Hanscom shares innovative technology with NASIC

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  • By 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

The chief scientist for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, recently came to Hanscom to investigate how research and innovation efforts here could significantly enhance intelligence.

Curtis Rowland, a defense intelligence senior leader, who, according to his biography, helps guide 3,000 total force Airman dedicated to creating predictive intelligence in all Air Force domains, met with engineers and scientists at the Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center, MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, Cambridge. Each meeting was focused on how technological innovation at each agency could further intelligence gathering and foster better understanding of adversary tactics.

“At NASIC, there is good work going on throughout the center, but there’s not always a lot of visibility for the work being accomplished at the squadron level,” Rowland said. “We must shed light on the people who are countering those tougher adversary developments. Hanscom offers a great pipeline between innovative squadron-level Airmen, industry and the warfighter.”

Rowland echoed Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein’s stated goal to re-invigorate squadron-level decision making and responsibility. Goldfein stated in a letter to all Airmen, dated Aug. 9, 2016, during his first month as CSAF: “The squadron is the beating heart of the United States Air Force; our most essential team.” Many challenges have degraded, over time, the core fighting unit of the Air Force, according to Goldfein. “Revitalizing squadrons as the core fighting unit in our Air Force will be the primary focus in my first year as your Chief.”

Several squadron-level operators, like 1st Lt. Kyle Palko, operations analyst at the HCIC, briefed Rowland during his visit. Palko develops computer models to predict how adversaries will react to U.S. actions.

“NASIC really is the gold standard for research into what our potential enemies can do,” said Palko. “Hearing from their chief scientist, and hearing how much he values the input of the squadron-level Airmen, was eye-opening.”

Rowland’s visit focused on the nexus of intelligence gathering and development of tactics that will counter adversary developments. According to Rowland, the proliferation of advanced weapon systems poses a rapidly evolving threat, which Airmen must be prepared to defeat.  

"This is a great opportunity for NASIC to access the advanced technology and innovation happening here at Hanscom,” said Air Force Reserve Maj. Alexis Presti-Simpson, chief of NASIC’s Future Disruptive Technologies Flight, who coordinated the visit. “Venture tech start-ups in New England are at the cutting edge of tech development, and Hanscom is uniquely positioned to identify new technologies for the intelligence community.”

Intelligence development is an ongoing focus item for personnel here.

NASIC is our first stop in obtaining information on adversary capabilities to inform Hanscom’s acquisition programs,” said Joseph Pridotkas, director, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center-Hanscom Intelligence Division. “For many of Hanscom’s $29 billion in acquisition programs, NASIC and the other intelligence agencies play a key role in providing insight to how the programs will be affected by adversary capabilities. We cannot provide the tools used for successful, sustainable air dominance without their help.” 

In addition to the information exchanged at Hanscom, Rowland’s tour included a stop at DIUx’s offices in Cambridge. DIUx works to pair problems faced by forward-operating ground troops with solutions in the private industry. Their $43 million portfolio is dedicated to working outside of the normal acquisition process to bring technology to the front line, which the Department of Defense wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to procure in a timely manner.

“It was clear from meeting with the DIUx team that we’re going to be able to work together,” said Rowland. “The issues our intelligence community faces must be addressed quickly with reliable solutions. I think DIUx can help us immensely there.”