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Intelligence Community Working Group Essay

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Updated: Dec 24th, 2020

Introduction

Biotechnology is a rapidly developing branch of science, which is aimed to improve the quality of life. However, innovations in this field can become a threat because they can be used as weapons of biological attacks. Intentional use of pathogenic organisms as weapons of mass destruction can cause harm to people, and the economy and the worst possible outcomes are the death of people and destruction of the country’s economy. Bioterrorism is a serious crime that can lead to irreparable consequences. Therefore, it is crucial for the United States government to update the existing national biodefense strategy frequently.

Nevertheless, a potential biological attack is one of the hardest terroristic events to predict. It is easy to trace a cybercriminal as there is a “digital” footprint” left, but when naturally occurring biological agents become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, it can be challenging to detect and distinguish a dangerous intentional use (Walsh, 2015). As a result, the work of Intelligence needs to be more thorough in order to get adequate assessment and analysis of the current biothreat situation.

The introduction of an Intelligence Community Working Group to support the National Biodefense Strategy is a necessary measure. The reason is that it will provide better communication between different structures contributing to biodefense by allowing them to work closely together. This can result in a collection of more valuable information, its better assessment and analysis, which, in its turn, will lead to higher levels of security. To achieve this goal, it is crucial to choose specific departments that will have the most significant impact in preventing biological attacks.

Main Body

One of the main goals of the Working Group is to prevent bioterrorism. Thus, the National Counterterrorism Center, which collects, analyzes and stores information about terrorist activity and uses it to avoid possible threats, should be a part of the group. Furthermore, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate would have a significant contribution to the Group as it has all the resources to detect, restrain and stop biological attacks. It is also essential to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a member of the Intelligence Community Working Group as it focuses on controlling and prevention of diseases.

Application of advances in science and technology in the Intelligence Services are critical. Therefore, the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science and Technology could be an important part of the Working Group. Methods of intelligence gathering should continuously evolve in order to provide and analyze useful and accurate information faster. The United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command should also be included in the group as its research work could help in battling biological pathogens, which is especially significant to the army.

Assessment and correct interpretation of biological threats from non-state actors require a high quality of communication between different departments. Nonetheless, data incorporation is one of the soft spots of biosurveillance. Armstrong, et al. (2014) state that these problems are caused by a “lack of trust between agencies” (p.7). Reluctance to share information can result in failure to provide a sufficient level of safety to the country.

On the other hand, some departments have developed a good connection through launching joint programs and cooperation in solving mutual problems. However, this leads to the development of separate partnerships that only have interaction within the group. Furthermore, according to Armstrong et al. (2014), agencies hesitate to provide information to other departments because they “fear that misinterpreted results will generate false reports” (p.6). Thus, as a result of the absence of generalized principles of data collection and analysis the information shared can be misleading.

Biodefense has become one of the key fields of the federal funding. There is a disparity in money distribution that has developed as more financial support is invested in human health than in agricultural biodefense research and development (Gerstein, 2017). Nevertheless, the funding cannot be efficient because there is no clear structure within biodefense. Many departments work on their own and no stated leader that would manage them all. To solve this problem, the government could appoint a chief department and create a centralized biodefense system.

Intelligence should be able to provide sufficient information about terroristic groups, such as participants, the source of financial support and location. Gathering this information allows developing a prevention strategy. Possible methods that can be used by the Intelligence Community to provide warning of the biothreats include limitation or violation of their finances and supply and creation of emergency plans (Parker, 2013). Such data, collected by Intelligence, helps to decrease the possibility of the attack as it helps to eliminate the terrorists, cut their finances and disrupt supplies of biological weapons.

As mentioned above, new technologies can make the intelligence process easier and faster. Thus, they can improve the quantity and quality of the collected and analyzed information. The development of artificial intelligence has helped to decrease the time needed to search for something specific for ordinary users. Intelligence services can use it to collect data as there is no human error, which results in an elimination of missed fragments of information.

Moreover, cloud-based access to files can facilitate the communication between different agencies that take part in the National Biodefense Strategy. Joint data storage will make the process of sharing findings and other information much easier and faster. With the improved connection between the agencies and a better process of intelligence service, there will be a higher chance to prevent and warn possible bioterrorism.

Furthermore, the cloud allows storing large amounts of information without having to set up a server room to keep data, which reduces the cost of storage. Another significant advantage of the cloud is that it contributes to keeping the information safe as it is stored online and has no material carrier. Therefore, there can be no physical damage made that would cause corruption of files.

Big data analytics helps to process more information, find patterns and useful details. There is a variety of software that helps to conduct the analysis, they are separate, but their high integration allows them to give the necessary result. It has a significant contribution in increasing speed and efficiency of data analysis. With regards to using by Intelligence Community, big data analytics would facilitate immediate assessment of obtained information and allow making faster real-time decisions.

Field-deployable rapid multiple biosensing systems can be used for quick determination of dangerous agents. Saito, et al. (2018) state that “an operation time of only 5–15 min is needed for the collection and detection” (p. 1). Recognition and treatment of illness at early stages results in the milder course of the disease, prevention of an epidemic and reduces the possibility of lethal outcomes. In addition, a biosensing system can be used in intelligence as they do not require following long procedures and a presence of a scientist to determine toxins. This will allow conducting suitable actions that will decrease the damage caused by biological weapons.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the introduction of the Intelligence Community Working Group could be the right decision to make concerning the development of the National Biodefense Strategy. The Working Group would help in solving some problems that exist in the Intelligence Community and biodefense in general. Firstly, it will partially resolve communicational issues within the departments that are connected to biodefense and Intelligence. Secondly, new technologies that can be introduced to the methods used by the Working will improve the quality and performance of data analysis. Thus, the development of prevention and preparedness plans will be at a higher level.

Additionally, the designation of a leading department could be a solution to other problems. As the field of biodefense is decentralized, it is hard for the parties to connect and communicate with each other. However, a leader could bring them together and organize their cooperation. This can also be achieved by the preparation and introduction of a set of standards of processing the information that is gathered by the agencies.

If all of the biodefense program members followed the same instructions when they collect, analyze and assess data, then it would be easier to share and interpret the results of investigations and Intelligence. Prevention of biological attacks or detection of them at early stages is an important position in the policy of the United States. Therefore, the Intelligence Community Working Group is a necessary tool that will facilitate and support the National Biodefense Strategy.

References

Armstrong I., et al. (2014). . Web.

Gerstein D.M. (2017). Federal Research and Development for Agricultural Biodefense. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation

Parker L. (2013). Bioterrorism and Intelligence. Global Security Studies 4(3), 53-63. Web.

Saito M., et al. (2018). . Microsystems & Nanoengineering, 4(17083), 1-11. Web.

Walsh P.F. (2014). Managing Intelligence and Responding to Emerging Threats: The Case of Biosecurity. In Gill M. (eds), The Handbook of Security (pp. 837-856). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Intelligence Community Working Group." December 24, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/intelligence-community-working-group/.

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