As the Intelligence Community prepares for the shared IT environment ICITE, some of the biggest hurdles may be human and not technical ones.
“We will be able to be there soon, to where we can virtually bring people together and do things, but we’ve got to overcome some cultural barriers,” said Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said, at the GEOINT 2013* conference in Tampa, Fla. “And frankly, we have to work through, probably, a generation of people who are still struggling to understand — not operate in that environment — how to even think about how to operating in that environment.”
Being prepared for an increasingly wider variety of threats in a rapidly changing world means placing the right people in the right places and finding ways to work together with other government agencies.
“When we brought people together from different parts of the government, we found that we were highly effective,” Flynn said. “And so, what we need to do is think about how we do that at a higher operational level and certainly at a strategic level.”
DIA is predominantly a training organization. Flynn said it spends between $150 million and $200 million annually on training. This includes training it provides outside DoD and across the intelligence community. He said last year DIA trained more than 160,000 people between DoD and government agencies and the workforce is the most important investment the agency can make.
To maintain a high quality workforce Flynn said the Intelligence Community needs to think about recruiting at a younger age and looking for ways to make up where the public education system is lacking.
“Our nation is still really strong in the higher education, the collegiate and graduate level school system, K-12 not so much,” he said. “We have got to break back into that market. We’ve got to figure out how do we invest in some of that. Whether that’s done through private investment, public-private venture, developing new ideas for getting interns into the system — even at the high school level in some cases — we’ve got to be thinking about how to do this. There are dollars available that we do put to this because we have to train a workforce.”
So what are they training for?
Flynn said they are focused on exploding populations and technology.
“You begin to look at places on the planet where there are large segments of large populations and they are growing rapidly,” he said. “And you also look at the information technology that is there.”
Africa makes up 47 percent of the global cell phone market, Flynn pointed out. An exploding population, generally weak institutions, in some cases no institutions, with a lot of underlying conditions, he said.
India will soon surpass China as the most populated country in the world. Its population is expected to grow by 800 million between now and 2050.
“Behind every computer is a human being,” Flyn said. It may not be the case in the future but right now behind every computer is a human being. That means that they have intentions, they have willingness or they’re being directed.”