‘A Lot Going On!’ in Military Intelligence Disclosure

MQ-9 Reaper drone. Air Force photo.

MQ-9 Reaper drone. Air Force photo.


The Pentagon’s vast intelligence apparatus includes satellites, spy planes, ground-based electronic snooping devices and a virtual army of operatives, analysts, linguists, cryptologists and hackers.

That’s evident in a Fiscal Year 2010 budget justification document obtained, via a Freedom of Information Act request, by Steven Aftergood from the Federation of American Scientists.

The cost of this vast military intelligence architecture, redacted in the budget document but disclosed separately, totaled $24 billion in 2011, $27 billion the year before that and $26 billion in 2009.

Despite the redactions, the 2010 budget justification “does give a sense of the scope and variety of the defense intelligence program,”Aftergood tells Up in Arms. “There’s a lot going on!” he adds.

That includes a wide array of drone development and operations for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command; satellite imagery collection from military and commercial satellites; sensors on submarines and other warships; codebreaking of air-, land- and sea-based communications by the National Security Agency; and the acquisition and analysis of unspecified “foreign material” by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Special Operations Forces in particular benefit from a large number of intelligence programs listed in the 2010 budget justification, including the tagging and tracking of terror suspects, forensics-style evidence-collection at the sites of commando raids plus something called the “global sensor network.”

The document Aftergood obtained via FOIA mentions these capabilities and more, although the specific cost breakdowns are blacked out.

Overall, the Pentagon funds roughly a third of U.S. intelligence activities, which all-together cost $79 billion last year, $80 billion in 2010 and $76 billion in 2009, according to FAS, citing other government disclosures. Many intel agencies — the NSA, the satellite-operating National Reconnaissance Office and the imagery-analyzing National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, for example — are jointly funded by the Pentagon and the civilian National Intelligence Program. “Disentangling one from the other is hard to do, even on the inside,” Aftergood says.

The 2010 budget document contains a couple of surprises, according to John Pike from the online Globalsecurity.org, which aggregates defense and intelligence information.

For one, the Defense Security Service — a sort of military IT organization — and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which helps research and dispose of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, are both listed as components of military intelligence. Pike says he finds the categorization “interesting.” Neither agency was previously known to conduct intelligence missions.

This entry was posted in David Axe, English, General Knowledge.

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