The imperatives of the national security enterprise increasingly demand more and more secure, low latency bandwidth, not only in the homeland and where terrestrial fiber networks are available, but also in the air and in austere or contested electronic signal environments.
Consequently, solutions that can provide that capability in short order have a lot of potential use cases in national security missions.
That is no less true in the Intelligence Community (IC).
When I was at the DoDIIS conference last month, which brought together “information geeks” from all 17 intelligence agencies in one place and one time, one theme that was very clear to me is that the IC is shifting its focus from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency to near-peer competition, and Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), has also recently endorsed this shift.
This has major implications for how the IC thinks about its network and—more importantly—how they will need to develop it to compete with near-peer adversaries, like Russia and China, who have the ability to jam, spoof or otherwise disrupt the means by which we get information from sources to intelligence agencies to the warfighter and back again.
To add to that challenge, the intelligence community needs to not only protect its ever-growing amount of data against jamming and spoofing attempts but also operate and transmit data across multiple levels of classification, from Classified all the way up to SCI.
In my mind, a readily available answer to these solutions—not to mention an avenue that will help the IC continue to modernize its data management with innovations like the IC cloud—is utilizing next generation commercial satellite solutions.
To touch on security concerns first, the newest commercial satellites offer governments unique ways to keep the adversary from denying us access to the signal environment. To use SES’s O3b mPOWER constellation as an example, each of our satellites have up to 3,000 beams through which they can actually steer very broad bandwidth in a narrow enough beam that makes it very difficult for an adversary to jam because they’d have to be within the beam to do so.
The resiliency in this one beam, plus the 2,999 others that are supported by just one satellite in this constellation, moreover, not only works to ensure that the network will be there when it’s needed, near-peer competition or not, but the high bandwidth and low latency of O3b mPOWER means that the IC can make its data available wherever it is needed.
This is a crucial challenge to the IC. They have a huge amount of data at multiple levels of classification coming in from all manner of places, from a moving aerial platform to a remote location in the desert of Syria, and they need to move that data, manage it, and store it in such a way that it is accessible anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
Moreover, the solutions that I heard over and over again at DoDIIS as a way to help manage the inflow of data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and the use of the IC Cloud platform all require an incredibly high amount of bandwidth so that personnel in the field can get whatever analytics they need from the cloud from wherever in the world they happen to be.
Satellite solutions like O3b mPOWER offer a solution to these IC concerns, and, in keeping this year’s DoDIIS theme, promote “resiliency, redundancy and security” of their growing information systems.
To learn more about O3b mPOWER’s applications to government missions, click here.