NIMA head says Web will transform agency

The head of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency released a capstone document to technology vendors yesterday that spells out how the agency plans to unify its assets into a series of geographic information systems accessible from a Web browser.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, director of NIMA, said his agency heavily relied on industry's help to transform from a Cold War-era method of collecting intelligence, which relied on photographs and maps from well-known, mostly fixed targets. Today's military has fought in regions where NIMA didn't have a lot of geographical intelligence, such as Afghanistan, and had to work quickly with a consortium of contractors to build up information on caves, deserts and other sites.

In the document, Clapper introduces the term geospatial intelligence into the lexicon of national security. He defines it as the integration of NIMA's existing imagery and maps into a digital information environment that will work with other intelligence systems.

'It is now more difficult than ever to predict precisely where and when American power will next be needed to protect our national interests, and where the intelligence community must focus America's eyes and ears to provide the information advantage to decision-makers and warfighters,' Clapper said.

Geospatial intelligence will give warfighters a clear understanding of an adversary's infrastructure and vulnerabilities, permitting precise strikes against strategic and tactical targets, Clapper added.

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