SOUTHCOM looks to non-traditional information sharing

The U.S. Southern Command's commander wants to use non-traditional ways to achieve the intelligence capabilities required in South America.

The U.S. Southern Command’s mission is different from other military commands. With an area of responsibility that encompasses Çentral and South America, the command deals with natural disasters, narco-terrorism and illegal trafficking that require non-traditional intelligence, according to SOUTHCOM Commander Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser.

“These issues we deal with [at SOUTHCOM] won’t be solved bilaterally, and they won’t be solved in a [Defense Department] area. It has to be interagency and it has to be international. And the only way we’re going to be able to work that is by figuring out how to share all the multitudes of information that’s there,” Fraser said Oct. 18 at the GEOINT Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

SOUTHCOM’s solutions must fit its atypical requirements, he said.

“We’re looking for non-traditional solutions. We have to be able to share information with our partners. We have to build trust,” he said. “There is one commodity we all have in abundance, and that commodity is information. But we don’t have the tools – we don’t necessarily have a way we can share that information on a routine basis and help build awareness and help build trust. That’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

He said budgetary issues limit SOUTHCOM’s acquisition of high-tech ISR, and bandwidth limitations can be a problem for sharing information across networks, particularly in instances like natural disasters where connectivity is difficult.

“We look at all these systems…they’re data hogs and they’re bandwidth hogs. When you have a natural disaster and everybody wants to get on board, you clog the system. So we have to find solutions that allow us to manage that bandwidth a lot more efficiently,” he said.

Fraser said the top priority is sharing information across various partnerships, systems, capabilities and organizations.

“There is a lot of information out there that we’re not taking advantage of, in a lot of different realms, with a lot of different partners,” he said. “We look at all our capabilities – ISR capabilities, all of our technical platforms – the one thing we lack is the ability to share that information easily with our partners. We need to be able to share it and we need to be able to build trust. And we need to be doing it on a more routine basis.”