‘Expectations of NGA are high’ as agency participates in first Senate threat assessment hearing

Story by Erica J. Fouché, NGA Office of Corporate Communications
Photos by Erica J. Knight, NGA Office of Corporate Communications

Since 1995, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has met in an open forum with intelligence community leaders to receive the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. The difference this year? National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo was also asked to participate, a first for the agency.

Cardillo joined Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and Acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe in reviewing and highlighting the various threats faced by the nation at the May 11 open hearing in Washington, D.C.

SSCI Chairman Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, highlighted NGA’s crucial position at the nexus of innovation, data collection and analysis in his opening statement.

“Given the complexity of the intelligence questions the IC is being confronted with and the global nature of our national security threats that this country faces — expectations of NGA are high,” said Burr. “We know the IC can’t be everywhere at once, but that’s still kind of what we look to the NGA to do.”

While this year’s assessment focused heavily on the recent removal of former FBI Director James Comey, there were plenty of questions on pressing global threats like North Korea, Russia, cyber warfare and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

NGA was recognized by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri for its commitment to leveraging classified and open source intelligence and leading an unprecedented partnership with local communities by hosting hackathons across the country.

“We’re trying to take the historic success of our expertise and our experience and then engage with that community in a way that we can better leverage our data in a way to inform and warn you,” said Cardillo. “I’m trying to tap into the agility and the innovation of that community.”

When discussing current threats in the South China Sea, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California shared her appreciation for the “solid” information NGA has provided the committee.

“It is time for the American people to begin to understand that … we do in fact have an existential threat in the Pacific Ocean and we need to come to grips with it,” said Feinstein.

Many of the senators thanked the men and women who serve in the intelligence community.

“These thousands of dedicated intelligence professionals, toil in the shadows, put their lives on the line and make sacrifices most of us will never know in order to keep our country safe,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. “I appreciate their efforts and am proud to represent them.”

This year’s SSCI Threat Assessment follows Cardillo’s SSCI open hearing last fall, another first for the agency.

Watch the full May 11 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community Open Hearing

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About NGA: The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency delivers world-class geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, that provides a decisive advantage to warfighters, policymakers, intelligence professionals and first responders. Both an intelligence agency and combat support agency, NGA fulfills the president’s national security priorities in partnership with the intelligence community and the Department of Defense.