In addition to crafting policy and managing national security defense officials also spend a great deal of time out on the conference circuit, justifying those policy and national security decisions. The purpose is two-fold, make the case to Congress and key stakeholders and be responsibly transparent to the American public.

The Geospatial Intelligence Symposium took place in Orlando this week and among the speakers was Michael G. Vickers, undersecretary of intelligence.

Vickers noted that he had four priorities when he started in 2011, and he’s since added a fifth – his new top five priorities include:

— Operationally dismantle and strategically defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates;

— Set conditions for a successful security transition in Afghanistan;

— Prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, principally, but not exclusively, in Iran and North Korea;

— Defend the nation against cyber threats;

— Enabling the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and shaping the political transitions that are under way across the Arab world in ways supportive of U.S. interests.

Vickers emphasized the role and requirement for intel innovation in accomplishing his priorities, and noted the increased prevalence of geospatial technology within the intelligence community. Spurned by the use of unmanned aircraft such as the Raptor and Predator, geospatial intelligence will only increase in significance as both platforms and the architecture that supports them improve, noted Vickers.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted DoD’s rules in cyberspace at a speech to Business Executives for National Security in New York.

“A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” Panetta said. “Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation.”

Panetta emphasized that DoD has a supporting role in cybersecurity with the Department of Homeland Security acting as the lead federal agency. That said, DoD has an important role in defending its own networks, and improving its capacity to detect and deter attacks. Panetta had strong words considering the action the U.S. military was willing and capable of taking if cyber threats seem to pose immediate physical implications.

“If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant physical destruction or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action to defend the nation when directed by the President,” Panetta said. “For these kinds of scenarios, the Department has developed the capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests in cyberspace.”

Panetta said DoD was working on rules of engagement that would outline military courses of action in the event of a cyber attack, similar to existing guidance which already exists for traditional conflicts.

Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer