Model Making Plays a Dynamic Role in Supporting Intelligence
Nearly 70 years ago, American World War II pilots carried model replicas of enemy positions on their laps during combat. Today, intelligence models of all shapes, sizes, mediums and scenarios remain a key resource for CIA officers as they tackle diverse and complicated national security threats.
“The geo-intelligence technology available today allows us to convey and clarify information critical to CIA’s mission,” said John, a senior model maker working at the CIA. “We certainly don’t develop the same kind of models that were created during World War II, but the art and creativity of model making remains a focal point of our work.”
Models Have Diverse Usage
In today’s technologically advanced world, the Intelligence Community (IC) is using models in a wide range of situations:
- Intelligence analysts use models to more effectively brief U.S. policymakers about complex issues.
- Models are used for training exercises to ensure the team members are prepared for all possible scenarios. Three dimensional models of terrain make complex situations easily understood regardless of an individual’s background, language or educational level.
- Following operations, intelligence officers may use models to record lessons learned and key takeaways.
- Models are also essential tools for research and development. For example, for a collection system in the design phase, the creation of a model can be the difference between a new product surviving the early stages of development or being scrapped altogether. The technical parameters involved in designing collection systems are extremely complex and models help break this barrier by displaying a clear picture of its use, function and capabilities.
Challenges Facing Model Makers
Model makers face a variety of challenges in their work, such as tight deadlines, incomplete data and rapidly changing priorities. “One day, we might be creating a model for a training exercise and all of the sudden, the next morning we have to change the subject all together and work on satellite,” said Tom, a model maker at the CIA. “You have to be adaptable to make it in our line of business.”
Model making is dynamic work that continues to evolve and play an important role in protecting national security.
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