Synopsis: Dr. Peter Bythrow, MASINT Chief Scientist at DIA, spoke on the question: “On the future of MASINT: independence or annexation?”. To provide a basis for his discussion, MASINT was defined as a measurement and signature intelligence branch which serves to detect, track, identify or describe the signatures (distinctive characteristics) of fix or dynamic target sources. This often includes radar intelligence, acoustic intelligence, nuclear intelligence and chemical and biological intelligence. Dr. Bythrow made sure the audience understood that MASINT is made up of six major disciplines, but the disciplines overlap and intertwine. Also, although within the Intelligence Community the Directorate of Science and Technology of DIA is the central agency for MASINT, other agencies such as CIA, NSA, and NRO also have MASINT programs. Thus, it is very difficult for MASINT to be considered independent because of its dependence on support from other areas for its outcomes and funding due to the perception of duplications. For MASINT to survive in the future, Dr. Bythrow said management must improve, motivation for MASINT must be made, and funding must increase.
Dr. Bythrow stressed the following points:
1. Strong support is needed from the GDIP because for a decade MASINT has not received sufficient support needed to maintain and increase capabilities to meet future threats.
2. The Functional Manager, the Director of DIA, must lead the fight on the hill to obtain the needed support and explain what additional MASINT funding will provide in terms of increased capability.
3. The Functional Manager of MASINT must give it a prominent role, and DIA should be able to determine what other agencies are doing that is really MASINT but not called that?
4. Efforts to inform policy and decision makers on the unique capabilities of MASINT must be made. For example, MASINT is the only capability that can tell if a nuclear event has occurred.
5. Funding is needed to develop new equipment and techniques to counter future threats and cover new areas such as Africa and China. As and example, he discussed a new threat weapon system, a hypersonic glide vehicle- with speed and flight capabilities that could not be detected with our present collection system.
BIO: Dr. Bythrow is the MASINT Chief Scientist at DIA/National MASINT Office. Before assuming his present position in 2000, he was the Principle Staff Scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physical Laboratory from 1981 to 2000. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physic from the University of Texas in Dallas in 1981 and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physic from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in 1970. He served as a pilot in the United States Air Force from 1970 to1975 and has been an aerobatic flight instructor since 1992.
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