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GEOINT is Key Enabler to NATO Troops

GEOINT infromation stovepiped

The addition of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) to surveillance and reconnaissance operations is now somewhat commonplace, but a number of nations are starting to realise that there is more to do in order to get the best effects from this intelligence source.

GEOINT seems to be a key enabler to NATO troops in operations across Europe – especially considering the common threat from the east with the rise in aggression from Russia – but there is still more to do to make the use of this data more effective.

GEOINT comes in many forms, ranging from satellite positioning data at the highest level, to human intelligence on goings on in a particular location at a given time at the basic level, but it all contributes to an operator’s knowledge and awareness of ongoing activity within a certain geographical area.

However, these sources of GEOINT are often stovepiped, and there is a drive from many nations and agencies to draw intelligence collection away from these siloed operations, instead bringing it into a shared domain so that information feeds can be cross-fed against each other.

Speed is a key element that differentiates a successful operation from a failed one, and more attention is being paid to the pace of recognition, decision and assembly in response to new information coming through.

Developments are being made in human geography and open-sourcing, two methods that effectively use information that is readily available to geolocate something of interest, Ian Spencer, director of the Defence Geographic Centre of the Joint Forces Intelligence Group within the UK Ministry of Defence, told the DGI conference in London, this week.

He pointed out that operators in this domain need to stop competing with each other, especially when they want to acquire the same information. He called for more synergy across the board, while also acknowledging that governments all have different needs, adding that currently, “all of the pieces don’t yet fit together.” 

At the moment, we’re still tripping people up [albeit] unintentionally,” he said.

Beth Stevenson

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