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Subject:      Spysat industrial base in decline?
From:         thomsona@netcom.com (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1995/10/12
Message-Id:   <thomsonaDGCHxt.EK8@netcom.com>
Newsgroups:   sci.space.policy,alt.war,alt.politics.org.cia

   U.S. Spy Industry's Contraction May Cause Technology Slip
   by Pat Cooper
   Defense News, 1-8 October 1995, p.25
      U.S. intelligence-gathering capabilities face certain decline 
   unless the government steps in to stop the steady erosion of the 
   industrial base that supports eavesdropping. The technological 
   capabilities of the intelligence community could be lost and 
   never recovered... The intelligence industrial base is 
   contracting alarmingly faster than the rest of the defense 
   industrial base, Robert Kohler, executive vice president and 
   general manager of TRW Avionics & Surveillance Group, San Diego, 
   said Sept. 22.  Before joining the company, Kohler directed the 
   CIA Office of Development and Engineering, which develops 
   intelligence-collection technologies. 
      More than 75 percent of the intelligence industry base has been 
   eliminated since 1990, compared with about 20 percent for the 
   rest of the defense base, Kohler said. 
      [According to Kohler,] Without sophisticated technology, such 
   as spy satellites... and the ability to eavesdrop on potential 
   aggressors...the U.S. intelligence cannot function. Commercial 
   products cannot supply most of these capabilities.
      To save the industrial base, Kohler is urging a drastic increase 
   in government research and development funding for spy agencies. 
   In particular, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) should 
   plow half of its annual budget into developing new technologies, 
   Kohler said. 
   Several items in this article strike me as being rather 
strange, unreallistic or at least in need of substantiation. 
   What in the world does he mean by the statement that more than 
75% of the intelligence industry base has been eliminated since 
1990? Is this reflected in any other information about the 
fortunes of TRW, LockMart, E-Systems etc.?  How does this square 
with the funding profiles which have been leaked and inferred, or 
with the apparently expensive "recapitalization" plan for 
   The assertion that commercial products cannot supply 
intelligence capabilities seems specious.  Optical and radar 
imaging are pretty well in hand in the non-intel world, and signs 
are that they will be further developed by the new imagery 
providers.  SIGINT draws on much the same technological base as 
communications satellites, and that's an area which is thriving. 
Moreover, there can be a lot of technological commonality between 
the sensors on airbreathing (particularly UAV) and satellite 
systems, so it's not as if even "purely military" technologies 
will go unfunded. 
   I suspect that what Kohler means is that the commercial world 
isn't going to come up with KH-11/8Xs and Magnum/Orions -- and in 
that he's probably right.  The thing left unsaid, and which he may 
not even recognize, is that such monstersats are not particularly 
suited to the military and national intelligence requirements of 
today.  Having to procure capability in a wider market rather 
than specific hardware in the NRO's closed world would probably 
be the best thing that could happen to the reconnaissance 
   Finally, it seems that Kohler hasn't been reading the 
newspapers these past few years.  If he had, he sure wouldn't be 
suggesting, presumably with a straight face, that the NRO spend 
half its budget on R&D.  Even if the money were available, one of 
the major substantive complaints about the way military space has 
been handled is precisely that it tended to be more R&Dish than 
operational in its priorities. 
   All in all, I think what we have here is the plaintive voice 
of a dinosaur bemoaning the onset of cold weather and fantasizing 
about a return to the balmy past. It ain't gonna happen, and 
that's a very good thing (if you're a mammal, that is). 

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