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American Forces Press Service

NGA Receives Third Joint Meritorious Unit Award

By Kathi Ghannam
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

SPRINGFIELD, Va., Jan. 12, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter presented the Joint Meritorious Unit Award to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency during a ceremony at the organization's headquarters here yesterday.

NGA Director Letitia A. Long accepted the award from Carter on behalf of her workforce before a standing-room only audience.

According to the award citation, NGA's dedicated and professional intelligence support to the nation helped to achieve national objectives by skillfully shaping how geospatial intelligence was applied to a broad spectrum of challenges.

'Between 2008-2010," Carter said, "NGA was a constant source of innovation, aiding our efforts in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations using new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors and technologies, and analytic methods including full-motion video, hyperspectral imagery, overhead persistent infrared, and light detection and ranging."

During the surge and the drawdown in Iraq, NGA deployed more than 2,200 personnel, providing direct support at more than 200 locations in 17 countries, Carter said.

"These were all personnel who volunteered to serve overseas, facing the realities of combat up close,' he said. 'I especially want to thank them.'

Carter also praised NGA for its instrumental role in the May 2, 2011, covert operation that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden.

'Without the methodical research, imagery, and mapping by the men and women at NGA," he said, "the SEAL team would not have been prepared to descend on that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.'

Carter said such achievements only tell part of NGA's story.

'Every single Navy vessel navigates the seas and into foreign ports by charts provided by NGA," he said. "Air Force jets are able to place precision bombs directly on target from data provided by NGA analysts. Soldiers and Marines gain insight into what is on the other side of that mountain from your reporting. Simply put, NGA provides crucial support to every single Department of Defense mission today.'

Carter then highlighted the most-notable portion of the award citation.

''NGA's success on the battlefield in all phases of operations prompted many tactical commanders to declare that they would never go to war without NGA,'' Carter read from the citation.

'This is the highest compliment you could ever receive,' he told NGA's the assembled workforce.

Carter concluded his remarks by challenging NGA to set its sights on earning a fourth JMUA, a goal which Long seconded.

In addition to extending her thanks to the entire NGA workforce, Long recognized several people for their leadership and support of NGA during the award period, to include Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was in the audience, Under Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers, former NGA Director Robert Murrett, and former Deputy Director Lloyd Rowland.

'I can say with pride that in this time period every NGA employee played an important role in NGA's support to the warfighter and the department and the nation,' Long said. 'It was an unprecedented period of rapid expansion of our expeditionary support as we helped wage two wars.

"At the same time," she added, "we continued to support the warfighter and intelligence operators with our dedicated efforts in global counterterrorism, counterproliferation, mission readiness, safety of navigation, future weapons development, and humanitarian assistance."

Long assured Carter that NGA will continue to deliver the highest quality products to the Department of Defense.

The Joint Meritorious Unit Award is presented to organizations in recognition of outstanding achievements performed during periods of war, international tension, national emergencies or extraordinary situations that involve national interests. The award recognizes the combined efforts of every member of an organization and authorizes all civilian and military personnel assigned to NGA during that timeframe to wear the JMUA lapel pin and ribbon.

The JMUA was established in 1981 by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and is the organizational equivalent to the individual Defense Superior Service Medal.

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