DNI Haines As-Delivered Remarks at GEOINT 2023

DNI Haines As-Delivered Remarks at GEOINT 2023



Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines

As-Delivered Remarks for GEOINT 2023

St. Louis, Missouri

May 24, 2023


Truly, thanks so much, Jennifer, for that wonderful introduction, and thanks, Ronda, too for your incredible leadership of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation over the years.


For two decades, the Foundation’s partnership with NGA and the entire spectrum of Intelligence Community elements, has allowed us to achieve critical results for the country.


And good morning to everybody else! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here.


As a longtime fan of GEOINT, it’s an honor and a privilege to get to speak to all of you this morning at my first GEOINT conference, alongside so many phenomenal leaders from across the private sector, from military and the intelligence communities.


And it is also especially exciting to do so here in St. Louis, which we have for years been referring to as a “game-changing” opportunity not only for NGA but for the entire Intelligence Community, and to see it come to fruition as we have after years of work is nothing short of extraordinary.


There is so much energy and activity here—you all have built an exceptional GEOINT technical ecosystem that models for the rest of us what we can do when partnering across private sector, the public sector, and academia.


And the partnerships—and the sense of community in this room—have given us, the Intelligence Community, a strategic advantage, and working together, we are relentlessly improving and enhancing the security of the United States and our allies and partners.


You’ve heard from others, including Trey I think yesterday, about the amazing accomplishments we have had in collection orchestration, in GEOINT analysis, and where we’re going on data integration and automation, as we seek to adapt the extraordinary set of emerging technologies that exist today into our work.


What I want to tell you from my perspective is how critically important GEOINT is to the national intelligence mission, and why I see that as only increasing over time, and how fundamental our partnerships are in achieving our vision for the future.


In short, I cannot overstate how fundamental your collective work is—you are absolutely at the forefront of our competitive advantage and one that we must retain if we are to remain capable of addressing the national security landscape we face today.


Perhaps it is worth just taking a moment to comment on how far we’ve come—even as the spirit that moves us, remains the same.


Many of the topics and the challenges that you’ve talked about this week were only ideas and concepts in the not-too-distant past. Technologies like generative AI and advanced machine learning, 3D geospatial and on-board, real-time motion visualization, and quantum sensing—these were just some of the many ideas that you all turned into reality.


And some here remember that during the first Gulf War it took hours—and sometimes days—to get data from overhead reconnaissance to commanders in the field, with those images far inferior to what is commercially available today.


And since then, we have come a long way. Today we now find ourselves at another inflection point in history, one where our choices and our ability to maintain our advantage will have global and even generational consequences.


The national security landscape has changed, too, becoming more complex and interconnected, even as some things remain the same.


My office—the office of the Director of National Intelligence—was established following the attacks of September 11 in 2001, and was charged with leading and integrating the intelligence community for the threats facing the country then, and also preparing for the future.


And now almost twenty years later while terrorism remains a critical national security threat, it is not the defining challenge that it was then.


The United States faces a different landscape—an increasingly complex and interconnected threat environment characterized by strategic competition between the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and the Russian Federation, felt perhaps most immediately in Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine. And in addition to states, sub-national and non-governmental actors are increasingly able to create influence, compete for information, and secure or deny political and security outcomes, which provides opportunities for new partnerships as well as new challenges to U.S. interests.


In addition, shared global challenges, including climate change, human and health security, as well as emerging and disruptive technological advances, are converging in ways that produce significant consequences that are often difficult to predict.


As the Director of National Intelligence, I have the privilege of leading an Intelligence Community that provides decision-makers and citizens crucial insights on this diverse and complex landscape—and a fundamental element of our capacity to do our jobs is the extraordinary degree to which we are integrating and fusing data from every corner of our intelligence enterprise— especially GEOINT—in providing such insights.


Furthermore, our support to policymakers, operators, warfighters is critically dependent on our ability to look beyond the immediate horizon to ensure the Intelligence Community is well postured to address emerging threats, promote national resilience and innovation, defend our competitive advantage, and promote shared prosperity.


And this is where so many of you come in, as you help us look beyond the horizon. We know that the kinds of information, technology, and relationships that are needed to be effective in the future has expanded and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


And for example, we simply cannot do what we are doing today—nor can we evolve as we need to into the future—without the commercial sector.


We are—perhaps quite obviously—increasingly reliant, for example, on the use of commercial data in the Intelligence Community, and I don’t need to tell you that NGA is a leader in this area.


For example, we leverage more than 300,000 square kilometers of commercial imagery collection each and every day for just our mapping requirements alone.


In fact, we are finding that balancing tasks between commercial and government systems, sharing information more easily with allies and partners, and supporting both foundational and crises operations with commercial GEOINT has never been so good as it is today.


And one example of the influence and impact of GEOINT and NGA’s leadership in and beyond the Intelligence Community is their Global Enhanced Geospatial Delivery program.


This brings time-sensitive information to more than 400,000 users and 125 programs across the U.S. government.


It includes commercially available information and seamless access to diverse data sources, with the span and scope of offerings changing constantly based on time, technology, and the needs of mission.


And over time, these relationships will only grow.


I expect that commercial providers will engage in every phenomenology the IC collects on, including across the entire hyper-spectral and hyper-temporal imaging and RF spectrum range.


I also expect that in the future, commercial imaging and digital mapping products, which are already ubiquitous, will evolve into three-dimensional immersive products.


This will allow our national security teams to practice their operations realistically, operate with up-to-date visualizations that will make consulting traditional maps obsolete.


But of course, as widely available capabilities evolve, so must ours, because the pace of change is not always dominated by us—sometimes it is by our competitors in the GEOINT domain and beyond.


And to maintain our advantage we are increasingly moving from air- to space-based platforms, and improving our interoperability among systems that collect data across domains, fusing them into integrated products tailored to the needs of our customers.


These trends are key to the Intelligence Community’s future architecture.


And as you know, there is a true democratization taking place in space, which, like so many domains, is increasingly contested and crowded, with tens, and, perhaps soon, hundreds of thousands of objects of varying value and sophistication from governments and commercial operators.


We are in a revolution in the use of space-based information, and this is where GEOINT platforms will increasingly reside. As we become more dependent on them, we also need to push the envelope to ensure that they are reliable, resilient, and secure.


And at the same time, GEOINT, as our eye in the skies, is and always will be a vital part of an increasingly rich, nuanced, multidimensional and interconnected intelligence environment.


In order to create that environment, we will need to orchestrate the architecture of GEOINT and all other INTs across every domain so that:

  • They work together seamlessly;
  • So that we have a Tasking, Collection, Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination process that can take full advantage of Artificial Intelligence and other critical scientific and technological advancements; and,
  • So that we can get GEOINT data to users so that it can be integrated with other relevant data sources in real time for our customers.

Always while finding ways to ensure that what we do is consistent with the law and our values—we want to combine our critical data to achieve greater insights and then to treat such data like the strategic asset that it is, fusing it from different sources, including from space-based GEOINT systems into one continuous, real-time package that is resilient and secure.


And this goal holds the potential of integrating multiple inputs from across domains, so that together they provide a comprehensive understanding of what is happening on the ground, in the air, under sea, in space, truly globally.


To get there, it will take more than data integration across government, however. It will take a skilled and talented workforce—and our private sector and foreign partners working together with one another and with us in sensors, spacecraft technologies, power systems, and the development of continuous supply chains across the life of each product.


It requires us to work together to ensure the safety and security of systems—both yours and ours—against both the inherent risks of operating in space, and the risks posed by our adversaries, who do not make a distinction between private industry and government, particularly during a conflict or a crisis.


And this leads me to just emphasize the fact that we are so grateful to all of you for your work and your partnership, for we know that given the multifaceted challenges that we face today, frankly we need each other – the government cannot do this alone.


And if you believe as I do that these are real and present challenges, then all the elements of the Intelligence Community that touch on GEOINT equities need to work together to protect and defend our democracy, our people, our partners and allies, and our values at home and around the world.


And in this dynamic and competitive threat environment, I believe it is crucial that we develop the right relationships; inculcate the diverse, inclusive, and equitable talent that we need; and establish integrated mechanisms to support them.


These partnerships must be solid, deep, and sustainable so we can truly rely on them when we need them the most, and this requires those of us in government to build an infrastructure that promotes sharing and collaboration.


We’re working on this. We know it is not perfect. I’ll just name a few initiatives we are undertaking to give you a sense of what I mean:

  • The Secretary of Defense and I established a Commercial Strategy Board to improve the procurement of commercial data and analytic services. And in particular, it will focus on the Intelligence Community’s commercial space-based capabilities’ strategy and budget, which includes:
    • Ensuring compliance with commercial-first principles;
    • Considering the requirements and investments necessary for commercial providers to meet the unique needs of government; and,
    • Pushing national capabilities toward technologies without viable markets.
  • And NGA’s NSG Commercial GEOINT Requirements Process, which was established last year, will enable the solicitation, consolidation, and prioritization of unmet GEOINT needs, and coordinate commercial GEOINT purchases by NGA; and,
  • There is also NRO’s Commercial GEOINT Integration initiative, which is designed to seamlessly integrate commercial and national capabilities into a truly hybrid commercial and government overhead constellation. And this will result in a scalable cloud-based architecture that is capable of supporting multiple suppliers and diverse approaches across different domains.

Our success in these and many other initiatives depends on our ability to work well with others across disciplines and develop stronger relationships with our commercial partners.


And the importance of those partnerships—of working together with you and with our allies around the world—cannot be overstated, nor can the critical role that conferences like this have in bringing us together into one conversation.


Here we can raise important issues, reflect on the world around us, and explore new and creative approaches, so that we can find ways forward that increase our security, enhance our capabilities, give our nation a decision advantage that no one else can match.


And these relationships will be absolutely critical to our success, for they bring to us unique perspectives, experiences and knowledge. They will test and challenge our assumptions; they will help us chart a course for a shared future.


And this need for deeper, more dynamic relationships comes from a recognition that we in government do not have all the answers—far from it.


So many of the best ideas and incredible innovations come from a competitive, dynamic private sector, and the open academic and research environments that are hallmarks of our society and our democratic values.


It also comes from the recognition that we are much more capable of protecting our country and our values when we do so together, as the extraordinary response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed us so well.


This has been key to our success as a nation in the past, and it will be necessary to take these relationships to the next level if we are going to continue to lead in the future.


That is the promise of this conference and of the commitment of NGA and the Intelligence Community to incredible hubs of innovation like we have here in St. Louis.


And it is truly a pleasure to be with you, and I want to thank you for your partnership with us. Thank you so much.