It’s no secret that intelligence drives operations, but U.S. military leaders today often receive that information from the private sector.

“It’s not just traditional collection that’s going to give me what I require. What we find is, we go out and we buy commercial threat intel,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, the head of Army Cyber Command, said Sept. 16 at an event hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army.

Fogarty repeated a line from other officials in the military cyber apparatus: intelligence organizations, such as the National Security Agency or, in the Army’s case, the Intelligence and Security Command, are their greatest enablers.

But, he added that commercial partners provide global insights that don’t come from the military.

“I don’t have a billion points of presence on endpoints globally dispersed but we have commercial partners that do,” he said. “I want to be able to leverage that just like industry can do. We have partnerships that we can build over a period of time that allows me access to that information.”

The Department of Defense writ large has begun to transition more to open source and commercial intelligence rather than first relying on the exquisite accesses it and its intelligence partners might be privy to. The Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outpost, awarded a contract in September 2017 to Recorded Future to increase U.S. Cyber Command’s visibility into threat data.

In addition, the recently retired head of Special Operations Command, Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas has described how intelligence will begin with open source and then officials will fill in the gaps with information from classified channels. The proliferation of technology and information sharing capability is "forcing us to reconsider the art and science of intelligence,” he said in August 2018.

For Fogarty, the goal is allowing commanders to understand, decide and act faster than the adversary.

“I have to be able to use every type of information that’s relevant whether it’s traditional military intelligence or something that I can get from industry, from academia,” he said. “It’s not only the data that’s important. But it’s the tools that allow me to create that situational understanding. My ability to turn that into something that the commanders can actually visualize [so] they can take action to either protect their forces or to exploit an opportunity that I ‘m able to allow them to visualize.”

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

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