With the return of so-called great power competition and a need for meeting priorities of the chief of naval operations ― to include providing a ready and capable fleet to address the challenges facing the United States ― the Navy’s top intelligence official has indicated what intel might best support the CNO’s to-do list.

“Our greatest need right now is in the undersea [mission] and the modernization of acoustic intelligence. That’s No. 1,” Vice Adm. Jan Tighe said during a panel discussion at the INSA National Security and Intelligence Summit in Washington on Wednesday. “Uniquely understanding and being able to surveil and do analysis in the undersea is something the Navy has to bring in spades.”

Tighe also explained the need to be able to provide insights into adversaries’ capabilities and weapons. These insights inform acquisition and help the force conduct modeling and simulation against threats.

In terms of intelligence readiness, Tighe described the Navy’s as moderate, noting that measuring intelligence readiness is very difficult versus deliberate means of measuring ther service’s aircraft and ship readiness. “The intelligence side really isn’t just lines of [processing, exploitation, dissemination] PED ― that’s not sufficient to the need; it’s getting after the outcome,” she said.

The intelligence readiness issue isn’t so much about budgetary issues as it is about the conflicts in which the force has been engaged for the last 15-20 years, Tighe explained.

“The global war on terror, the counterinsurgencies, we’ve been in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve been with SOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] ― especially our intelligence forces are being drawn into that. … At the same time, getting them ready for a potential high-end fight with near-peer competitors is quite a challenge,” she said. “Informing that acquisition system with the science and technical intelligence that we need, that’s a focus area for us to rebuild.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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