/* */

12 September 2007

National Applications Office - the natural home of new intelligence professionalization efforts?

The higher order effects of investments in key intelligence areas have always led to the most interesting of spin-offs in the civilian environments. Google Earth is the indirect result of the “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative program’s focus on small satellites for the Brilliant Pebbles anti-ICBM mission, which led directly to commercial imagery platforms that produce the take which Keyhole / Google has so brilliantly rendered into a user friendly application. And for every one of these stories which is commonly known, there are dozens of others which remain obscured by the arcane nature of technology transfer and invention.

We thus watch with great interest for new developments to emerge from the revamped National Applications Office, whose mission is to apply intelligence community technologies and skills to civilian applications in the law enforcement, homeland security, and civil sectors. There is plenty of historical precedent for these engagements, and much potential for new partnerships with entities in the public and private sectors.

However, we would also hope the new National Applications Office will create a home for one of the more neglected aspects of information sharing and collaboration – the cultivation of the tradecraft and training of those engaged in the hard business of intelligence in new areas outside of the legacy community. There are too few good sources of training and education in intelligence studies for currently serving professionals in law enforcement and homeland security studies (outside of going back to university for another degree), and even fewer for those engaged in critical infrastructure protection efforts in the private sector.

We believe that NAO would be a natural home for training outreach efforts designed to bring the best practices of the core community’s long history and experience to the newcomer state, local, tribal, and industry participants. There is a wide field of practitioners and educators to draw upon, and a range of proven models for delivering the kinds of coursework and practical experiences that will be needed to ensure further professionalization – especially for those who may be subject matter experts within their specific domains, but who lack any prior community experience.

In a September 12th world, much still remains to be done in breaking down traditional barriers, forging new partnerships, and creating new models to ensure that we can truly say “Never again”. This is exactly the kind of step that is needed on that road.

Labels: , , ,