanding officers, senior decision makers and their intelligence professionals, is a shared appreciation for knowledge and understanding of the problems we're trying to solve and the decisions that we're trying to make,” opines Thomas.

These conversations are more necessary than ever with the current and enduring threats articulated in the National Defense Strategy. Thomas challenged his audience to view these issues with a global perspective, noting his own doubts about today’s intelligence construct and current strategy.

“For all the threats I described before – Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and violent extremism – I don’t think we have a sound national strategy on how we’re going to win for any of those. Let alone in combination,” warns Thomas.

However, despite the challenges facing the Intelligence Community, Thomas remained optimistic – both in looking back at his career and looking forward to the future.

“We are still getting the best America has to offer,” stresses Thomas. “And that’s our decisive advantage going forward.”

In addition to discussing current events and the relationship between intelligence and operations, Thomas spoke about leadership to his audience, sharing anecdotes from his time as a senior general officer.

He encouraged his audience to do two simple things: stay engaged and find a mentor. Thomas also emphasized that leaders should set the example for their teams with their actions – whether that means balancing personal relationships or delegating tasks.

After his remarks, Thomas fielded questions from the DIA workforce in a discussion moderated by Ashley, sharing his thoughts on the role of special operations forces in great power competition, diversity in special operations forces and balancing family and career.

Thomas concluded with a final reflection on his life-long service to the U.S. “I was blessed to be part of the team.”

NGA Publishes New Broad Agency Announcement for GEOINT Research

July 7, 2020

Springfield, Va. – The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency published a Broad Agency Announcement July 6, offering an updated mechanism for researchers in industry and academia to support the agency's mission and tackle difficult geospatial-intelligence problems.

The Boosting Innovative GEOINT Research BAA, known as the BIG-R BAA, enables NGA to adopt phased approaches and use multiple contract instruments to target expertise, mitigate risk and create an innovative environment for developing disruptive capabilities.

"The release of this BAA will help accelerate our research endeavors and provide NGA with the ability to expand and diversify its research performer base, while giving us better flexibility and agility in research contracting efforts," said Cindy Daniell, Ph.D., NGA director of research.

BAAs are a general announcement of an agency's research interest, including criteria for selecting proposals and soliciting the participation of all offerors capable of satisfying the government's needs. BAAs may be used by agencies to fulfill their requirements for scientific study and experimentation directed toward increasing knowledge or understanding, rather than focusing on a specific system or hardware solution.

Technical advances developed under the BIG-R BAA will enable the delivery of future GEOINT capabilities to users for operational impact aimed at solving challenging defense and intelligence problems.

New technology focus areas of interest in the domains of foundational GEOINT, advanced phenomenologies and analytic technologies align with the NGA Director's Intent and the newly released NGA Tech Strategy. A COVID-19 rapid response topic will be one of the first items posted under the BIG-R BAA.

The BIG-R BAA can be found at https://beta.sam.gov/, solicitation number HM0476-20-BAA-0001, or http://www.grants.gov/.

University of North Georgia Recognized for Crushing Codebreaker Success

July 2, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., July 2, 2020 — Desmond Henderson, a senior cyber security major at the University of North Georgia (UNG), thought the National Security Agency's Codebreaker Challenge (CBC) would be just like many of the other Capture the Flag hacking events he'd participated in over the years, but he was wrong.

"One thing stood out to me: there was no such thing as patterns. It’s not simple … I loved that," Henderson said in a recent virtual ceremony recognizing UNG for its first-place finish in the 2019 CBC. "It opened my eyes to my lack of knowledge and stimulated a lot of internal crying and pulling my hair out."

Henderson, who is also a leader in UNG's Cyber Special Unit and ROTC Corps of Cadets, was one of 30 students from UNG to complete the seventh and final level of the CBC. Only 50 students nationwide completed the challenge, which is just 1 percent of the 3,800-some students who started it last fall.

"I am amazed by what you all have done. Not only have you excelled and exceeded and reached the top, but you have crushed the competition," said NSA Deputy Director George Barnes at the virtual ceremony. "We take on the toughest challenges and we do that for our nation, and the good thing about this competition is, it's hopefully piqued the interest of students to think about doing this for a profession. We have challenges you couldn't even imagine."

The annual Codebreaker Challenge offers students a closer look at the type of work done at NSA and provides an opportunity to develop skills needed to achieve the Agency's national security mission, including software reverse engineering, cryptanalysis, exploit development and more. The 2019 challenge dealt with a mobile secure messaging app with a scenario that involved tech-savvy terrorists using it to communicate. Students had to develop capabilities to enable message spoofing, user masquerades and message decryption to thwart the terrorists and foil an attack.

"This is really hard," said Mike Annichiarico, a member of the team that creates the challenge. "We decided to make it difficult on purpose in the hopes that 1 to 2 percent of all players are able to solve it. The fact that a single university had this many solvers is really amazing."

At UNG, 184 students started the challenge and 66 made it to level six. Georgia Institute of Technology came in second, with 114 students entering the challenge and two completing it. Oregon State University – last year's winner – came in third, with 94 students entering and one completing it.

UNG President Dr. Bonita Jacobs said she was happy to be able to recognize the students last week and the "magnificent" job they had done.

"These students have been incredible," she said. "These students you will hear about in the future. They are going to be cyber experts."

UNG students who completed level seven received special Codebreaker Challenge Medallions. Those who completed the second-highest level received certificates signed by the Director of NSA.

Dr. Bryson Payne, Director for Cyber Operations Education at UNG, lauded NSA for the partnerships that have enabled the university to build such a nationally competitive team. From GenCyber camps sponsored by NSA to the support provided as a National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, NSA has been a lifeline to UNG, he said. The Agency, in turn, has seen a return on the investment with the number of interns from UNG increasing each year and most continuing to work at the Agency.

"It's a terrific program. The internships really connect the students to NSA," Payne said. "They speak so highly of their experience that others want to get jobs there, too."

Several NSA employees spoke about the many opportunities at the Agency, including development programs that allow for trying different areas of expertise and the chance to travel and work outside of the United States. A new NSA employee stressed to the students that their achievement on the CBC proved they are ready to work at NSA.

After the ceremony, students stayed on to ask the Codebreaker team questions ranging from getting a job at NSA to ways to increase their skills. Everyone wanted to know about the 2020 Codebreaker Challenge set to kick off in mid-September, but the team was not ready to divulge any details.

"I personally can't wait for this year's (challenge) to come around so we can strive to repeat our victory," said Daniel Haugen, a UNG 2019 CBC solver. "There is no better way to apply what we are learning."

Defense Intelligence Agency Launches Official Podcast

June 23, 2020

The Defense Intelligence Agency announced today the release of its official podcast, "DIA Connections." The podcast explores the DIA mission and its people.

"DIA Connections" gives the public an inside look at some of the lesser-known agency missions, the people involved and the impact on national security. Listeners also have the opportunity to hear from distinguished speakers on topics ranging from military history to national security to Hollywood filmmaking.

The inaugural episode, "Fentanyl," examines DIA's role in tracking the shadowy production and distribution networks of this lethal drug. Additional episodes will be posted every two weeks. "DIA Connections" is now available on the DIA website, as well as Apple Podcasts, DVIDS, Spotify and YouTube.

DIA's mission is to provide intelligence on foreign militaries to prevent and win wars. Nearly 50 percent of DIA's 16,500 employees are stationed outside Washington, D.C., at national intelligence centers, combatant commands, combat zones and defense attaché offices worldwide.

DIA Officer Graduates Top of Class from National Defense University

June 19, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, June 19, 2020 — On June 12, the Defense Intelligence Agency's Kim Hendricks should have walked across the stage at Fort McNair, Washington, during a graduation ceremony for the National Defense University. Instead, she watched Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, deliver the commencement address via video – a now-familiar occurrence due to COVID-19.

But no pandemic can undermine her hard work, determination and success during her time at NDU's National War College. In fact, her most recent achievement was one that few can tout – the honor of distinguished graduate.

Her path to distinguished graduate began before she started at the National War College.

Hendricks joined DIA in 2003 as an analyst, pursuing a career in the Intelligence Community for the rigor and significance of the work.

"I wanted to have an impact," she explained. "I felt a strong calling to support my country and to support the military."

This desire to defend the nation and protect the warfighter led Hendricks across the Agency – from the Directorate for Analysis to the Command Element to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

Her experiences in the analytical and financial fields provided her with a unique mission perspective and a deep understanding of how resources impact the IC.

"DIA prepared me incredibly well for the National War College because of the opportunities afforded to me at the Agency," she said.

As one of the most prestigious educational opportunities for intelligence professionals, the National War College offers a comprehensive overview of the instruments of power and how they influenced the strategic operating environment throughout the course of history.

"It gave me a much broader perspective than just resources," commented Hendricks. "Without the mission, you would not need the resources."

During the 10-month program, Hendricks embraced the academic rigor of her courses.

"I committed myself," she explained. "I wanted to get the most out of my experience, and if I was going to do this, I was going to do it the right way."

And she did just that – and then some.

Earning the honor of distinguished graduate is an accomplishment only the top 10 percent of each National War College class can achieve for a "clearly superior performance" as determined by the faculty. Moreover, Hendricks did so with three kids under the age of 10, who were affected by the childcare facility closures that began mid-March.

In looking back on her career and to her future in the IC, Hendricks encourages DIA officers to chart their own path.

"You don't have to do things the traditional way," she said. "Don't be afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom."

50 Years of Pride: Celebrating NSA's Commitment to Promoting Respect, Individuality, Diversity and Equality

June 17, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., June 17, 2020 — June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Pride Month celebrations, where members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, aromantic/asexual (LGBTQIA+) community, plus numerous other identities on the spectrum, come together to celebrate each other and raise awareness of issues facing the collective Pride Community.

The first Pride march was held on June 28, 1970 in New York City, marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement and possibly history's first major protest on behalf of equal rights for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Since then, during the month of June, our nation recognizes the immeasurable contributions of the Pride Community and creates intentional spaces for LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies to come together in celebration of the diversity in America.

Although COVID-19 has changed how Pride Month is being observed this year, the National Security Agency is proud to have a robust and active Pride community full of individuals who contribute to every aspect of NSA's mission. The community provides educational opportunities to others in the workforce and promotes awareness around LGBTQIA+ issues for greater inclusion at NSA.

NSA believes that every person deserves fair and equitable treatment regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation; we are working to protect every American 24/7, 365 days a year.

New NGA St. Louis Campus Construction Continues on Schedule Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

June 12, 2020

Construction on NGA's new campus in north St. Louis is progressing without significant delays despite the COVID-19 pandemic, said Sue Pollmann, program director for the Next NGA West. The building is slated to be completed in 2023, with IT installation in 2024 and a move-in date of 2025.

Pollmann said circumstances have helped keep facility construction on track during the pandemic.

"We're still in design, and the construction work right now is outdoors and not contained inside a building," Pollmann said. Public health experts have said the threat of virus transmission is reduced outdoors.

Pollmann said both NGA employees and NGA's partner organizations are taking precautions to avoid transmission of the virus.

Pollmann said that NGA has been maximizing telework opportunities to reduce the number of people working on-site in trailers, giving the people who are there "plenty of room to spread out."

Col. William Hannan Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Kansas City District, said that the Corps of Engineers, which is managing the construction of NGA's new campus on behalf of NGA, and its construction partners are taking "deliberate measures to keep our workforce safe and continue construction to the best of our ability in this environment."

Jeff Boyer, vice president of operations for McCarthy Building Company, said COVID-19 is "on everyone's mind." McCarthy is part of the facility's design-build team, along with HITT Contracting.

"We've had to make some changes on how we've worked," he said. "The focus has been surrounding the safety and health of employees, subcontractors and the community. We're following CDC and state and local health officials' guidelines. There is additional sanitizing on-site, and we follow social distancing and use face masks and face covering when social distancing is not achievable."

Boyer said that with the work being done currently, there is a low density of workers on-site, often using large machinery, and that social distancing naturally occurs.

Michael Pranger, vice president of operations for Castle Contracting, which is performing the grading and utilities work, said that because the site work provides natural spacing, his team hasn't seen an impact to their work. "We're making sure we're providing people the necessary PPE [personal protective equipment] to feel comfortable doing their job," he said.

Boyer said work on the site the past few months has been primarily grading and mapping and installation of site utilities, such as water, electrical and sewers. Boyer said the team has moved approximately 850,000 cubic yards of dirt to prepare the site. "That's enough to fill [St. Louis Cardinals' baseball] Busch Stadium one and a half times over," he said.

Boyer said work on the foundation is scheduled to begin in June.

Pollmann said that she's very excited to be at a stage where progress will be visible.

"We can actually see the earthmoving going on at the site, the access control point is taking shape, soon there will be a formal gate where workers will enter and be screened," she said. "It's very exciting after years of defining requirements, contracting work and design, that we're now at the point where people can literally see things happening."

COVID-19 also has not delayed the hiring of contractors and subcontractors, said Boyer. He said that McCarthy-HITT is placing "a heavy emphasis on small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses to help us meet goals for the project."

The NGA campus' construction goals are to include 25 percent minority-owned and 5 percent woman-owned businesses for subcontractor participation; and 15 percent minority and greater than 5 percent female for the individual workforce participation.

Hannan said that attracting a qualified workforce for the construction of the facility is imperative for the project. "That's how they are successful," he said.

He said the Corps of Engineers and its partners have hosted four construction job fairs in St. Louis to attract some of that workforce, and there will be plans for more.

"As you continue to see those fairs, come on out, see what's available," he said. "It's a good opportunity in our region."

"Cyber 9-Line" Improves Cybersecurity and Enables Election Integrity

June 9, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., June 9, 2020 — When Dorchester County reported a ransomware attack on a majority of its servers this past January, Maryland turned to a program recently established by U.S. Cyber Command and the National Guard.

Less than 48 hours after the late-January 2020 attack, the Maryland Air National Guard was on-site at the county offices along with their state partners, ready to assist.

The "Cyber 9-Line" is a template of questions that participating National Guard units use to quickly communicate a cyber incident to USCYBERCOM. The data provided enables USCYBERCOM's Cyber National Mission Force to further diagnose a foreign attack and provide timely, unclassified feedback to the unit, who shares with state and county governments to address the cyber incident. This process is a key aspect of how USCYBERCOM helps strengthen America's cybersecurity and enables election integrity.

Securing the 2020 presidential election is NSA and USCYBERCOM's number one priority.

"This level of cooperation and feedback provides local, state and Department of Defense partners with a holistic view of threats occurring in the United States and abroad," said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. William Hartman, USCYBERCOM's Election Security Group lead and CNMF Commander. "Dealing with a significant cyber incident requires a whole-of-government defense; bidirectional lines on communication and data sharing enables the collective effort to defend elections."

Establishing the Cyber 9-Line

The Cyber 9-Line operates similarly to the military reporting used by battlefield medics to quickly and accurately report combat injuries while in the field. It represents the first step in the information exchange program (IEP) created in late 2019 by the Joint Cyber Command & Control program office, under the direction of U.S. Air Force Col. Samuel Kinch, the National Guard Advisor to USCYBERCOM.

Currently, most states and territories have Cyber 9-Line training planned or are establishing accounts. To date, 12 states have completed the registration process and are now able to leverage DOD resources against foreign adversaries and strengthen U.S. networks.

By better informing USCYBERCOM on the range of foreign cyber activity in the U.S., Cyber 9-Line enables the defense of elections – the number one priority of both the command and the National Security Agency.

"These relationships have been cultivated for many years via personal connections made by our Citizen-Airmen, which allows us to respond quickly," said U.S. Air Force Col. Reid Novotny, Maryland National Guard J6. "Knowing that the Maryland Department of IT was handling restoration and the FBI was doing investigation, the 175th Cyber Operations Group provided the connectivity to the national resources located in our backyard at USCYBERCOM through a Cyber 9-Line."

Maryland's quick response to the incident generated an immediate investigation by the FBI, building upon the FBI's strong relationship with the state's National Guard Cyber Protection Team. The FBI successfully identified the vector of attack and shared the critical information with the affected state and National Guard partners.

Working together, the FBI and National Guard collected evidence and developed a mitigation strategy, generating a Cyber 9-Line to USCYBERCOM.

Leveraging Big Data Against Adversaries

Thanks to the open lines of communication across government agencies, USCYBERCOM can now leverage key insights from stateside cyber incidents through the National Guard. This valuable data on cyber incidents in state and federal government is captured in the second part of what the IEP provides: intelligent use of USCYBERCOM's existing unclassified cyber Big Data Platform (BDP).

The BDP specifically focuses on malign cyber activity, providing critical defense capabilities for participating state and national cyber forces. By having the ability to inform incident response at the state and local levels, the BDP allows USCYBERCOM to better combat foreign activity.

"The CNMF, via the National Guard, may enable states to quickly identify additional indicators of threats, which states can then implement and defend themselves quicker than ever before," Kinch said. "That's going to be a huge collective win for us all."

Additionally, the BDP provides all participants access to previous malware reports and states' submissions in order to proactively employ and improve their cyber defenses.

"The Cyber 9-Line is still in its infancy, but after standing up this program a few months ago, we have already [seen an impact]," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Pacini, CNMF Future Operations Deputy Chief. "Ultimately, the goal is to provide mutual support to each other."

Impact on Election Security and Beyond

The implications of Cyber 9-Line go beyond diagnosing ransomware: The implementation of the Cyber 9-Line plays a key role in the whole-of-nation effort to defend elections from foreign interference.

"A consistent message we hear in our engagements with the election security community is a desire for more robust and timely exchanges of information – we need their insights and they need insights from the intelligence community and U.S. government," said David Imbordino, NSA’s Election Security Group lead. "The Cyber 9-Line has been an excellent step to improve that issue."

Cyber information provided through the National Guard units contributes to NSA and Intelligence Community insight-driven operations, allowing CNMF teams to pursue bad actors on foreign partner networks. The data ingested into the BDP through the Cyber 9-Line notifies USCYBERCOM's "Hunt Forward" operations. This is one way the agency and the command are imposing time, money and access costs to disrupt and disable the adversary's capabilities to impact U.S. elections.

"The whole-of-government must capitalize on information exchange to successfully reinforce defenses against potential cyber threats at home and abroad," said Hartman. "U.S. Cyber Command will continue to strengthen our alliances with our partners, persistently engage our adversaries and, when authorized, impose costs on those foreign actors who threaten to interfere with the U.S. democratic process."

IC CIO John Sherman on Being an Effective Senior Leader

June 4, 2020

Go outside your comfort zone; keep strengthening your skills; engage with people from different backgrounds; and remember the mission. These were just a few tips that IC CIO John Sherman shared with more than 600 attendees during a virtual "Coffee and Conversation" event hosted by INSA (the Intelligence and National Security Alliance) on June 2.

Sherman – whose career has brought him to high-stakes posts, such as serving as a duty officer in the White House Situation Room on Sept. 11, 2001, being the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Military Affairs and holding several senior-level positions across the IC – highlighted his four key thoughts on executive leadership:

  1. Careers can take unexpected paths – so be flexible and learn each step, each position along the way.
  2. Build the core corporate skills that are crucial for senior leadership (e.g., budget development and management; strong network; media engagement and public speaking; understanding the national security policy process; working with international partners).
  3. Savour your victories but learn from your mistakes … even if it's difficult to do.
  4. Mentor colleagues (and make time to stay in touch with them), inspire your team and don't ever forget the "why" behind our work (which can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day grind).

He also stressed the importance of asking the tough – and even fundamental – questions as a leader so you can absorb the issue and clearly communicate it to audiences.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it's probably a pretty good bet it is going to be too arcane for those you're trying to present it to," he remarked.

Sherman delivered the chat before he officially departs the IC next week to become the Principal Deputy CIO for the U.S. Department of Defense. Sherman has served as the IC CIO since September 2017.

He briefly reflected on his time in the IC and offered a few words of advice for those interested in joining the IC ranks.

"It's going to be a long marathon. Be ready. Buckle your chinstrap. Be willing to learn. Be there for your teammates," he said. "If there's ever a team sport, this is it. I would not be anywhere where I am right now without the great group of CIOs I've had a chance to work with across the interagency."

NGA Tech Strategy Shows the Way to Geospatial Advantage

May 29, 2020

Springfield, Va. —The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency published the agency's technology strategy May 29, highlighting its path to continued GEOINT dominance through improving internal processes and leveraging industry-leading technology.

"Maintaining our advantage as the world leader in geospatial intelligence requires a sound digital enterprise," said NGA Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp. "We depend on this system of systems to provide speed, accuracy and precision in our mission to show the way – either physically from point A to point B on land, sea and air, or logically in making national security decisions."

The NGA Technology Strategy outlines the current technology environment, the vision for tomorrow and how the agency and the geospatial ecosystem can reach this desired end state. The way ahead incorporates a number of key initiatives.

  • Enable builders and makers
  • Transform digital workspaces
  • Build with customers
  • Treat data as a strategic asset
  • Build artificial intelligence, cloud and high-performance computing into GEOINT mainstream

The NGA Technology Strategy was developed concurrently with the 2020 NGA Tech Focus Areas, which details current and enduring agency technology needs.

"This strategy focuses on enabling those who build and make technology to support NGA and the systems for geospatial intelligence," said NGA Chief Technology Officer Mark Munsell. "We firmly believe that the most important technology problem is not the adoption of artificial intelligence or quantum computing, but a fostering of a technology workforce steeped in GEOINT and enabling them with an environment to deliver the best applications and services in the world."

The NGA Technology Strategy is available for download here.

Exim Mail Transfer Agent Actively Exploited by Russian GRU Cyber Actors

May 28, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., May 28, 2020 — Russian military cyber actors, publicly known as Sandworm Team, have been exploiting a vulnerability in Exim mail transfer agent (MTA) software since at least last August.

Exim is a widely used MTA software for Unix-based systems and comes pre-installed in some Linux distributions as well. The vulnerability being exploited, CVE-2019-10149, allows a remote attacker to execute commands and code of their choosing. The Russian actors, part of the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate's (GRU) Main Center for Special Technologies (GTsST), have used this exploit to add privileged users, disable network security settings, execute additional scripts for further network exploitation; pretty much any attacker's dream access – as long as that network is using an unpatched version of Exim MTA.

When the patch was released last year, Exim urged its users to update to the latest version. NSA adds its encouragement to immediately patch to mitigate against this still-current threat.

For more information on this vulnerability and associated mitigations, review our Cybersecurity Advisory "Sandworm Actors Exploiting Vulnerability in Exim Mail Transfer Agent." To receive notice of future cybersecurity product releases and technical guidance, follow our new Twitter handle @NSAcyber.

To read more, check out NSA's Cybersecurity Advisories & Technical Guidance at nsa.gov/cybersecurity/

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 22, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., May 22, 2020 — Each May, the United States celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month to commemorate the vital contributions of Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians to the American story and to recognize some of the challenges they have faced along the way. This year, the Department of Defense has chosen a theme of "We Answered the Call," aligning the AAPI Heritage Month observance with the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of World War II, a period replete with stories of incredible bravery and patriotism by Asian-American and Pacific Islanders on behalf of our nation and its allies. Indeed, many of their stories offer us much to celebrate and learn from.

Also compelling is the theme selected by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), representing Asian-American and Pacific Islander employees in the federal government and District of Columbia. Their theme this year is "Unite Our Nation by Empowering Equality," with a focus not only on the advancement of the AAPI community but on the unifying power that is generated through equality. It is a particularly poignant and timely theme given the challenges brought on and highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As they did 75 years ago during World War II, members of the AAPI community have experienced mistreatment and racism associated with the origins of COVID-19, and yet they continue to make incredible contributions to our country and in our local communities to include serving at the forefront of efforts to curb the spread and impact of the virus.

This pandemic in no way lessens the significance of the month or the impact of the many contributions and remarkable stories of Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians, both now and throughout our nation's history. With roughly 94 percent of the 20 million Asian-Americans in the U.S. today tracing their roots to 19 different origin groups from East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, we can appreciate the rich diversity they represent and the unique histories, cultures, languages and experiences they are weaving into the fabric of the U.S., making it stronger and more beautiful with each new thread.

Like most commemorative months and heritage observances, AAPI Heritage Month was instituted by Congress via a joint House/Senate resolution that was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. What started as a week-long celebration was later extended to a month-long observance by President George H.W. Bush starting in 1992. While it is true that this pandemic has challenged us and perhaps forever changed us, it may also have given us an unexpected opportunity to support one another in incredibly kind and powerful ways. Maybe it will also prompt us to go a step further than President Bush did and extend our AAPI heritage appreciation throughout the year.

Acting DNI Grenell Statement on U.S. Intent to Withdraw from Open Skies Treaty

May 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell today issued the following statement regarding the United States formally submitting its intent to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty:

"For years, Russia has systematically violated the terms of the Open Skies Treaty to the detriment of the United States, our allies and partners. No country should tolerate such treaty abuses and we're taking action to right this wrong. America can't be expected to keep its skies open to Russian monitoring flights, while Russia is unwilling to reciprocate on equal terms. Russia's treaty violations have undermined the central purpose of the treaty while imperilling its neighbors and jeopardizing U.S. national security."

Secretary of Defense Visits NSA and U.S. Cyber Command

May 21, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., May 21, 2020 — On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper toured the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command's (USCC) Integrated Cyber Center (ICC) on Fort Meade. This visit coincides with the USCC 10th anniversary of its stand-up as a new sub-unified combatant command.

Secretary Esper received briefings on NSA and USCC's capabilities to defend the nation, and Gen. Paul M. Nakasone led the Secretary on a tour of the ICC. All personnel involved wore masks when it was not possible to maintain a six-foot distance from one another.

The Integrated Cyber Center is a 24/7 worldwide cyber watch center that facilitates real-time coordination, deconfliction and intelligence. Personnel from both the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command work closely in the ICC to achieve national security objectives.

Acting DNI Speaks with BBC Persian Television

May 19, 2020

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell spoke with BBC Persian Television about ongoing efforts to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe.

Watch the interview here: https://www.bbc.com/persian/world-52701440

NGA Director Shares His Intent for the Future of GEOINT

May 14, 2020

Springfield, Va. — National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Vice Adm. Robert Sharp published the Director's Intent May 14, calling on the GEOINT community to reorient and realign priorities to achieve mission success in an ever-changing operational environment.

The Director's Intent is an expression of the conditions NGA must establish to accomplish its mission and desired end state, through three tangible actions:

  • Give primacy to our core missions,
  • Be the world's premier GEOINT force, and
  • Relentlessly pursue a whole-of-enterprise approach.

"We have arrived at a historic inflection point – for our nation, NGA and the [GEOINT] community," said Sharp. "This is a time of great change and great challenge, but also one of great hope and great opportunity."

The Director's Intent, supported by the NGA Strategy and the NGA Mission Imperatives, is to create an asymmetric strategic advantage no adversary can match.

"We will take all necessary actions to sustain GEOINT supremacy and hold our adversaries at risk," said Sharp. "We will measure our success by the value we provide to others: the speed, accuracy and precision with which we deliver actionable information to decision makers and warfighters at every level."

The NGA | Director's Intent document is available for download.

Serving the Frontlines, Paying Respect Through the Pandemic

May 13, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, May 13, 2020 — As news of the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, many businesses and companies closed their doors, and employees were sent home to telework or wait for more information. But, first responders don't have that choice. Their work can't be done from the comforts of their home, and when mayhem strikes, more first responders answer the call for support.

The members of the Defense Intelligence Agency police force are no different. While much of the Agency is teleworking, conducting training from their homes or on admin leave awaiting the time to go back to the office, the DIA Police stands vigil.

"Serving during this pandemic can definitely be stressful at times," said DIA Police Officer Aaron Maxwell. "As a federal law enforcement officer, I've trained primarily to use physical and other sensory attributes to perform my duties. However, with COVID-19, these same attributes could lead to myself or another officer potentially being exposed."

After a health report declared that the coronavirus could live on clothing for up to 72 hours and dry cleaning would not kill the virus, the DIA Police switched to wearing the training uniform for duty, rather than the patrol uniform. The police can wash the training uniforms at home and in hot water. This made the clothes compliant per CDC recommendations and reduced the risk of infection.

Donning a different uniform than usual, CDC-compliant face coverings and protective gloves, the DIA Police haven't altered their operations. It is business as usual.

Understanding the real dangers of their jobs, DIA's Belinda Justice handmade and delivered thank you notes, goodie bags, snacks and water to the DIA Police.

"They deserve to know that their commitment and hard work is appreciated," Justice said. "With sincere gratitude, I am grateful. Our police officers are our heroes."

This is a sentiment shared in advertisements and YouTube messages from celebrities. A resounding "thank you" to first responders has been echoed near and far as the pandemic continues.

While, now more than ever, the Nation seems most appreciative of first responder efforts, every year the Nation recognizes the men and women who serve the front lines as police officers during National Police Week.

The tradition began in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week that day falls on as National Police Week. Events during this week pay homage to law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and honor and thank current serving police members. This year's NPW is May 10-16.

With the current pandemic, many of the usual festivities were canceled. Some moved to a virtual format and others continue as planned. One such event that had been in the works for months was the DIA Police’s first-ever wreath-laying ceremony. However, DIA Police Chief Andre Tibbs and National Capital Region Area Commander Maj. Robert Lownes planned every precaution so that participants were safe, abiding by CDC and Agency health guidance.

"Next year, we hope the workforce will be able to join us for the event," said Tibbs. "But it was important that we still held this ceremony to pay respect to our fellow police."

He went on to explain that while the DIA Police is a federal entity, every person who has served or is serving in a law enforcement position understands and feels the pain of a line-of-duty loss.

For NPW events, more than U.S. police departments and civilians participate. International partners, such as from Canada and the U.K., also send law enforcement officials to represent the departments at scheduled events, signifying the unity among those wearing a badge and donning the uniform across the globe.

"It was always a dream to do what I love each and every day," said DIA Police Sgt. Nicolet Gibbs. "To serve during a time such as this has given me a newly profound respect for myself and fellow first responders, who choose to show up and perform their duties despite the exigent circumstances. It is good to know we are in this together."

To learn more about the DIA Police, read about their lineage online, visit DIA.mil or the Agency's social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). To learn more about the National Police Week schedule of events and changes, visit the NPW website.

A Message from NSA Director and Commander, U.S. Cyber Command General Paul M. Nakasone to Families

April 30, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., April 30, 2020 — General Paul M. Nakasone, Commander U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service, addresses familiy members of those at the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

To read the letter, click the link here.

NGA Tech Focus Areas Chart Path for Geospatial Technologies

April 29, 2020

Springfield, Va. — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency highlights current and enduring technology needs in a guide released April 29.

The publication of the 2020 Technology Focus Areas communicates emerging areas of emphasis for NGA and the geospatial intelligence community to enable stronger collaboration between the agency, industry, academia and other government and community partners.

"This document is focused on our needs, rather than specific technologies," said Mark Munsell, NGA Chief Technology Officer. "The changes we must make cannot only occur within the confines of NGA – they require the innovative spirit of industry to find new and unique solutions to some of our most difficult challenges."

NGA's technology needs are divided into five categories:

  • Advanced Analytics and Modeling
  • Data Management
  • Modern Software Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Future of Work

"The tech focus areas aren't 'shelf ware' – we are identifying opportunities to leverage non-traditional acquisition capabilities to address the needs outlined in this document," said Christy Monaco, NGA Chief Ventures Officer.

The NGA 2020 Technology Focus Areas document is available for download.

Working from Home? Select and Use Collaboration Services More Securely

April 24, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., April 24, 2020 — Because of COVID-19, many U.S. government employees and military service members are working from home to provide continuity of government services. Malicious cyber actors are taking advantage of this.

NSA's recently released Selecting and Safely Using Collaboration Services for Telework cybersecurity guidance contains a snapshot of current, commercially available collaboration tools, along with a list of security criteria to consider when selecting which capability to leverage. In addition, the guidance contains a high-level security assessment of how each capability measures up against the defined security criteria, which can be used to more quickly identify the risks and features associated with each tool.

An extended version of Selecting and Safely Using Collaboration Services for Telework is also available.

NSA encourages all who are working from home to review this guidance to make more informed decisions about which collaboration capability best meets their particular need. By following the practical guidelines listed in the CSI, users can mitigate some of the risks posed by malicious cyber threat actors.

To read more, check out NSA's Cybersecurity Advisories & Technical Guidance at nsa.gov/cybersecurity/

Detect & Prevent Cyber Attackers from Exploiting Web Servers via Web Shell Malware

April 22, 2020

Fort Meade, Md., April 22, 2020 — Malicious cyber actors have increasingly leveraged web shells to gain or maintain access on victim networks. Web shell malware is software deployed by a hacker, usually on a victim's web server, that can execute arbitrary system commands, commonly sent over HTTPS. To harden and defend web servers against this threat, NSA and the Australian Signals Directorate have issued a dual-seal Cybersecurity Information Sheet (CSI).

This product contains valuable information on how to detect and prevent web shell malware from affecting Department of Defense and other government web servers, though the guidance would likely also be useful for any network defenders responsible for maintaining web servers. Web shell malware has been a threat for years and continues to evade detection from most security tools. Malicious cyber actors are increasingly leveraging this type of malware to get consistent access to compromised networks while using communications that blend in well with legitimate traffic. This means attackers might send system commands over HTTPS or route commands to other systems, including to your internal networks, which may appear as normal network traffic.

This CSI contains detection techniques, along with links to signatures and lists maintained on GitHub. This report also highlights prevention techniques and recovery guidance. NSA encourages network defenders who maintain web servers to review this technical guidance and apply the mitigations as appropriate.

To read more, check out NSA's Cybersecurity Advisories & Technical Guidance at nsa.gov/cybersecurity/

DIA Deploys Hand Sanitizer from Local Distilleries

April 20, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, April 20, 2020 — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, there has been a growing shortage of disinfecting products available to consumers, specifically hand sanitizer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released guidance allowing distilleries to produce hand sanitizer to accommodate the growing need – a need that was becoming widespread at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

To acquire more hand sanitizer, officers from multiple parts of the agency worked together to procure 45 gallons of hand sanitizer produced by a distillery in Maryland and one in Virginia.

After obtaining the hand sanitizer, the team faced the next challenge of how to refill the dispensers with the new product. This may sound like an easy task, but the dispensers at DIA facilities in the Washington, D.C. area are not designed or fabricated to be refilled.

"I thought it would be seven to 10 days for us to solve the refilling problem, which had two distinct problem sets: bottle and bag dispensers," said Don Roy, Chief of the Facilities Engineering Division.

To his surprise, with the technical expertise of DIA employees, it took less than a day to solve the refilling issues. The team developed a system to heat and reseal the bags and insert the new hand sanitizer into the bottles via a syringe.

Together, with the help of teleworking officers, the agency was able to locate distilleries, develop a technical solution to refill the current dispensers and purchase a bulk of hand sanitizer to assist in ensuring the safety of the DIA workforce.

"The cooperation between all groups is strong because of long-standing relationships and collaboration," Roy stated.

After the success of this procurement, DIA is working to deliver additional hand sanitizer to other DIA locations.

As the nation continues to adapt to the changing world, DIA relies on the creativity and innovation of the workforce to advance its mission. Whether in the office or teleworking, DIA officers always find a way to do what matters.

Donating Time, Materials to Keep DIA Safe

April 17, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, April 17, 2020 — In times of crisis and chaos, it's said that a person's true character reveals itself. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, there have been many acts of kindness demonstrated by neighbors, communities and strangers.

At the Defense Intelligence Agency, co-workers have stepped up to lend a hand, too.

One example is Meredith Nunn, a member of DIA's Directorate for Analysis. She’s sewn and donated more than 50 cloth face coverings to the DIA Police and plans to make more.

"I believe I heard from Officer Scott Motes on April 4 that they were running out of masks, and DIA was going to start implementing the 100 percent temp checks that next week," she said. "I knew from experience that the police have more exposure to personnel and places in the building than any other group, outside of janitorial staff, and I felt compelled to do my part to keep them safe."

An avid quilter, Nunn has collected a vast amount of material and fabric for her craft room.

"I have been collecting fabric for about 12 years to make different quilts and other sewing projects," she said. "When I ran out of elastic and tie materials, I purchased a large amount of grosgrain ribbon, one of the recommended/preferred tie materials from medical professionals."

After she launders, irons, cuts and pins the fabric, it takes her approximately 10 minutes to sew the face covering. She reports that if she has to make the ties herself, the process adds 40 minutes. But, on average, Nunn estimates that from iron to final stitch, it takes her 30 minutes. Each covering is compliant with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and comes in multiple colors and pattern fabrics.

Regardless of the invested time or the cost of materials, Nunn said she's not charging.

"I think it is unethical to charge for something simple (that) keeps people safe during this unprecedented time," she said.

While not looking to expand her operations, Nunn stays busy making and donating face coverings to friends and family members – more than 100 and counting. She's sent some to her mother's hospital in Maine, nursing home staff members, neighbors and essential analysts at DIA.

"I plan to keep making them until I run out of fabric or the need is gone," she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nunn learned about a Facebook group called Million Mask Challenge, which connects "craftivists" in the National Capital Region to make face coverings for medical professionals in the area. Currently, the group features nearly 4,000 members who collectively have made 28,000 face coverings. Inspired by the group, Nunn said not only will she continue creating face coverings for people who've asked, but she will create face coverings for medical staff in need on behalf of the Million Mask Challenge.

NSA Seeks Proposals from Colleges for New Scholarship Program for Students

February 24, 2020

Ft. Meade, Md. – The National Security Agency (NSA) is introducing a new program to generate partnerships with colleges and universities and increase its employee pipeline of underrepresented minorities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Representatives from academic institutions can sumbmit proposals for the OnRamp II program, which will provide scholarships and internships for students, sabbatical opportunities for faculty and the chance to collaborate in mission-focused cybersecurity research.

"We are really excited about this new chance to partner with colleges and universities and to provide opportunities benefitting students, faculty, the institutions, as well as NSA," said Kathy Hutson, senior strategist for academic engagement at the agency. "Our initial OnRamp program was incredibly successful in supporting students in STEM fields, and we hope the new program will take it a step further to bring these students to NSA."

The initial OnRamp program began in 2009 and supported students preparing for STEM careers aimed at minorities, women and others not traditionally involved in these fields. The program provided tuition, academic support, professional development and more in order to develop competitive candidates for graduate programs. OnRamp II focuses on fostering educational partnerships between NSA and academic institutions to increase the pipeline of students in STEM disciplines pursuing employment with NSA while enhancing their academic caliber. The program will provide the following for OnRamp II selected schools:

  • Academic scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in return for a service obligation to work at NSA
  • Internship opportunities for students
  • Academic and career advice and assistance for students
  • Sabbatical opportunities at NSA for faculty members to enhance collaboration between the school and NSA
  • Contract-based, mission-focused cybersecurity research

"The main objective of this effort is to promote the technical health of a strongly diverse STEM pipeline for NSA and to increase collaboration between NSA and academic institutions," Hutson said. "While this program is not restricted to underrepresented students in STEM fields, proposals that demonstrate success advancing students in these groups will be the most competitive."

NSA is currently seeking proposals from educational institutions desiring to enter an OnRamp II Educational Partnership Agreement with NSA. All regionally accredited four-year and graduate-level institutions in the United States and its territories designated as NSA and/or Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence are eligible to submit proposals. Approximately four schools will be chosen as OnRamp II Schools the first year. Proposals are due by April 10, 2020.

DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary Glawe Provides Remarks to the National Sheriffs' Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America

February 13, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Under Secretary of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and Chief Intelligence Officer David J. Glawe provided remarks for both the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) and the Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 10 and 11, 2020. The events included sheriffs from across the nation and sheriffs elected to represent major counties across America.

The MCSA is a professional law enforcement association that includes the largest elected sheriffs' offices representing counties or parishes with populations of 500,000 or more. The association is dedicated to preserving the highest integrity in law enforcement and the elected office of the sheriff. This membership alone represents over 100 million Americans.

NSA's mission is to serve the Office of Sheriff and its affiliates through law enforcement education and training and through the provision of general law enforcement informational resources. The association represents thousands of sheriffs, deputies, public safety professionals and concerned citizens nationwide.

Under Secretary Glawe discussed DHS's intelligence priorities and opportunities within the organization to enhance sharing intelligence information with state and local partners across both sheriffs' associations.

"The success of DHS in detecting and mitigating threats depends on strong relationships with our state and local partners. This also includes intelligence analysts and law enforcement professionals that work behind the scenes every day to identify threat actors, whether they are terrorists, drug traffickers, cyber criminals or gang members," said Under Secretary Glawe. "Collectively, these partners also work within our Fusion Centers, which remain the key touchpoint for intelligence collection and information sharing across the centers and safeguarding the American people."

As ever-growing threat streams increase in the United States, I&A has enhanced its collaboration with and support to state and local law enforcement through increasing its number of deployed intelligence professionals and information sharing within Fusion Centers. Additionally, I&A surged 19 intelligence officers to the Southwest border for several months in 2019 and shared hundreds of tactical and finished intelligence pieces.

I&A continues to strengthen its intelligence partnerships across the nation by actively engaging with groups such as the NSA and MCSA and participating in their events.

Heading to RSA: NSA Brings Innovative Ideas to Cybersecurity Industry

February 12, 2020

Fort Meade, Md. – The breadth of talent and expertise across the private industry offers vast potential for collaboration. The RSA Conference–an annual security gathering hosting educational, professional, networking and awards programs–offers one of the largest opportunities for National Security Agency (NSA) to bolster partnerships and continue to build understanding of shared risk, increase ongoing cooperation and further expand opportunities, which is why the agency will be joining participants again this year.

Last year, during RSA Conference 2019, NSA released the highly praised open-source program Ghidra, which has since garnered over half a million downloads.

This year, RSA 2020 will be exploring the "Human Element," and NSA will be joining peers and leaders from across industry, academia and more to exchange the biggest, boldest ideas that can help propel the cybersecurity industry forward.

Some of the topics this year include:

  • Analytics Intelligence & Response
  • Anti-Fraud
  • Applied Crypto & Blockchain
  • Cloud Security & Virtualization
  • Cryptography
  • DevSecOps & Application Security
  • Hackers & Threats
  • Mobile & IoT Security
  • Open Source Tools
  • Policy & Government
  • Protecting Data & the Supply Chain Ecosystem
  • Risk Management & Governance

RSA Conference 2020 will be held Feb. 24-28, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. Tune into our social media for more information!

2020 Call for Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame Nominations

February 6, 2020

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is accepting nominations through March 20, 2020, for individuals to be considered for induction into the 2020 Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame.

The Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant and transformative contributions to NGA, one of the NGA heritage organizations or the GEOINT discipline.

NGA honors inductees each year; the next induction ceremony will be held Sept. 11, 2020. Nominees should be U.S. persons and/or allied partners who have made significant contributions to NGA, one of the NGA heritage organizations or the GEOINT discipline.

Selection Criteria

The contributions of those nominated should be clearly recognizable as having changed the direction and scope or increased the value of GEOINT for national decision makers, military commanders or other NGA customers and partners. Nominees must meet at least one of the following selection criteria to be eligible:

  • Demonstrated significant accomplishment at NGA or one of its heritage organizations
  • Demonstrated an accomplishment that transformed the GEOINT tradecraft or NGA operations
  • Demonstrated a legacy of leadership that exemplifies NGA traditions and core values
  • Performed a significant GEOINT contribution during a national security crisis
  • Contributed a technological or analytic innovation that provided greater geospatial understanding to the U.S. government
  • Made a significant personal sacrifice in the accomplishment of the NGA mission
  • Demonstrated significant support that greatly enhanced the NGA mission for individuals from other U.S. government entities, commercial vendors or foreign governments

Nomination Process

Hall of Fame nominations may be made by any current or former Department of Defense or Intelligence Community employee, member of the National System for Geospatial Intelligence, or member of the Allied System for GEOINT. All nominations will be considered by the Hall of Fame selection board.

The format for all nomination packages (template attached) shall be as follows:

  • Limited to six pages
  • Double-spaced, Arial 12-point font
  • Submitted to Hall_of_Fame@nga.mil

The package must include:

  • A one-page biographical essay providing general information about the nominee. If the nominee had federal service, please include name, title and grade/rank at the time of retirement; date of retirement from civilian or military service; current contact information; and elements served and location.
  • A second narrative (between three to five pages) identifying the selection criteria the nominee meets and detailing the significance of those contributions.
  • A brief description (no more than 100 words) of the nominee's accomplishments that will be used as the basis for an award citation should the nominee be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame.

All information in the package should be unclassified. If required, the submission of a supplemental classified narrative of no more than one double-spaced page in Arial 12-point font may be coordinated via Hall_of_Fame@coe.ic.gov.

The Geospatial Intelligence Hall of Fame selection board will review all nomination packages, evaluate the merits of each package in concert via open discussion and submit a slate of suggested nominees to the NGA director. The director will render a final decision, and an announcement of the selection(s) will be made. The annual induction ceremony on Sept. 11, 2020, will pay tribute to the individuals and their prestigious accomplishments to the GEOINT community.

For questions regarding the Hall of Fame, contact Hall_of_Fame@nga.mil or Hall_of_Fame@coe.ic.gov.

Spies Like AI: The Future of Artificial Intelligence for the U.S. Intelligence Community

January 30, 2020

America's intelligence collectors are already using AI in ways big and small, to scan the news for dangerous developments, send alerts to ships about rapidly changing conditions and speed up the NSA's regulatory compliance efforts. But before the Intelligence Community (IC) can use AI to its full potential, it must be hardened against attack. The humans who use it–analysts, policymakers and leaders–must better understand how advanced AI systems reach their conclusions.

Dean Souleles is working to put AI into practice at different points across the U.S. Intelligence Community, in line with the ODNI's year-old strategy. The chief technology advisor to the principal deputy to the director of national intelligence wasn't allowed to discuss everything that he's doing, but he could talk about a few examples.

Read the full article at Defense One.

DIA's Hiring Pool – What You Need to Know

January 30, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. — The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is committed to hiring exceptional talent for a variety of career opportunities that span the globe to help support our mission. To meet the hiring needs of the agency, DIA's Office of Human Resources maintains a group of pre-qualified and cleared individuals in something called a "hiring pool."

The DIA hiring pool brings new talent into our career fields. The majority of our hiring is for entry-level positions; however, the agency may post vacancies for mid- and senior-level positions as mission dictates. Upon review of an application, candidates may receive a formal invitation to a hiring event, where specific career field representatives may interview them.

After completion of a successful interview, the applicant may receive a conditional job offer and start the pre-employment process. This process, handled by the Central Processing Center and the Office of Security, requires candidates to complete a background check, drug test, mental health screening and a polygraph. The estimated completion timeline is approximately 12 months.

Once a decision is made regarding a candidate's clearance, an email will be sent from the hiring pool team detailing the next steps in the hiring process, as well as requesting an updated resume and transcripts.

When a candidate enters the hiring pool, their resume will be available in an online tool for maximum visibility into one or several career fields. If a billet is available, supervisors will evaluate all candidates and place a bid.

Career development officers review all bids and, once approved, candidates will receive a call from a human resource specialist within 14 business days to discuss the final job offer. Candidates deemed suitable for multiple positions may receive multiple job offers from the HR specialist. Once a candidate is paired with a position, the HR specialist will work to complete the official final job offer and select a start date.

When a candidate declines an offer, each career field has set conditions in rescinding a candidate's conditional job offer, which, in effect, removes the candidate from further consideration within the respective career field. Additionally, if a candidate remains in the hiring pool longer than two years, the Office of Security may require a review of their clearance adjudication.

For more information on DIA's hiring process, visit the Hiring Process page.

Intelligence Community Named Best Place to Work in Federal Government

January 29, 2020

Once again, the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has been ranked as a best place to work in the federal government by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service along with Boston Consulting Group.

For 2019, the IC is ranked third overall among 17 large government agencies. Among those agencies, the IC also ranked second in the following categories: Work-Life Balance; Support for Diversity; Innovation; Training and Development; Pay; Performance-Based Rewards and Advancement; Teamwork; and Effective Leadership.

The majority of the data used to develop the rankings, released in December 2019, was collected by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) through its Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which was completed by 615,395 federal workers for a response rate of 42.6 percent.

U.S. Cyber Command, NSA Poised to Support U.S. Election Security

January 28, 2020

With the Iowa caucuses just days away, the U.S. government is committed to protecting and defending the integrity of the nation’s democratic processes and elections.

That was the message from U.S. Cyber Command's Brig. Gen. William Hartman and NSA's David Imbordino, the co-leads of command and agency's joint Election Security Group, during a panel discussion Tuesday.

"We have a responsibility to do our part to ensure we understand how to secure our own democratic processes based on best info [intelligence] we can possibly produce," said Hartman, who leads USCYBERCOM's Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF), which plans and conducts cyber operations aimed at disrupting adversaries.

Both officials touted the partnering roles USCYBERCOM and NSA play to support the government's efforts to secure and defend U.S. elections during a panel at DreamPort–USCYBERCOM's unclassified innovation and collaboration center for public-private partners to work on cyber-related projects. The event was hosted by the University of Southern California's (USC) Election Cybersecurity Initiative and moderated by Dept. of Defense Press Secretary Alyssa Farah.

Both leaders reminded the audience that the first line of defense for democracy's security begins with each constituent.

"Events like today's occur because the private sector recognized this is an issue," said Imbordino, who highlighted the intrinsic value of public-private partnerships in this effort. "Public recognition is a huge first step."

Imbordino talked about how the NSA generates vital insights and shares them with partner agencies like DHS and FBI, which are lead agencies in the defense of U.S. elections.

Imbordino also explained that while the agency isn't often the face of engagement with the private sector, it does enable interagency partners that are. Each agency takes NSA's shared information to at-risk social media and other private companies, which enables all entities to combat malicious activities the adversaries may be undertaking.

Hartman noted USCYBERCOM's offensive posture was just as important as its ability to deliver effectively in response to the adversary's destructive activities. This includes "hunt forward" operations conducted by CNMF's highly skilled military members. Hunt forward missions are often directly informed by the information NSA collects as part of its foreign signals intelligence mission.

"We are able to work with partner nations and receive invites to execute operations in their countries," explained Hartman, who said that small units are deployed to broker access to networks the adversary has infiltrated. Vital insights gained from these missions greatly inform the USG's efforts to safeguard the nation's infrastructure.

At the end of the panel discussion, Hartman and Imbordino echoed in one voice that success in defending the 2020 elections depends in large part on the same interagency partnerships that successfully secured the 2018 elections.

"We are laser focused on any foreign adversaries trying to interfere with our election process," Hartman said.

This is the first of many forums USC's Election Cybersecurity Initiative plans to host around the country. The nonpartisan independent project aims to inform and protect campaigns and elections. Project officials plan to visit all 50 states before November 2020.

"Our goal is to take a complicated issue like election cybersecurity and translate it to better inform the people, candidates and campaigns about how to mitigate and defend against risks," said Justin Griffin, the managing director of USC's Election Cybersecurity Initiative. "Our candidate is democracy."

The Intelligence Community's Approach to Employee Engagement

January 21, 2020

Sherry Van Sloun, assistant director of national intelligence for human capital, discussed how the Intelligence Community is looking at their workers, and what they're doing to tap into all available talent.

Agencies in the Intelligence Community are scoring high on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. One of the top-ranked agencies this year was the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The ODNI workers reported good feedback on mission and enjoy their positions much more than in years prior. Van Sloun says there are a few key factors that determined their placement in the rankings.

Watch the television interview with Government Matters here.

DIA Director Talks Mission, National Security on Intelligence Matters Podcast

January 15, 2020

Washington D.C. — Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr. discussed DIA's mission and national security concerns on the Intelligence Matters podcast with host and former Acting Director of CIA Michael Morell on Jan. 8, 2020.

Intelligence Matters is a weekly podcast from CBS News Radio that features leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community as they reflect on their life, career and the critical roles they play in shaping national security policies.

Following his typical format, Morell began the interview by asking Ashley to talk about his career and standout moments.

"My tour in Iraq when I was a brigade commander," said Ashley. "What really weighs on you is the decisions that you make because their lives (the soldiers under his command) hang in the balance. Have you trained them properly? Have you equipped them properly? Have you made good, sound decisions?"

Ashley went on to say one of his most satisfying moments was that every soldier came home safely from that deployment.

Morell, whose listeners are more familiar with the roles and missions of CIA, asked Ashley if he could talk about the differences between the agencies.

"We (DIA) provide foundational intelligence and intel on the operational environment," he said. "The difference between, if you think about CIA over DIA, is kind of the customer base."

Ashley continued, "We have technical collection on the MASINT (measurement and signature intelligence) of the house, so there are some very discreet capabilities that are very unique in terms of how we help provide insights on what's happening on the battlefield. The core piece is the analytic piece. So, when people think about the DIA, they think about analysts."

Noting that DIA has released several unclassified reports on adversarial capabilities, Morell asked about the strategy and what happens when reports are released.

"We take (the report) up to the Hill, we provide it to members in OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense) and others, and it's an opportunity for them to have a means by which they can say, 'Here's the nature of what our adversaries have in their inventory and things you should be concerned about,'" said Ashley.

Morrell followed up, asking if this and other information make it into the hands of leaders.

"The information we see, our understanding of what is taking place, the members of the (Intelligence Community) are feeding that directly to the chairman, to the combatant command, to the secretary of defense," said Ashley. "From my vantage point as a senior member of the IC, we have unencumbered access to the senior leaders in the defense department and the ability to ensure that we are providing them everything we know and understand."

Noting an intensified situation in the Middle East, Morell asked about the strategic importance of American forces in Iraq.

"The ability to continue to have pressure on ISIS in Iraq, to have pressure on ISIS in Syria, is very important to the mission," Ashley stated. "It's critical if you're on the ground you have better access and better understanding to what they may be up to."

Ashley continued the national security conversation by discussing the unique threats from China and Russia, specifically concerning quantum computing and hypersonic weapons.

"Over the course of the next decade, I think you'll see a number of nations that will have those capabilities," he said. "The key thing for us is how do you understand it, how does it operate and then how do you defeat it? So, for us, it's understanding how the system works, making sure there's not a game-changing technology that shows up on the battlefield that we didn't see."

Morell wrapped up the conversation by asking if there was anything the public should know about the DIA workforce.

"I think the best way to say it is, we've got your back," he said, adding that the DIA workforce is "very agnostic about what they do. They have a passion for it … and they come in and they put their heads down and they row hard so that those 330 million Americans can pursue their hopes and dreams."

To listen to the full interview, visit Intelligence Matters on CBSnews.com.

Intelligence Community Named a "Best Place to Work" for the 11th Consecutive Year

January 10, 2020

Washington, D.C. – For the 11th consecutive year, Intelligence Community (IC) employee job satisfaction ranks the IC as one of the "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government."

The IC ranked third overall, up from fifth last year, among large agencies that employ more than 15,000 full-time permanent employees. Rankings were compiled by the Partnership for Public Service (PPS), which presented awards to agency leaders at a Washington, D.C., ceremony today. Andrew Hallman, principal executive for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, accepted the award on behalf of the IC.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire lauded members of the IC workforce for their consistent professionalism and hard work.

"I am extremely proud of, and impressed by, the intelligence professionals I get to lead. This award speaks to their dedication, determination and commitment to serving their country," Maguire said. "The Intelligence Community works to stay out of the news. Today we are happy to make an exception to highlight our unmatched mission and world-class workforce."

These rankings provide insight into how employees view their agency leaders and work environment. Scores are broken down into 14 individual categories–in such areas as effective leadership, innovation, work-life balance and support for diversity.

For 2019, the IC finished in the top two in 12 out of 14 categories, four more than 2018. This year, the IC improved across all 14 categories, with an average improvement of 2.6 percent.

PPS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to revitalize the federal government by transforming the way government works and inspiring a new generation to serve.

The institute conducts research and helps federal leaders solve difficult public policy issues. According to PPS, the Best Places to Work rankings are "the most comprehensive and authoritative rating of employee satisfaction and commitment in the federal government" and "are an important tool for ensuring that employee satisfaction is a top priority for government managers and leaders."

For more details, please visit http://bestplacestowork.org/.

Managing the Threat: TMU Standing By to Assist

January 9, 2020

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C. — The Threat Management Unit (TMU) is one of the many programs the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) police manage. The TMU's mission includes identifying and preventing acts of violence and criminality that could compromise the safety and security of Agency personnel, property and information.

"While we can't predict who will commit an act of violence against the agency or DIA employees, we can help deter action based on indicators of potential escalation," said Lt. Dustin Lang, TMU commander. "We can also ensure others know what to look for and what information to pass along to TMU members so that we can help."

The TMU offers threat mitigation strategies and risk-reduction plans to DIA and its partners. The scope of the TMU is to evaluate threats and indicators of self-harm or harm to others. The team also analyzes suspicious phone calls, emails, social media messages and mail items that arrive at DIA facilities or are received by the workforce.

Lang explained that items are often discarded or disregarded by receiving offices. However, the TMU's guidance is to pass questionable materials to the police.

"If anyone gets an email or physical item (that seems suspicious), we want to see it," he said. "We want to make sure that nothing slips through the cracks and that we have all the necessary information and time to take appropriate action."

What are suspicious items that TMU would want to see?

According to the "Contemporary Threat Management: A Practical Guide for Identifying, Assessing, and Managing Individuals of Violent Intent," the list includes direct or conditional threats, delusional or paranoid correspondence, obsessive or overly emphatic messages, or anything that is disjointed, bizarre or unreasonable.

If a DIA employee is uncertain whether something they’ve received–digitally or physically–is suspicious, the nationwide Suspicous Activity Reporting document document has details to help determine if it should be reported.

The TMU is also responsible for conducting criminal background screenings of contract employees affiliated with agency renovations and contruction projects.

"This process helps to ensure only the most trusted people will be working in or around DIA facilities," said DIA Deputy Chief of Police John Richter. "The TMU (also) serves as a DIA liaison between local, state and federal law enforcement authorities. The information shared among these professionals provides officers with the latest threats that they may encounter while protecting the agency. These threats could range from an individual with a warrant to the latest in weapons concealment and media storage technology."

Members of DIA's TMU must successfully complete the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Uniformed Police Training Program and Intelligence Analysis Training Program, as well as non-FLETC courses in protective intelligence and criminal analysis. Members also attend threat briefings and case studies, or after-action reports (AARs), conducted by local, state and other federal law enforcement entities.

"Typically, the AARs follow larger, high-profile events, like mass shootings or other events involving acts of mass violence," said Lang. "It's important that we attend these sessions to learn and hear from the scene commander, special operators, case agents, victims and survivors. There's a lot of experience and knowledge to be shared at those AARs."

The TMU has had numerous successful cases since its inception in 2012. Lang explained one incident: "There was a program office that received a threatening email. The message read, 'I'm across the street from an embassy. Death to all intelligence officers.' And there were attached photos, mostly of a silhouette target with tight-shot groups, but also a few of the embassy that appeared to have been taken from the roof of a neighboring building."

Once the officer notified the TMU, the team worked with the Chief Information Office to conduct a detailed analysis of available databases to track down the email sender's IP address and used the metadata to determine the sender's identity. Geolocation data from the photos were used to determine where they were taken, confirming the sender's assertions that they were in close proximity to an embassy.

It was determined that the sender was in another country. The investigating officer contacted TMU partners at Interpol. Due to the TMU's efforts, and with the assistance of Interpol agents, the suspect was apprehended within 24 hours. As this became an international investigation of a U.S. citizen who committed a crime in another country, the TMU referred the investigation and follow-up adjudicative processes to the Department of State. Lang reported that the sender has not contacted DIA in any form since the arrest.

"We are here to keep our people and property safe, but we need DIA's help," said Lang. "The more we know, the more we're able to prevent and deter threats to DIA and its employees."