Intelligence Drives the Decision Advantage

Written by Tom Pfeifer and Jeff Kimmons

man looking at digital globe

Seizing the High Ground in Ukraine: Exposing Russian Intent

We saw the power of information play out in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late 2021 when U.S. intelligence was able to preemptively—and publicly—expose and compromise hostile Russian intent and plans before they were executed. This enabled the U.S. to seize the cognitive “high ground,” rally allies and partner nations, inform the public of impending danger, and effectively counter adversary disinformation.

This rapid and effective leverage of all sources of information directly enabled early start of Western support for Ukraine and has provided continuing decision advantage. It has also contributed meaningfully to bolster public Ukrainian support for military resistance to Russian aggression, bought critical time for multidomain Western assistance to arrive and be integrated, and strengthened the will of the Ukrainian people to boldly resist.

Implications for the Indo-Pacific: China Is Watching

Other strategic competitors and potential adversaries are watching this unfold closely, notably China. As tensions continue to increase within the Indo-Pacific region, the ability to increase the speed with which to leverage all sources of classified and unclassified information for continuous situational understanding has never been more critical.

In many respects, the power of intelligence represents the single greatest means for increasing regional ally and partner unity of effort in confronting adversarial influence, fostering national will to resist foreign incursion, and providing a strong basis for bilateral security assistance. The ability to achieve strategic and operational situational understanding in near real-time has never been more essential to achieve global, and especially INDOPAC, asymmetric decision advantage. Achieving this will require effective, cross-cutting, integrated use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technical capabilities which are now increasingly available.

Technical Innovation for National Security

Recent technological advances have greatly increased the ability of intelligence organizations to collect, process, and analyze much larger volumes of information across all domains. But information alone isn’t intelligence. The real value of intelligence lies in the ability to rapidly overlay many pieces of information, apply context, derive understanding, discern change and significance, and disseminate useful insights and judgments to decision makers at all levels along operationally useful timelines.

If knowledge is power, then America’s decision information advantage is our superpower. Every day, intelligence operators provide actionable intelligence and insights to the nation's operating forces, defense leaders, and policymakers to inform wise decisions. Timely provision of accurate operational environment information gives joint forces operational advantage, increases successful outcomes, and saves lives. These insights can often be shared with allies and mission partners, enabling like-minded nations to achieve collective, synchronized effects not otherwise possible.

Leveraging Change to Safeguard the Future

One thing in certain: as the nation continues to engage in global competitive environments, the intelligence community needs to move forward faster. At Booz Allen, we’ve found that fully leveraging the rapid pace of technological change can be a force multiplier.

Time and time again we have helped our clients automate data processing, enrich information holdings, and leverage the power of analytic algorithms and machine learning to achieve holistic situational awareness and rapid understanding—staying ahead of adversary actions by anticipating “what’s next” in the operational environment and determining how emerging technologies can best be applied without waiting for formal requirements to catch up. Three elements underpin the ability to speed technical change for intelligence operators and organizations: digital modernization, AI integration, and application of high-end analytics.

Advances in Computing Power and AI

As software and electronics increasingly diffuse into every imaginable corner (and device), information is increasingly created, collected, and stored, hour after hour, day after day. Technological advances also enable us to do more and more with the data being collected. More powerful processors—which continue to shrink significantly in size and expand in compute power—enable massive processing “at the edge” where most users reside, where speed of understanding is most crucial, and where rapidly developing “flash to bang” consequences are most lethal. What would have taken supercomputers hours in the 1980s can now occur on a phone in seconds and minutes, and concurrently be shared with other devices or to the cloud.

Making exponentially broader use of collected data is now possible through more powerful analytics solutions enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. These pieces of software not only process the data available to them but can also learn and continuously refine their actions over time. This allows them to become progressively better and faster at assigned tasks and more capable of adapting to new ones. 

Data Sharing for Regional Security

Automating tasks and uncovering powerful insights is one imperative. Just as critical is the ability to share these advantages to strengthen regional and global partnerships and alliances. Our data-centric environment advances multidomain communications across organizations, echelons, and classification levels. This critical objective to synchronize joint effects is at the heart of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)—a top DOD priority to maximize the operational success of U.S., allied, and partner nation forces worldwide. That can powerfully reinforce the impact of U.S. security assistance throughout INDOPAC and strengthen the resolve of allies and partner nations to resist regional encroachment or aggression.   

Rapid sharing of multidomain, all-source-based warning of adversary intent is particularly powerful when it can be shared publicly to counter disinformation, compromise threat preparations, and serve as a credible basis for a broad range of military and political deterrents.  

Cybersecurity in the Digital Battlespace

All these improvements—more powerful software and hardware, secure communications, and the ability to rapidly stitch together and analyze massive amounts of information—are a game changer for the intelligence community and, by extension, for joint operations across the Department of Defense (DOD) that strengthen America’s security.

We are also mindful of the vulnerabilities inherent in enterprise-wide technology solutions which continue to expand across the internet of things globally. Cyber threats that used to be largely relegated to large enterprise systems now impact our ability to use digital capabilities that impact every aspect of our daily lives. Almost everything we do is now at some degree of risk: from the nation’s critical infrastructure, telecommunications networks, and weapons systems to personal computers and cell phones.

For 20 years Booz Allen has been on the leading edge in the cyber battlespace, identifying and mitigating threats for the intelligence and national security communities. Our talented technologists—digitally savvy, globally distributed, and diverse in background and experience—are on the front lines across the federal and commercial space, ensuring that the advantages we enjoy are protected and ready where we need them, when we need them.

Advancing the Power of Information

These core elements—our technological advantages, cyber defenses, and innovative tech talent—will help preserve U.S. global leadership and advance the capabilities required to successfully meet current and future challenges in INDOPAC, Europe, and worldwide.

Experts in the Field

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