IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century

Staff Study
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House of Representatives
One Hundred Fourth Congress

VI.IMINT: Imagery Intelligence

                        Executive Summary

     Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) will be a mainstay of the
Intelligence Community (IC) in the 21st century.   The IMINT
community (IMC) today is made up of a diverse set of users
including military, national, and civilian.  We anticipate that the
numbers and types of imagery users will continue to grow
dramatically in the future, perhaps into other areas not yet
imagined.  Thus, it is extremely important that our imagery system
be flexible to support these changing needs.  

     Exploitation will be the chokepoint for the imagery community. 
Given present trends, the number of images collected will continue
to outpace our ability to analyze them.  Collection costs continue
to rise at the expense of processing and exploitation.  Imagery
analysts are working with archaic tools and the current acquisition
process does not facilitate the timely infusion of new technology. 
This is due in part to the fragmentation of the imagery community,
with infrastructure and research and development being pursued by
numerous organizations with little to no coordination.   Commercial
imagery needs to be considered as an adjunct to national systems
and plans must be put in place to facilitate its use.   The IC
continues to move to a dichotomy in imagery requirements:  users
want images in near-real-time yet also want detailed analysis.  
The imagery community has not yet reconciled how to satisfy these
conflicting requirements concurrently.   Imagery dissemination to
the military below the Joint Task Force level still remains an
issue and, finally, foreign denial and deception activities
continue to be a problem and must be taken into account in future
     IMINT will see a great transformation in the next century. 
Commercial systems will allow everyone, including our foes, to have
access to high resolution imagery.   At the same time,
classification of national imagery must provide the required access
to allies while continuing to protect collection/processing
capabilities.  More cost effective collection systems are required
to free up funding to support the "downstream" activities of
processing and exploitation.  The explosion of available imagery
requires that new technologies and exploitation/production tools
such as automated/assisted target recognition algorithms and
digital softcopy search tools must be aggressively developed to
help streamline the exploitation process.   The IC must move to
all-digital exploitation of imagery, with access to cross-INT
databases, while progressing to a "virtual" analytic environment,
and funding must be increased to accelerate the procurement of
softcopy (digital) workstations for imagery analysts.  Support for
the National Technology Alliance should be increased to provide
more flexibility in rapidly fielding new technologies and
exploiting commercially available technologies.  Finally, increased
emphasis should be placed on spectroradiometric collection,
processing and exploitation.   

     Thus, there is much in store for the IMC; however, it will not
come for free.  Funding must be increased to set up the central
infrastructure needed to support the diversity of analysts, to
bring those analysts the tools they need to help alleviate the
exploitation chokepoint, and to increase and focus the R&D efforts
to bring new technology to bear in a more rapid manner.  Collection
costs must be reduced so next generation systems and exploitation
advances can occur.  If these things do not occur, the IMC will not
be able to satisfy 21st century requirements. 

                    IMINT:  Imagery Intelligence


     Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) will be a mainstay of the
Intelligence Community (IC) in the 21st century.   The IMINT
community (IMC) today is made up of a diverse set of users
including military, national, and civilian.  We anticipate that the
numbers and types of imagery users will continue to grow
dramatically in the future, perhaps into other areas not yet
imagined.  Thus, it is extremely important that our imagery system
be flexible to support these changing needs.  

     The needs of the military will continue to expand, as their
mission spreads into new, uncharted areas.  Across all levels
(strategic, theater, and tactical) we will see this new scope, in
areas such as coalition operations; highly mobile, detached
operations; enhanced C4I (Command, Control, Communications,
Computers and Intelligence); and peacekeeping and humanitarian
operations, along with further "operations other than war."  These
increased areas of responsibility bring with them a greater need
for imagery support.  Advanced, precision guided munitions will
also demand a new level of sustained, highly accurate, imagery

     Civilian and national imagery requirements will also continue
to grow.  We have already seen the use of national imagery spread
into environmental monitoring and evaluation and aid in disaster
relief, both national and international.  Nevertheless, this
particular intelligence source will be of primary importance for
support to law enforcement, counternarcotics and counterterrorism,
monitoring treaties and weapons proliferation, and strategic and
economic intelligence.  Again, though, there may be areas of
intense, future civilian use that go unseen today, because the
future availability of commercial imagery and the recent push to
downgrade national imagery will potentially bring out new and
different users who did not previously have access to this type of
data.   Consequently, our future systems must be easily adaptable
in order to meet these vastly different requirements. 

          FINDING:  IMINT will continue to be an important
          collection discipline for a wide variety of issues: 
          indications and warning; support to the military; and
          monitoring arms control agreements, refugee flows,
          narcotics cultivation and ecological problems.

     The IMC faces several challenges and must adapt in order to
maintain the level of support provided to, and expected by, today's
customers in a future, changing environment.  These challenges
arise in almost every functional area: organization, requirements
management, collection, tasking, processing, exploitation, and
dissemination.  Other issues include classification levels, denial
and deception, and interaction with commercial systems.  Each of
these areas will be addressed separately in this study.  

     IMINT will see a great transformation in the next century. 
Commercial systems will allow everyone, including our foes, to have
access to high resolution imagery.   At the same time,
classification of national imagery must provide the required access
to allies while continuing to protect collection/processing
capabilities.   The number of users and requirements will grow. 
Exploitation will be the chokepoint in the imagery process.  The
explosion of available imagery will overwhelm the imagery analyst
unless automated/assisted target recognition algorithms or other
exploitation/production tools can be developed.  Spectroradiometric
collection will become more important, with major impacts on the
collection, processing, dissemination and exploitation arenas.  

     Thus, there is much in store for the IMC; however, it will not
come for free.  Funding must be increased to set up the central
infrastructure needed to support the diversity of analysts, to
bring those analysts the tools they need to help alleviate the
exploitation chokepoint, and to increase and focus the R&D efforts
to bring new technology to bear in a more rapid manner.  Collection
costs must be reduced so next generation systems and exploitation
advances can occur.  If these things do not occur, the IMC will not
be able to satisfy 21st century requirements. 


     Much attention has been paid to the IMC's organization in
recent months.  However, great care must be taken not to break
those parts that work well in an attempt to fix other perceived
problems.   It is obvious that the current Central Imagery Office
(CIO) does not have the authority it needs to oversee a diverse
imagery community.  Yet, before we rush into a new organizational
structure, we must ensure that this new organization, while solving
immediate problems, will be flexible enough to cope with the next
century's "virtual" intelligence environment.  

          FINDING:  CIO does not have the required authority to
          oversee and effectively manage the imagery community. 

     We are most concerned about a lack of CIO's authority to
oversee an imagery strategic plan.  Current imagery organizations
are not tied together nor beholden to such a strategic plan.  This
results in disparate, uncoordinated allocation of funds and
resources in collection, R&D, and exploitation and dissemination
infrastructure.   Dissemination within theater is another area that
needs drastic improvement.  Those areas that work well, though, are
mainly within the exploitation community.  Exploitation support to
the policymakers is excellent.  Support to the military is also
very good in the areas of strategic indications and warning, and
contingency planning.  However, providing adequate imagery support
to on-going operations is still a challenge, and will only be more
difficult in the future.   Thus, it is important for any new
organization to look at this picture and show how deficiencies will
be improved while maintaining the strengths of the previous
organizations; at the same time, this new organization must be
considered within the wider context of the IC. 

          FINDING:  The imagery community is badly fragmented. 
          Infrastructure and R&D are being pursued by numerous
          organizations with little or no coordination.  However,
          any restructuring should be considered only within the
          wider context of all other intelligence functions and

     Some have suggested that a new organization be fashioned after
the Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) model.  Though it appears to be
a convenient organizational structure, we do not believe this will
solve the IMC's problems because the analogy of the National
Security Agency (NSA) is not directly applicable to imagery due to
major technological and operational differences in the two
disciplines.   We are also concerned that a major monolithic agency
will be LESS responsive rather than more responsive to the
customer.  Finally, the risk that future imagery systems will be
driven solely by technology rather than users' needs increases
under these proposals (though this danger does exist with today's
organizations).  Some also claim that another major raison d'etre
for this new organization is to solve the dissemination problems of
DESERT STORM.  We overwhelmingly agree that dissemination is a
problem; however, it is hard to comprehend how an organization that
has no control over theater/Joint Task Force (JTF)/Joint
Intelligence Center (JIC) level forces and lower echelons will be
able to solve this problem.  Thus, we must again gravitate to the
real problems within the IMC and focus on an organization that will
be able to provide solutions to these problems. 

     The main problem areas we see with the current structure are
imagery program management/planning, research and development
(R&D), collection, processing, dissemination, and standards.  A
single, strong policy arm is needed for coherent end-to-end
planning.  Several key functions should be centralized:  standards,
protocols, and communications interfaces.  A strong R&D oversight
structure must be included to ensure that new technologies are
responsive to customer requirements and that R&D funds are spent
efficiently, according to an overall plan instead of each
organization funding bits and pieces as is done today.  The IC21
Intelligence Community Management staff study presents an IC that
will solve these deficiencies through the needed centralization of
certain functions while preserving those areas that work well.  

     We believe the exploitation community is one of those areas. 
This is an area where IMINT differs greatly from SIGINT.  In the
SIGINT arena, a signal is collected and analyzed by NSA, producing
information which is then distributed to a variety of customers and
agencies.  IMINT, on the other hand, produces an image which is
then sent to a variety of organizations and exploited in many
diverse ways within those organizations.  Hence, imagery exploiters
are, in many ways, discrete customers/users of the imagery in and
of themselves and, thus, the SIGINT analogy is really not
applicable in this case. 

     Keeping imagery analysts close to their customers will become
increasingly important but too great a dispersion of capabilities
may lead to an erosion of imagery analysis expertise.  Thus, a
balance must be struck between decentralization and centralization
of imagery analysis capability.   Another balance that must be
struck is the level of segregation between military analysts,
analysts who support national and civilian customers, and
cartographers.   Recent recommendations have been to combine these
forces into one exploitation cadre.  Again, we go back to our
argument that the different exploitation elements should be treated
as discrete customers.  There is danger in too much centralization
because of the diverse sets of skills these analysts bring to the
table.  We fear that combining these personnel into one homogenous
unit will dilute these skills into one set of "accepted" skills,
which will not completely satisfy any customer's requirements.  In
order to preserve the diverse set of analytical skills we have
today, we recommend keeping the disparate imagery analysts with
their originating parent organizations, while centralizing the
infrastructure that supports them; however, we also recommend
better integration of the imagery analysts into those organizations
for better support to the "all-source" analysts.

          RECOMMENDATION:  As noted in the Intelligence Community
          Management staff study, second and third-tier analysts
          from all INTs should be co-located with true "all-source"
          analysts in the CIA and DIA.

     We must look to the future, not the past, for a new
organizational model.  Legacy stovepipe organizations are a product
of the past and will not provide the needed flexibility required to
support a "virtual" intelligence community in the future.   Our
model of IMINT in the 21st century is based on centralization of
vital functions (end-to-end planning/management, R&D, collection,
processing, archiving, and infrastructure) while sustaining a
diverse customer/exploitation base.  Needs of the users must drive
the organization and those users' needs are met mainly by imagery
derived information and products prepared by professional imagery
analysts, not the raw image. These decentralized production
strengths equate to increased responsiveness to local
needs/missions and the ability to tailor and/or focus efforts
quickly to respond to changing priorities.  This flexibility in
exploitation, combined with consolidation of programmatic and
tasking oversight, and a standards based infrastructure, will truly
allow the IMC to be responsive in the 21st century. 


     Requirements on a grander scale and collection synergy are
discussed in separate IC21 studies.  However,  in the context of
imagery, requirements and collection management must be discussed. 
The new Requirements Management System (RMS) for imagery  is due to
reach initial operating capability (IOC) in June 1996 (eighteen
months behind schedule).   It is unclear at this time whether RMS
will be able to perform comparably to its predecessor, CAMS
(COMIREX Automated Management System).  In all fairness, the RMS
goal was admirable:  to allow the user to follow his imagery
request and know exactly where it was in the requirements process. 
 However, it is a possibility that RMS will never be able to
achieve full operating capability.  This is a great example of
spending large sums of money on a stovepipe system.  Of course, it
was expected that this system would be up and running by now, and
that we would be on our way to designing the collection management
tool of the future.   Since this is not to be, in the near-term, we
must ensure that RMS will provide equivalent capability before we
allow CAMS to be shut down.  (Both systems cannot run
simultaneously.)  In the event RMS cannot meet expected performance
levels, CAMS must be retained until the next generation system is

     For that next generation system, we envision an integrated
requirements process where all types of intelligence collection are
tasked (e.g., SIGINT, IMINT,  MASINT, etc.)  Ideally, this
translates into one requirements tasking system.  The military's
Joint Collection Management Tool, which was supposed to interface
with RMS, is a small step in the right direction and provides only
one interface to the process.  However, this is not absolutely
necessary.  What is required, though, is consolidated resource
planning.   We must be able to do cross-platform, cross-sensor
tasking, with dynamic and flexible planning, scheduling, and
management.   Managing which users get to steer which collection
assets will be difficult.  Rapid exploitation feedback will allow
more optimized planning and scheduling.  This all-source
requirements system must be compatible with theater/tactical assets
and should look to meet the goals set out by RMS, mainly that the
customer would know the status of his request, for all -INTS,
throughout the entire process.  This is discussed in much further
detail in the other staff studies mentioned above.  

     Validation of imagery requirements also needs an overhaul.  
The current Community Imagery Needs Forecast (CINF) does not
currently include all requirements.  It also appears that
requirements are based upon what collection systems are/will be
available instead of what information is required.  It appears that
the "Seal of Approval" process does not address cost effectiveness
or ability to fulfill requirements. 

          FINDING:  the CINF is incomplete and appears to reflect
          only what can be collected versus what needs to be

     We need a requirements system that is immune to special
interests.  We propose a central requirements organization that
would look across all -INTs to determine the most cost-effective
and capable way to collect the required information.  We need an
organization that looks to the future to determine which
technologies require increased investments today.  We would like to
see the IC study and react instead of study and report.  There must
be thorough understanding of the problem before the IC jumps to
solutions.  But this should take months, not years.   

          RECOMMENDATION:  As noted in the Intelligence Community
          Management staff study, a Community Management Staff with
          IC-wide authority over requirements, resources and
          collection would improve the role of all collection
          disciplines.  This would also abet a more integrated
          requirements and tasking system for IMINT, which has yet
          to be attained.


          FINDING:  Collection costs continue to rise at the
          expense of processing and exploitation.

     Only one solution has been offered so far that shows major
promise in reducing costs while maintaining capabilities:  small
satellites (smallsats) acquired through streamlined acquisition
practices.   A distributed architecture made of smaller, single
function satellites, will provide the flexibility and
responsiveness required for the customers of the next century.  
Technology is now available that would allow the IC to shrink its
satellite size, thus reducing costs, both for the satellite and the
launch vehicle, but also from an organization infrastructure point
of view.   Also, by using streamlined acquisition,  this approach
allows new technology to get on-orbit more quickly.   Multispectral
sensing satellites can be added to supplement this architecture. 
Best commercial practices must be incorporated.  

          RECOMMENDATION:  Move to an architecture of small
          satellites (smallsats) to increase capability,
          flexibility and revisit while reducing costs. 

     Smallsats have also been proposed for point targets that need
high resolution collection.  These Narrow Field of View (NFOV)
satellites, while more complex than the Wide Field of View (WFOV),
offer an exciting opportunity to maintain capability but at much
reduced cost.  Unfortunately, because many people believe smallsats
are only capable of fulfilling narrow, niche missions, these types
of satellites will never be considered seriously until this
technology is proven on-orbit.  (It appears that it is more widely
accepted that the WFOV mission can be done than the NFOV mission). 
Therefore, we must build and fly a NFOV small imager to convince
the skeptics that we do not need to spend billions per satellite to
have equivalent capability.  Thus, we must act now.  As stated
earlier,  smallsats will not be considered as a viable alternative
unless there is an on-orbit demonstration showing their worth.  It
is imperative that the small NFOV satellite be built as quickly as
possible in order for this technology to be a serious contender. 

          RECOMMENDATION:  Proceed quickly with a small satellite
          demonstration in order to ensure this option is
          considered as a viable alternative for the next
          generation of imagery satellites.

     Another idea that should be reviewed, especially if the cost
per satellite can be contained, is to reverse the trend of
increasing Mean Mission Duration (MMD) and build satellites that
will last only three to four years.  Costs would be further
reduced, both per launch vehicle and satellite, because larger
block buys of both systems would allow a cheaper unit price. 
Limiting the lifetime of satellites would also allow advanced
technology to be incorporated more quickly and missions to be
altered to adapt to new situations because satellites would be
replaced at a relatively fast pace.  Industrial base concerns would
be alleviated and launch crews would always be current on their
procedures.  The recent push to increase MMD seems to be a survival
tactic to counter the large growth in satellite cost; because the
IC's satellites have grown so expensive, we can buy only a few,
spaced out over several years.  Thus, these satellites must last
longer so the IC can stretch out its costly acquisitions.   This
approach should be given closer scrutiny. 

          FINDING:  "Denial and deception" activities by foreign
          governments are a current problem.   As U.S. imagery
          capabilities become more widely known, this problem will
          likely grow. 

     Along these lines, the exploiters should be viewed as
customers and as such should have input in deliberating the value
of new systems because they are the ones who must use the product. 
They should have direct involvement in utility studies of new types
of systems, which is not the currently the case.  Today, the
National Exploitation Lab (NEL) is only involved in these types of
studies when asked to participate.  They, along with all other
primary users, should have the authority to demand involvement with
the evaluation of any new imagery system.

     The same "clean sheet" argument can be made for the command
and control and ground processing segments for imagery.  New
commercial satellite architectures will be required to control on
the order of hundreds of satellites.  Can we leverage off of the
work they are doing?  New processing advancements are being made in
the commercial sector that should be incorporated quickly.  This
appears to be only one of many examples where contractors have
conveniently made themselves indispensable, at the expense of the
          FINDING:  The current imagery ground architecture is very
          complicated and expensive.
     Commercial companies are developing ground stations at much
less cost.   It gets back to the principle of deleting unnecessary
layers and overlapping influences, wiping the slate clean and
starting over.  The IMC should look at using the "clean sheet"
approach for its ground functions.  It is especially important that
this method be implemented now while the "lessons learned"
expertise still resides within the NRO.  Thus, they would have the
advantage of quickly infusing new technology and simplifying
operations while ensuring that mistakes of the past are not

          RECOMMENDATION:  Redesign the ground architecture from a
          clean sheet of paper in order to take better advantage of
          commercial capabilities and reduce ground station

     The NRO needs to return to streamlined program offices with
smart people doing the work, thus reducing the need to rely on
numerous SETA and support contractors.  This, too, will reduce the
costs required to procure satellites. 

     On the airborne side, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and
airborne collection will continue to be important assets to support
the theater and tactical commander.  However, their collection
capability is limited to only those areas where they can fly with
impunity.  However, for all airborne collection that remains, the
imagery must be collected digitally in order to ensure its
compatibility with future imagery databases and exploitation
workstations.  The tasking of these systems should be integrated
with the tasking of overhead systems in order to maximize
efficiency and delete duplication of collection. 

Exploitation/Information Processing

     Exploitation will be the chokepoint in the imagery process of
the future.  The amount of imagery collected will be increased
greatly at a time when the number of imagery analysts will have
been reduced.  How to interpret new types of imagery like
multispectral collection will have to be learned at a time when it
will be impossible to pull analysts off-line, unless the hiring
trend for analysts is reversed.  Softcopy workstations are a
critical need and purchases for all imagery analysts should be
accelerated.  These workstations should be compatible or able to be
upgraded to work with all types of intelligence and their
associated databases.  R&D for a softcopy search tool should be a
number one priority.   Either the number of analysts must be
greatly increased or technology must be developed to make both the
analyst workforce more efficient and to take away some of the
exploitation preparation workload.   We would venture that both
must occur:  the number of analysts must be increased and the
technology must be developed, both in the forms of better
workstations and better tools.  R&D dollars must be consolidated in
order to better serve the imagery community; however, each
organization must have control over some amount of funding in order
to preserve specialized tools.  

          FINDING:  Given present trends, the number of images
          collected will continue to outpace our ability to analyze

          FINDING:  Imagery analysts are working with archaic
          tools; the current acquisition process does not
          facilitate the timely infusion of new technology.

     The number of analysts needs to increase now.  Also, we are
facing a severe deficit down the road because of a reduction in the
number of imagery analysts.  The longer we wait to begin rehiring,
the greater the danger we will face a gap in knowledgeable imagery
exploitation.   Fifty percent of DIA's imagery workforce will be
eligible to retire within the next five years.  This is a problem
that cannot be ignored because it takes several years to train an
imagery analyst to be self-sufficient. 

      Another problem that has occurred because of downsizing is
the "in-box" mentality.  This is not just a problem within the IMC
but is occurring everywhere within the IC.  Analysts are too busy
dealing with the crises of today to have the time to think
creatively and look long range.  DIA, in the past, apportioned part
of their personnel to look at long-term issues but they no longer
have this capability.  History shows that there will be problems
that may take interdisciplinary teams years to solve.  With the
current emphasis on immediate information, there is a danger that
refined, thoroughly analyzed intelligence will become a thing of
the past.  We must balance real-time information needs while
protecting long-term research.  

     Another issue is the availability of analysts for the testing
of new tools, products, etc.  It is currently very difficult to
pull analysts off-line for this purpose because there is no margin
left in the number of analysts doing the day-to-day work.  All of
these problems hinge on the number of available analysts.  Hence,
we must act quickly to increase the number of imagery analysts,
both national and military.  The optimum number of analysts will
depend greatly on the exact mission the IMC is asked to perform and
on how well we apply technology to streamlining the exploitation
process for those analysts.  Regardless, the number we have today
is inadequate and, due to the long timelines of training, hiring of
new imagery analysts should commence at once. 

     Future imagery analysts will face even harder tasks.  They
will be required to look at and evaluate diverse types of imagery
and use more sophisticated tools.  They will also work daily with
a paradox:   producing thoroughly analyzed, contextually based
products while meeting demanding timeliness requirements of less
than 24 hours (in some cases, 12 hours).  This is an impossible
task in today's environment, yet will become increasingly more
important in the future as other countries gain access to similar
imagery.  Strategic advantage will become a matter of whose
collection, exploitation and dissemination timelines are the
shortest.  Intelligence must be there swiftly so as to be relevant
to decreasing planning and execution timelines, and packaged in
such a way that can be consumed by the user.  The lower echelons of
the military present the real crux of the problem:  extremely short
timelines must be met yet great detail is still required.  This
would appear to be a push toward automated exploitation; this
however, implies that the time-dominant reporting will not have
analyst derived information and will merely report what, where and
when, not who, from where and why.  In some instances, this may be
all that is required but it is our belief that a human will always
be needed, at least during the timeframe dictated for this study,
to provide the cognitive processes of exploitation.   Nevertheless,
R&D should be increased and focused on providing these analysts the
new tools and efficient processing capability required to help them
come closer to meeting these demanding timelines.  

          FINDING:  The imagery community is not currently able to
          satisfy the requirements for both immediate and detailed

     These new tools will encompass a broad range of capabilities. 
In the interim, the emphasis should be on providing tools that will
greatly speed up the analysts' ability to access and integrate
information.   Analysts need softcopy workstations that allow for
timely retrieval of current and archived imagery with no
degradation in quality.  Softcopy exploitation will result in
significant efficiencies.  It will streamline the dissemination,
storage and retrieval of imagery and will enhance the ability of
analysts to exploit the full range of available data.  It will
facilitate the integration of classified, commercial and theater
imagery, and will allow analysts to quickly acquire the "best"
images of a target (assuming required selection algorithms are
developed).  The ability to perform mensuration from imagery
obtained from multiple sensors at a single workstation will be a
significant enhancement.      

          RECOMMENDATION:  The IC should move aggressively to
          infuse new technologies into the IMC, such as automatic
          target recognition capabilities, in order to help
          streamline the exploitation process.

     Softcopy search of large land areas is a critical necessity
yet this tool remains extremely difficult to implement.  Hence,
currently, it must still be done on a light table.   Softcopy
search tools must be developed to enable efficient search of large
amounts of data.  Sufficient funding in R&D in this area must be

     For the future, the best knowledge-based tools should be made
available:  on-line access to integrated databases from the
analysts' desktops; numerous data sources available on-line (maps
and intell reporting) at different security levels; simplified
product lines in a limited number of formats; and the ability to
receive requests on-line and distribute responses that way.  A
major investment is required to allow analysts to query, browse and
exploit from large, digital image product libraries which use
supercomputing and massive data storage technology.  Providing this
kind of access could greatly increase the amount of time an analyst
spends on analysis.  Direct interface of imagery with global
geospatial information based on a standard coordinate system is
required.  Automated image examination technology must be pursued. 
Softcopy exploitation will be the norm; yet softcopy search will
require high-speed computing, data storage and management
capabilities in the gigaflop range of speed.  Tools are needed to
accomplish tonal dynamic range manipulation and sharpening,
geometric processing for warping or imagery perspective
manipulation, and registering images to maps.  Data compression,
management and display technologies are needed simultaneously. 
Adaptive image compression schemes will be needed to allow imagery
analysts to quickly assimilate information without waiting for the
full-resolution image.  Greater screen brightness and higher
resolution are needed for search.  Flat screens with great
resolution are needed for tactical situations.  Three-dimensional
technology will be important (e.g., autostereoscopic, holographic,
and lenticular) but screen displays will be needed that do not
require special viewing goggles.   As imagery analysts search,
locate, ID and analyze pertinent imagery, the results will be
documented in real-time upon a registered, geographic, information-
based, vectored layer.   Analytic and presentation aids such as map
overlays, terrain displays and 3-D perspectives will be routine.  
We must capitalize on commonalities among digital imagery and
mapping technologies.  Superimposition techniques on up-to-date
baseline images, maps, and graphics will be able to show changes in
force and target dispositions.  Such symbolic information overlaid
on baseline displays could provide tactical users readily
accessible information in a format required for his command and
control function.  Hardcopy to softcopy conversion must also be a
priority due to the vast quantities of historical documents
containing text, graphics and pictures that are stored in paper and
film form.  Conversion technologies are needed that provide basic
indices automatically, preserve formats, and permit full text

     One area that remains quite controversial is automated target
recognition (ATR) systems.  There are many analysts who view ATR
systems as direct competition with their jobs.  Then, there are
others who doubt whether these systems will ever be able to replace
the imagery analyst.  We have taken a moderate approach to ATR.  As
stated earlier, we believe that a human will be required in the
loop, at least for the next 10-15 years.  At that time, it may be
possible that technology will have advanced far enough to allow
cognitive aspects (i.e., assessing meaning, separating significant
from irrelevant data, integrating all available data to form
analytical context, making sense of imagery-derived data in the
current situation, and judging the significance of the findings) of
the exploitation process to be performed by computers.  In the
interim, we need technology to help analysts be more efficient, not
to replace them.  Thus, because ATR and artificial intelligence
(AI) are a long way from performing these cognitive functions, we
recommend increased attention to assisted target recognition (ASTR)
systems while continuing low level exploration of ATR systems.  R&D
must be focused and pursued diligently in these areas for both
imaging and spectroradiometric sensing, as ASTR/ATR offer the only
major advancement in imagery analysis productivity on the horizon. 

     ASTR/ATR have the potential to help resolve one of the IMC's
biggest problems.  In recent years, imagery analysts have been
forced to be selective in the imagery they exploit.  With the
amount of imagery collected increasingly greatly in the near
future, this priority-based exploitation will be the norm.  The
remainder of the imagery will be "binned" into libraries for ready
access, if needed at a later date.   If no one looks at this
imagery at all, nothing will be found.  Thus, if assisted "alerting
mechanisms" can be developed with low enough false alarm rates to
search this excess imagery, then the efficiency of our human
analysts is greatly enhanced.  There are algorithms of significant
value available today that could be used as alert mechanisms.   For
the future, reliable, totally automated aids to help filter large
volumes of data and accurately cue imagery analysts to likely
points of intelligence interest will be essential.  We should look
to architect a system where tasks are efficiently divided between
people and machines, parceling out to each the jobs that they do
best.  Some tasks for computers might be to screen non-literal
imagery so an imagery analyst does not have to look at it (as
mentioned above).  Total automation will depend on what kind of
false alarm rate can be tolerated.  This will depend on the mission
to be supported.  Hence, algorithms need to be very specific to the
job.  We should take the ATR problem and break it up into bins,
depending on the problem we are trying to solve.  Then we should
consolidate the bins and ask ourselves what the value is of doing
this automatically.  An assessment of that value should be traded
against the cost.  Computers are persistent but not very cognitive. 
They can be very good at search, can find bright spots, can look at
certain parts of the spectrum, etc.  On the other hand, because
computers are much better at certain jobs than are people, in the
near-term, we should concentrate on those areas where computers
outperform humans and perhaps aim for 50-70 percent automation over
the next 10 years.  For other processes, we should proceed at a
much slower rate and aim for 10-20 percent automation.   Early
success in automated aids are more likely to occur in filtering
large volumes of imagery data to the analysts.  High performance
image screening and semi-automatic image region cueing also show
promise.   For the future, ATR needs to move to context-based
recognition, not just for single objects for single vehicles, but
for units in the field and activity types within fixed facilities. 
We also need to look at automating exploitation of moving target
indicator imagery.  If ATR algorithms can be developed that provide
a very high level of confidence, then perhaps this processing can
be transferred to the collector to allow screening before the data
is downlinked.   Some enabling technologies that should be
investigated include domain mediators (which will help to quickly
modify ATR algorithms to different but similar targets) and
knowledge engineering tools (automating identification cues,
context cues).

          RECOMMENDATION:  Aggressively pursue ASTR/ATR algorithm
          development, concentrating in the near-term on those
          areas where computers outperform humans. 

     Technology integration for exploitation has not progressed
further or more rapidly in the IMC primarily because there exists
no single focal point within the imagery community with sufficient
influence to foster change.  Funding constraints have forced the
IMC to focus on procuring only a small part of the full array of
needed technologies.  No exploitation R&D roadmap exists and
different programs seek different technological solutions to
similar needs in dissemination, exploitation databases and
softcopy.  Establishing a funding line specifically for
exploitation system development and supporting R&D would assist
greatly in addressing exploitation shortfalls.  Requiring that such
a funding line be tied to each new collection system would ensure
adequate "downstream" resources are addressed.   Required critical
technologies that surfaced during interviews include softcopy
exploitation, automated or assisted exploitation, spectral
phenomenology, imagery training, multimedia reporting and
information infrastructure, surge retrieval visualization and
synthesis schools, automated downgrading declassification, and
hardcopy-to-softcopy conversion.   Exploitation systems must evolve
to acquisition timelines of months not years to keep pace with
technology changes.  For acquisition, we have to accept a 90 or 95
percent solution and not hold out for 100 percent if a commercial
capability is available.  Recapitalization is another area of
concern.  What is the optimum recapitalization timeline when what
you take off the shelf is obsolete in a year?   Other areas that
need to be pursued include efficient means of data entry (like
transferring reports to INTELINK) and the capability to precisely
align or "fuse" two or more images of the same target but which
have been collected from different attitudes, sensors and/or
platforms.   Newer imagery types (such as multispectral sensing)
are harder in terms of their type and the tasks that have to be
done for exploitation.   A large amount of technology is being
pursued piecemeal in this area but there has been no real high
priority given to go perform missions in these areas.  In the R&D
community, we spend an inordinate amount of funds and time
constructing databases for testing algorithms.   We need a
Community, common, controlled test data set and Community standards
on metrics so new algorithms can be measured against each other
from a common baseline.   This would allow for a quick and smooth
transition to the analysts' work environment. 

     The analysts' workstations must be flexible and user friendly. 
Connectivity via email, at a minimum, with the ability to work on
a common white board via personal videoteleconferencing at the
individual workstations as a goal, must be implemented among all
imagery analysts, both national and military.  The IMC should
define the standards for imagery exploitation, yet allow
decentralized execution.  Thus, while the all-source imagery
analyst of the future will need more inherent analytic capability
than is required today, perhaps the tactical imagery analysts will
not if they can correspond real-time with other analysts in a
coherent manner.  In essence, we must strive toward the "virtual"
imagery community.  (We would also venture that all analysts, not
just imagery analysts, have access to this connectivity, thereby
creating a "virtual" IC.)   Accordingly, analysts must have user-
selectable and filterable theater/national SIGINT-IMINT-HUMINT
cross-database query, cueing, and collection request capabilities
to facilitate the targeting process and other near-real-time (NRT)
requirements.  From an IMINT perspective, central digital imagery
libraries will be needed and an inventory of available theater
imagery should also be accessible on-line.  A  network of
accessible distributed databases integrated with the existing
national database should be created.  This comprehensive database
should have capabilities beyond the current target-oriented systems
and allow both imagery analysts and customers to access different
levels of information to meet specific needs.  In the battlefield
of the future, fulfilling those NRT collection, exploitation, and
dissemination needs will be critical.   Ensuring our timelines are
faster than those of our adversaries, especially when those
adversaries will themselves have access to military grade imagery,
will require implementation of all of these recommendations.  These
issues must be addressed within the immediate future in order for
the imagery workforce to be adequate in the next century.  Though
some competitive analysis is healthy, the majority of today's
isolated and/or redundant imagery production occurs because we are
unable to share data, analysis and products between sites. 
Security measures that guard against unauthorized accesses, both
intentional and inadvertent, without stifling system performance,
are also required.   

          RECOMMENDATION:  The IC must move to all-digital
          exploitation of imagery, with access to cross-INT
          databases.  Move to a "virtual" analytic environment,
          i.e., one in which analysts are connected electronically.
          Increase funding to accelerate the procurement of
          softcopy (digital) workstations for imagery analysts. 
     The product of the future will be one of merged data from
every -INT.  They will become less and less textual and more
graphical.  Geospatially referenced graphical reporting with
standardized symbology will become the norm.  This will also
provide an acceptable method to help protect sources and
capabilities.  However, the customer must work with these analysts
closely before times of crises so that the customer will trust that
the symbols are accurate.  In this way, perhaps, we can reduce the
number of customers who feel they need the raw image, when in fact,
all they really need is the imagery-derived data.  
     This issue, though, may become a moot point, if the "virtual"
connectivity discussed above becomes reality.  If the new IMC
infrastructure is done correctly, users will be able to pull the
raw image if he needs it or pull the imagery derived information,
all the while retaining email/videoteleconferencing connectivity
with analysts within the community.  Our perception of CIO's
archival plan is that it does not include the raw imagery.  This is
a mistake.  All information should be accessible.  If this occurs,
the biggest issue will be ensuring that the user who pulls the raw
image also takes advantage of the imagery derived data.  A common
misconception is that the significant intelligence contained in an
image is readily apparent to the average observer.  While it is
true that a consumer, using an identification key, could find on
electro-optical imagery an SA-2 site because of its distinctive
pattern, the user would not be able to tell if the site were real,
dummy, or decoy.  Imagery analysis has come a long way from the
days of photointerpretation.  A comprehensive, analytical,
multisource approach to imagery exploitation is now the standard
within the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) and
the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), though generally not at the
force application levels of the military.  The IMC must be able to
serve both types of customers (force planners and force application
end users) and provide support in both types of situations -- where
the immediate transmission of raw imagery is enough and where
imagery derived information is essential.  The "virtual"
connectivity mentioned earlier will erase the need to limit the
number of raw images required by the user, rendering this
contentious issue irrelevant. 

     Procurement of information processing equipment is, and will
continue to be, an incredible challenge for an acquisition system
built for the Industrial Age.  Trillions of dollars are being spent
by industry on information technologies.  New products are coming
out every six months with new generations of products being
produced every 18 months.  Our information processing needs cannot
survive an acquisition system that takes five to 10 years to field
new systems (6.1, 6.2, 6.3 type funding is unacceptable for
information processing systems -- it mandates a long development
cycle).  We need to modernize our procedures to take advantage of
current technology.  Our adversaries certainly will.  Along these
lines, we need to take advantage of commercial advancements and
determine whether a commercial product that fulfills 90 percent of
our requirements is adequate compared to the cost to customize that
product for the extra 10 percent.   We need to make maximum use of
commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products which requires someone to
inform, encourage, influence and pay vendors to encompass our
specialized needs in their technology advancement efforts.  
Standards are also required so the "guy in the foxhole" can receive
imagery data, but government standards need to follow commercial
standards if we are to truly benefit from COTS products.  

     A government-commercial bridge is required, and luckily, one
already exists.  The National Technology Alliance (NTA) with the
National Information Display Laboratory and the National Media
Laboratory is that bridge and should be encouraged and expanded. 
The NTA attempts (and succeeds) in influencing commercial
capabilities to encompass government requirements.  It provides one
set of government requirements that commercial companies can deal
with and provides the commercial standards back to the government
to influence government decisions.   We must practice ways to
influence COTS systems before they come to the marketplace so they
will be useful to the government.   The NTA has been instrumental
in saving several government programs while simultaneously
influencing commercial standards to better support government
requirements.  They should be a mandatory participant in any new
acquisition of information processing equipment.   They should be
given the legislative and budgetary freedom to field ACTD-type
experiments until commercial companies can pick up the support. 
The Department of Defense (DoD) might benefit in non-intelligence
matters from a similar alliance to help accelerate the fielding of
commercial systems.    

          RECOMMENDATION:  Expand the purview of the National
          Technology Alliance (NTA), increasing its resources and
          flexibility to provide more rapid fielding of new
          technologies, and to exploit commercially available

      One approach to setting up the imagery processing (data
storage, retrieval, etc.) and communications infrastructure, which
merits closer scrutiny, is to hire a systems integrator to run this
process.  Systems integrators (SI) can cut across organizational
boundaries (when given that authority) and have the flexibility to
recapitalize quickly in areas where technology turns over
frequently.  These SIs are commercial companies that provide this
type of service for a broad array of users.  Their ability to
consolidate, delete duplication, quickly upgrade capability and
reduce costs provides a model the IMC community should strive to


     One of the biggest controversies today is the sharing of
imagery with our allies in the Balkans.  Intelligence data sharing
will continue to dominate foreign relations issues for many years. 
Every day we hear about a new request in ever more divergent areas:
environmental, law enforcement, disaster relief, etc.  Questions
arise:  How do we provide the same level of battlefield knowledge
to our allies and coalition partners, how do we provide information
on disasters, how do we provide data to support U.S. policy
decision, all while continuing to protect sources and methods?  
During the majority of our panels, the customer reiterated that in
most cases, he does not require the raw image, only the imagery-derived
information.  These consumers can be served with graphical
overlays which provide the imagery derived information without
giving away technical capability.  This has worked very well in the
support NPIC gives to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). 
FEMA provides the LANDSAT or SPOT image and the NPIC analysts
overlay those images with a graphical representation using
standardized symbology.  It is a very efficient process.  However,
again, in order for the customer to trust the information provided
in these graphical overlays, he must train with them. 

     Of course, in the 21st century, anyone will be able to buy
either military grade imagery (one meter) commercially or the
actual satellite itself as a turn-key system.  Yet, again, we
should look to graphical overlays and imagery derived information
as the medium we use to share data.  We should protect the billions
of dollars we invest in these capabilities for as long as we can;
once the capability is known, adversaries will undertake
countermeasures to defeat/degrade its collection capabilities.  In
the interim, graphical overlays will have to suffice.    

     We should also move to protect any future technology
breakthroughs.  Are we no longer concerned with maintaining a U.S.-only
capability and protecting our investments?  We need to put
back into the psyche of the community that secrecy is a
requirement, not an option, especially before we invest dollars in
next generation systems.  We must move to new collection that is
not understood by our adversaries.  Along these lines, we should
move to develop dissemination systems that can handle multiple
levels of classification.  Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
technology will allow numerous levels of classification to be
passed over the same communications lines.  We need to develop the
capability to have multiple levels of information accessible from
the same workstation.  


     Dissemination of intelligence information was touted as the
biggest failure of the IC during DESERT STORM.  Though it remains
a challenge today, much has been done at the national level to
define interfaces and standards.  Communications will be discussed
in another IC21 study, but the bottom line for today is that
imagery data can be disseminated to the theater in a timely manner. 
Below theater is where the problems lie and no national
organization is going to be able to fix it.  DoD must take the
challenge and mandate that each theater's unique mix of national,
commercial, and theater imagery needs and systems conform to common
dissemination standards and interfaces.   

          FINDING:  Imagery dissemination to the military below the
          Joint Task Force level remains a problem.

     CIO's A3I (Accelerated Architecture Acquisition Initiative) is
the right vision:  virtual imagery archives accessible at every
level.  However, here is a program that would benefit tremendously
from a Systems Integrator (SI).  As stated earlier,  these are
commercial SIs who have streamlined and reduced overhead for
numerous commercial and government ventures, providing
"infrastructure" type functions for an overall cost savings.  A3I
must establish a virtual imagery archive for all digital imagery
and imagery products that is easy for users to access.  Users will
"pull" whatever imagery and products they require.   It is in
essence, the imagery component of total battle space information to
the warrior as envisioned in the C4I concept.  Yet, it is really
just data storage, archiving and retrieval, and the future we
envision will have virtual databases for data from all of the -INTs.
Thus, instead of setting up another stovepiped system, we
must ensure that A3I will be compatible in the future with a
virtual multi-INT data retrieval and archival system.  We are not
convinced that this is what is occurring and, in fact, A3I has been
downgraded because of inadequate funding resources.   Also, the
military has been very skeptical of A3I because it does not address
improvements to the communications network below the CINC level. 
Though this is not the imagery community's responsibility, an SI
might be better equipped to cross organizational lines to implement
the infrastructure to support everyone's requirements.  In the near
term, though, A3I should not be criticized for things out of its
purview.  An SI might be able to ensure that the communications
community is looking at A3I to provide the necessary bandwidth and
that, with the advent of global broadcast and direct broadcast
service,  connectivity via these systems will be easily and quickly

Denial and Deception

          RECOMMENDATION:  The IC must continue to examine and to
          field means by which to overcome "denial and deception"

Commercial Systems

     Commercial systems should be viewed as an adjunct to our
national collectors.  There are some who believe that the small
satellite initiatives and declassification of national imagery will
put the commercial companies out of business.  However, the
commercial imagery companies developed their systems with the
aircraft imagery market as their main consumer, not just for the US
government (USG). Our prediction is that commercial imagery will be
just as important to the USG tomorrow as it is today.  It will be
a valuable augmenter of the national/tactical systems and the
multispectral sensing will provide unique data.  One area that
should be pursued is whether the commercial systems can provide a
"surge" capability that would allow more real time
collection/receipt of imagery during a crisis (similar to US Air
Force's current ownership of a SPOT collection terminal within the
Balkan theater).   One sorely needed improvement is a new process
for USG users to procure commercial data.  The current process
takes  months, using the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) as the
middleman, and the customer forced to bring his own money.  We
envision, as part of our imagery organization concept, a central
point which would procure commercial imagery as required from a
central pot of funding, authorized and appropriated for this
purpose.  These purchases would be made on behalf of the USG so
that anyone within the USG could use the imagery.  This imagery
would be archived within the  main national imagery library where
any user could access it.  The imagery organization would maintain
the index of what imagery had been procured.  Of course, the
disadvantage to this is that the imagery organization could become
the bottleneck for these purchases, pushing the customers to go out
and make their own agreements with the commercial companies.  This
should be allowed as long as the imagery purchased gets
incorporated into the national, not just the regional, library,
that a consolidated list of imagery purchased is passed to the
central repository for indexing, and if a common USG license is
issued.  This allows flexibility across the board.  

          FINDING:  The IC can use commercial imagery more
          effectively to meet some requirements. 

     There are some proposals being considered within the IC that
would encourage and allow our allies to buy a medium resolution
version of our imagery satellite system.  These systems would be
exempt from the current "shutter control" mandated by Presidential
Decision Directive (PDD-23).  The rationale for this proposal stems
from a concern about the US being able to maintain its lead in this
technology area because of reduced USG funding.  Through these
sales, we would have more funding available to invest in future
systems while getting increased coverage from these additional
systems. This proposal seems to contradict itself; on the one hand,
promoting commercial systems is a priority while on the other hand,
it advocates building a USG system for foreign military sales (FMS)
that would directly compete with those same commercial systems.  We
are also concerned about giving away our technological advantage in
this area.   We believe that the shutter control policy is a
necessity today.  However, we must assume that eventually systems
will be proliferated with no such encumbrances and should look to
reassess the policy at that time.  We also believe that our WFOV
small satellite program will not compete with commercial programs
or give any more unfair advantage to one program over another.  The
four licensed programs have all made the decision to go ahead and
develop these systems without government funding.  Further, the
commercial systems would be complementary.  By applying adequate
collection management, offloading requirements to the commercial
systems is a smart move on our part.  This would free up our
systems to collect other priorities.  The biggest difference
between our WFOV and the one discussed earlier is that ours would
not be made available for government-to-government sales.  We would
encourage sales of available commercial systems.

          RECOMMENDATION:  The IC must improve its acquisition and
          use of commercially available imagery.  Such imagery can
          be used in lieu of more costly national assets.  As
          demands to share imagery with non-allies during
          multilateral operations increases, the use of commercial
          imagery is especially important to obviate security

          RECOMMENDATION:  Set up an account for the easy purchase
          of commercial imagery, done under the common U.S.
          government licenses.  A central repository and indexing
          system should be created for easy access by all users.