Team seeks to improve coordination between geospatial intelligence systems and Air Force aircraft

  • Published
  • By Brian Brackens
  • Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – A key factor in the operational success of U.S. Air Force aircraft is the use of data from geospatial intelligence information systemsoperated by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA).

The data provides key information related to location, navigation and the environment, that allow Airmen to plan and execute missions, target adversaries and gain battlefield superiority.

Recently an Air Force team made a number of recommendations designed to improve the interface between Air Force and NGA systems. 

“When NGA makes a change to one of the geospatial intelligence systems that our aircraft are using, it can be challenging for us to tell them [NGA] what the impact of the change is for us,” said Brittany Adams, a member of the Advanced Tactical Acquisition Corp (ATAC) – Team 12, “That can be an issue because the update [software or hardware] may not be compatible with our aircraft, and by default, our foreign military sales partners.”

The team determined that the challenge is due in part to the lack of configuration data management caused by not having enough acquisition intelligence analysts in the workforce that can maintain a tracking database for geospatial systems and serve as experts on systems impact on Air Force aircraft.

Some of the recommendations the team made include developing a recruitment pipeline for acquisition intelligence professionals and placing them within aircraft program offices, and creating a centralized Department of Defense digital database for tracking geospatial intelligence systems. An additional recommendation was to make acquisition intelligence positions Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act coded, which would improve funding to those positions.

“The team also devised a plan that was implemented by NGA to transition the storing of unclassified geospatial intelligence termination data from a classified network to a NIPRNet system,” said Capt. Chris Bang, also a member of ATAC. “This process change enables program offices to better forecast, plan and execute their GEOINT requirements.”

“We developed a total of seven recommendations that improve the processes, tools, and resources for intelligence supportability in acquisition” said Capt Chris Bang, a member of ATAC – Team 12, “Our desired end-goal is to allow acquisition leaders to make intel-informed decisions and deliver capabilities that provide our warfighters a tactical advantage.”
Part of the ATAC team’s job was to work with and get feedback from various stakeholders.

“We worked to identify stakeholders – which included program executive officers, directors of intelligence, and the NGA – engage and coordinate with them to get buy-in for our recommendations going forward,” added Bang.

As a leadership development program founded in 2016, ATAC provides acquisition professionals with an opportunity to help solve Department of the Air Force challenges, while learning from senior Air Force and industry leaders.

“ATAC has been tough, it’s been stressful, but it’s been encouraging, it’s been exciting, so it’s been priceless,” said Adams. “I benefited a ton, and I’ve learned so much over the course of 14 weeks.  I’m definitely not going home the same person I came here as.”

“ATAC rekindled that fire inside of me,” added Bang. “It did it in three ways. The first was the people I got to meet and collaborate with - the peer network I built with these incredibly smart, driven and motivated people is most valuable. Second, ATAC provided a unique opportunity to engage directly with many senior leaders in the Air Force and industry. Learning about their leadership perspectives aided in developing my own leadership acumen. The last thing is the problem statement. None of us came in with a baseline knowledge of acquisition intelligence.  However, we walked away knowing the importance and criticality of ensuring intel is integrated in the acquisition process.”

The following individuals are members of ATAC Team 12:
Brittany Adams, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
John Atkinson, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Rudy Baisa, Air Force Test Center
Capt. Chris Bang, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Sydney Collier, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
Matthew Dalton, Air Force Research Laboratory  
Autumn Johnson, Air Force Sustainment Center  
Scott Long, HQ Air Force Materiel Command
Bo Walters, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center