March 31, 2013
Yesterday I posted a U.S. Army piece about a counter-IED intelligence reporting system called RED DOT. Thanks to my friend Jeff Richelson, I have since learned that all of the intelligence data feeding into RED DOT about Taliban IED team activities and device locations comes from signals intelligence (SIGINT) derived from National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) electronic eavesdropping satellites parked in geosynchronous orbit over the Earth.
This is confirmed in testimony by a senior NRO official before the House Armed Services Committee back in March 2011. According to the official, Betty Sapp, who is now the head of the NRO, RED DOT was first deployed in Iraq after being being developed in less than a year, and was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011.
According to a September 2011 interview with the then head of NRO, Bruce A. Carlson, RED DOT was made possible by the fact that the unique electronic signatures of Taliban IEDs could be intercepted and pinpointed by NRO SIGINT satellites operating 22,000 miles above the Earth. According to Carlson, RED DOT “pinpoints the signals emitted by roadside bombs set for electronic detonation… We do a lot of work to make sure that we know what those signals are, where they’re coming from, and geolocate them… I can’t tell you exactly how we do that, but it’s a pretty clever set of technologies.”
Carlson went on to confirm that RED DOT had been operational for about six months (March 2011), and that the data generated by the system had, as of September 2011, been proven to be ”80 percent effective.”
This is all very interesting because I did not think it possible for SIGINT satellites to be able to intercept and geolocate the low-power electronic emissions of Taliban IEDs from 22,000 miles up in space. I never cease to be amazed by the technological advances that have taken place over the past decade in the U.S. intelligence community.
- matthewaid posted this