Flattops from space: the once (and future?) meme of photographing aircraft carriers from orbit

The Space Review – In 1984, Samuel Loring Morison, an analyst at the Naval Intelligence Support Center outside of Washington, DC, picked three photos off the desk of a colleague. He clipped the security classification stamps off the sides of the photos and provided them to Jane’s Defence Weekly, which had only recently begun publishing. The photos were taken by a satellite of a Soviet Union military shipyard. Knowing that they had a real scoop, the editors at Jane’s put one of the photos on the cover of the magazine and featured the other two in a short article about the latest Soviet naval developments…

Hidden Threat To Navies: How Freely Available Satellite Imagery Can Track Radars

Naval News – Open source intelligence can pose a threat to naval operations of any nation. It is free available and, largely, easily analyzed. Anyone with an internet connection can potentially locate warships in operational settings. Radar satellite data is not the most intuitive, but it provides OSINT watchers with yet another tool to track navies. And no navy is immune from OSINT.

Naval Intelligence, the CIA, and the Soviet-Russian Threat: The Cold War and Beyond

USNI Blog – As the United States and its Navy orient to the current Russian threat, there are lessons to be learned from Cold War history. The original Cold Warriors succeeded in avoiding a direct, large-scale military clash between the United States and Soviet Union. In such a “cold” conflict, intelligence counts as much as firepower. With a growing body of previously classified material now available, researchers and intelligence professionals have increased insight into what worked well—and what did not—in the U.S. intelligence community’s efforts to understand the Soviet Navy. These lessons remain relevant.

Persistent Eye in the Sky: How Commercial Satellites Can Help the Navy Achieve Superior Maritime Awareness

War on the Rocks – The revolution in small commercial satellites, combined with the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, turns satellite imagery from mere information into intelligence. The commercialization of these capabilities gives other nations — both small and peer competitors — the ability to compete with the United States for a space-based ISR advantage. The U.S. Navy should take advantage of and integrate advances in commercial ISR technology to enhance its strike capabilities and ensure that it continues to control the seas.

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees: The Value of OSINT for the US Navy

CIMSEC – With the advent of the Information Age, a rapid evolution of technological innovations democratized and decentralized information, creating a digital universe and a surfeit of open source intelligence, or OSINT. In the past decade alone, the world produced more information than it had in the rest of human history. This diffusion of information holds significant promise for the Naval Intelligence community, whose own rich history is replete with examples of OSINT being an integral part of the analytic picture.

Loitering With Intent

Harper’s – William Arkin writes: “When I look at the digital legions splayed out on a battlefield that is truly global, I see drones and the Data Machine they serve as the greatest threats to our national security, our safety, and our very way of life. If drones instantly ceased to exist, the black boxes at the heart of the Data Machine would still direct manned aircraft and satellites. And yet drones are the proper place to start thinking about our deluded pursuit of perfect war, which is produced by our hubristic endeavor to root out evil everywhere and our increased unwillingness to suffer human sacrifice in the course of making war.”

Intelligence – Who's in Big Brother's Database?

New York Review of BooksWho’s in Big Brother’s Database?

James Bamford reviews a history of the National Security Agency. The most interesting part:

“…Instead, what the agency needs most, Aid says, is more power. But the type of power to which he is referring is the kind that comes from electrical substations, not statutes. “As strange as it may sound,” he writes, “one of the most urgent problems facing NSA is a severe shortage of electrical power.” With supercomputers measured by the acre and estimated $70 million annual electricity bills for its headquarters, the agency has begun browning out, which is the reason for locating its new data centers in Utah and Texas. And as it pleads for more money to construct newer and bigger power generators, Aid notes, Congress is balking.

The issue is critical because at the NSA, electrical power is political power. In its top-secret world, the coin of the realm is the kilowatt. More electrical power ensures bigger data centers. Bigger data centers, in turn, generate a need for more access to phone calls and e-mail and, conversely, less privacy. The more data that comes in, the more reports flow out. And the more reports that flow out, the more political power for the agency.

Rather than give the NSA more money for more power—electrical and political—some have instead suggested just pulling the plug…”