GI Wilson: Maps for Post-Sandy Recovery – Good, Bad, & Ugly – Comment by Robert Steele

Col GI Wilson, USMC (Ret)

We always have a map problem…I know you have known this for yrs and yrs and been the single voice in the map wilderness calling out….I wonder who got all those old Soviet maps after the fall…..we have never solved this problem…we just think we have. yes…No…?

After Sandy, Intelligence Agencies Scramble To Feed Maps, Data To Rescuers

Colin Clark

AOL Government, 30 October 2012

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As FEMA, firemen, police and the National Guard wade into the devastation visited upon us by Hurricane Sandy, many of them are using maps and other information made available to them by intelligence agencies.

While intelligence analysts and their technical specialists usually spend their time targeting bad guys and helping troops plan to get them, some of them have gotten the rare and welcome chance to help their own countrymen at home several times since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency provides most of the support to civil authorities during disasters. It takes photos, infrared and other data from satellites and airplanes and builds them into remarkably detailed and accurate maps.

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ROBERT STEELE:  Huge advances have been made since Robert Kohler informed the US Government in 1994 that the classified satellite business was not scalable and required the release of the capability into the public domain.  In combination with Google Maps and Images, capability around the world — and at home — is vastly better in principle than it ever was.  HOWEVER, we still have not integrated NGA and USGS as recommended by Arnie Donahue and the National Academy of Public Administration; NGA has still not filled in the Swiss Cheese holes that are pervasive throughout the only shuttle mission that I know of — of course I hope I am wrong — and NGA still does not “get” the reality that a ground unit needs 175 PAPER 1:50,000 (or for nautical units, multiple paper copies of charts at the 1:20,000 level).  Web sites and laptops will simply not do.  We tried to solve the compact high=speed color printing problem in 1992-1993, could not do it, today we can, this needs to be brought forward on the agenda.  The ugly is the continued failure of NGA to get serious about Third World maps and co-opting the entire Russian military chart collection less China — the Chinese are said to have gotten in and burned down the storage unit holding Russian stocks on China but for on the shelf UPDATED Third World, the Russians are still the best, and Eastview Cartographic is still the best channel as well as integrator of all-source (multiple nation) MC&G (and as a small business, less costly than beltway bandits, with no vaporware and no costly virtual engineering).  I was personally responsible for getting MC&G into the Foreign Intelligence Requirements and Capabilities Plan (FIRCAP) in 1992 and I suspect the time has come to revisit where we are — on Mali and Niger, for example.  We have also not made progress — as best I can tell from the cheap seats — in assuring geospatial attributes on HUMINT, SIGINT, and MASINT as well as OSINT, such that machine-speed fusion can be accomplished as I urged the GDIP Council in 1988 (“show me everything we know at all levels of classification for this square kilometer of Third World port or inland airfield”).  There is a great deal that needs to be done to heal US Intelligence, US Policy, US Acquisition, and US Operations.  We can start by telling the truth at all levels on all topics.  Lies are sand in the gears of progress, and in a worst case, kill our comrades.  Intelligence with integrity is the way forward, in my humble opinion.

See Also:

2013 Robert Steele: Reflections on Inspectors General

2010 M4IS2 Presentacion por Sur America (ANEPE Chile) — 2010 M4IS2 Briefing for South America

2010 Human Intelligence: All Humans, All Minds, All the Time

2010 Fixing the White House & National Intelligence

2009  Intelligence for the President–AND Everyone Else

2009 Perhaps We Should Have Shouted: A Twenty-Year Retrospective

Journal: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP