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NGA director to retire; successor likely to push hard for tech

Jun. 2, 2014 - 03:46PM   |  
By | AMBER CORRIN   |   Comments
Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration, will become director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency when Letitia Long retires in the fall
Robert Cardillo, Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration, will become director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency when Letitia Long retires in the fall (Sheila Vemmer/Staff)

After leading the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for more than four years, Letitia Long will retire this fall, according to a June 2 Defense Department announcement. Robert Cardillo, who will replace Long, currently serves as deputy director of national intelligence for intelligence integration.

Long has served in the government for more than 35 years, and has been a champion for technology and evolution at NGA. She helped to spearhead recent projects including the Map of the World and the Intelligence Community IT Environment (ICITE), both part of broader intelligence community initiatives designed to coordinate data and efforts between agencies that, until recently, operated mostly independently.

The overall goal, as Long touted it in April 2014 at the GEOINT symposium in Tampa, is “living in the data,” a catch-phrase for immersive and collaborative data-sharing and intelligence operations.

Related: Learn more about Robert Cardillo’s views of technology in our exclusive report.

See all of our coverage of GEOINT 2013*.

“The phase that we’re in right now of integrated intelligence is absolutely the starting point,” Long said in an April interview with C4ISR & Networks. “All of the [geospatial intelligence] data NGA and the military services provide, [human intelligence] data from CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, [signals intelligence] data from NSA, open-source data…all of the information and content that we all are collecting, analyzing and developing is available in the cloud for our analysts to be able to integrate it, fuse it, synthesize it, operate on it together to give us that total intelligence picture. When we achieve that, then we can start talking about living within the data.”

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Considering “intelligence integration” is part of his current job title, it would seem Cardillo is a logical choice to step in after Long. He also was at the GEOINT conference, where he talked about the policy and operational sides of federal intelligence, including both the need for and potential risks of sharing between strategic partners. He used the Ukraine-Russia conflict as an example, noting some of the challenges—which can sometimes be exacerbated by the expanding use of technology.

Nonetheless, Cardillo remains a proponent of technology, a characteristic that should serve him well as the intelligence community increasingly looks to high-tech solutions in its operations. At GEOINT he talked to reporters about the growing use of technology in daily intelligence functions, including in presidential briefings, and about the dangers of remaining behind the technological curve.

“I have been truly impressed with the way we are innovatively adding in a very cyclical way new capabilities and new technologies. I’d say that across the board in the community,” Cardillo said. “Our customers our so savvy now – we can’t get away with, ‘No, you can only have this in hard copy, it’s got to have this water seal in the bottom right-hand corner or it’s not official.’ If you’re not going to innovate, you’re irrelevant. Over time people will have less and less patience with that, and I’m pleased with that impatience.”

The shifting at the helm of NGA are just the latest leadership changes to hit the intelligence community. Just over a month ago, on April 30, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told employees in an agency-wide email that both he and his deputy, David Shedd, would step down by early this fall. Flynn’s departure came amid rumors of discord within intelligence community leadership.

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