The Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre: Bringing innovation into intelligence

Military members stand in a hallway and unveil a sign that reads “Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre / Centre de renseignement de ciblage interarmées”.
General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, and Lieutenant-General Michael Rouleau, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) reveal the new crest of the Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre at the Star Top building in Ottawa, Ontario, on October 31, 2018. Photo Credit: Able Seaman Anne-Marie Brisson, Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) Imaging Services,© 2018 DND-MDN Canada

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By Dawnieca Palma, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

Long-term success in operations hinges on many factors. But among the most important of these factors is innovation, the renewal of methods and introduction of ideas. The Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre (JTIC) is a recent example of innovation in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

On October 31, 2018, the JTIC was officially unveiled at the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) Headquarters in a ceremony presided over by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance. The ceremony marked a milestone in intelligence efficiency and technology’s role in intelligence for joint operations.

“We need to bring targeting concretely and permanently in the Armed Forces,” General Vance explained at the opening ceremony. “It’s not just the process of getting effects on a target or an outcome. There’s more to it. Militaries around the world, including ours, will abandon current planning processes that are slow, that are counterintuitive, that require too much staff work and have an inefficient link between intelligence and operational doctrine.”

Targeting is the process of prioritizing targets on operations in order to select responses to them. Essentially, the JTIC is a basic-to-intermediate deliberate target development entity that facilitates targeting in support of deployed CJOC and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command elements, enhancing current target intelligence methods by centralising intelligence capabilities in Canada.

“Traditionally, we had to deploy to do all this,” explains Lieutenant-Colonel Kristopher Purdy, the Director of the JTIC. “The way intelligence was organized in Canada didn’t centralize mutually-supportive capabilities required for target discovery and development. For example, you’d have your all-source analysts sitting in one place, your geospatial intelligence folks in another. And they would only come together when deployed. Now we’ve brought these single-source intelligences together in a single centre in Canada. It’s fusion at its finest.”

This reorganization improves the CAF’s approach to targeting substantially and increases efficiency. Now, targets can be provided ahead of a deployment for a mission.  Additionally, the JTIC is also able to support multiple intelligence initiatives, including cyber. Notably, the question of integrating technology has been considered heavily.

As it grows, the JTIC aspires to apply technology in new ways. “We’re putting an innovation bubble around the JTIC,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Purdy “And what’s required in order to do that really is asking questions like ‘how do we integrate artificial intelligence’, or ‘how do we automate the analysis of this unstructured data’. We’re playing with some new tools to help us do that.”

Although mostly comprised of intelligence officers and operators, the JTIC welcomes a diverse skillset. There are geomatics technicians to offer visualisation for the ground, gunners and engineers analyzing full-motion video feeds, and civilian public servants and contractors providing a wide range of expertise. After a deployment on Operation IMPACT working in intelligence, Sergeant Chris Busche currently works on one of JTIC’s mission teams. “We’re generating products on a pretty rapid turn-around that we can immediately hand-off to the required parties and they can make a decision based on that. We’re generating actionable stuff and handing it off so it can be actioned in a timely manner,” he sums up.

He finds the JTIC not only beneficial to operations, but to his development as an intelligence operator. “It’s a mix of all groups. I find it’s really useful for here and elsewhere in my career to have the opportunity to interact with people outside the intelligence bubble. You have those outside perspectives and you can avoid that groupthink that we sometimes generate if we’re all from the same background and same experience.”

As General Vance stated, the JTIC’s objective is only a building block in CAF intelligence. “This is the beginning of a fundamental change of how military operations are conducted. We’re going to look at our activities through the lens of multiple domains and arrive at an intelligence-led certainty of what we want to get done.”

Image gallery

  • Two military officers speak to a group of military members. They stand in front of a sign that reads “Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre / Centre de renseignement de ciblage interarmées”.
  • The Chief of the Defence Staff speaks in front of a group of military members.
  • Crest of the Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre.
  • Military members stand in a hallway and unveil a sign that reads “Joint Targeting Intelligence Centre / Centre de renseignement de ciblage interarmées”.
  • The Chief of the Defence Staff speaks in front of a group of military members.
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