From keeping an eye on the Chinese border disputes to watching Russian troop locations in the Ukraine, two agencies that hide in more shadows than the CIA, are becoming the unsung heroes in intelligence gathering for U.S. Agencies.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), two of the lesser-known members of the U.S. intelligence community, are not usually the first agencies that come to mind when you think of gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence. Over the past 40 years, the U.S. intelligence community has grown and changed to reflect growing threats and the obstacles faced regarding global threats.

Impact of NRO and NGA

Why now? What is so special about the NRO and NGA? Recent disputes, such as the war in Ukraine, are showing top officials and the world that these lesser-known agencies can make big impacts on intelligence gathering.


According to its website, NGA is dedicated to delivering world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, military service members, intelligence professionals, and first responders.

The NGA enables critical actions and shapes decisions that impact our world through geospatial intelligence. The NGA is a combination of an intelligence agency and a combat support agency. The NGA enables the U.S. intelligence community and the Department of Defense to fulfill the president’s national security priorities to protect the nation.


The NRO develops and operates the world’s most capable and innovative overhead reconnaissance systems to collect intelligence for U.S. national security and to support disaster relief and humanitarian efforts.

To boil it down, the NRO builds and operates satellites and ground stations which it uses to collect imagery and signal intelligence to support the intelligence community’s efforts. The NGA uses those same satellites to gather and analyze geospatial intelligence to support the intelligence community’s efforts.

Agencies Working Together

The NGA and the NRO’s efforts are very much aligned, but the data they gather is very different, but complement each other and is invaluable to the intelligence community.

The NGA operates some of the most advanced facial recognition software on the planet. It can conduct human-pattern analysis and even measure the gait and body size of an individual. The NGA is also capable of all-weather imagery analysis, relying on hyper-spectral and multispectral sensors mounted on satellites and unmanned aerial systems.

The NGA has even played a vital role in key missions, such as the mission to capture Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. Analysts from the NGA worked with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, to map the compound where Bin Laden was hiding.

Both the NGA and the NRO have vital roles to play in the intelligence community and beyond.

Find a Job with NGA and NRO

Recently, the NGA launched the National GEOINT Operations Center in Springfield, VA. The Center has multiple watch teams to keep watch and provide time-critical decision advantage. Both agencies are hiring for many positions if you are interested in breaking into the intelligence community where the ‘rubber-meets-the-road’.

The NGA is looking for GEOINT Capabilities Integration Officer, Program Managers, Maritime Analysts, and more; all based out of Springfield, VA.

The NRO is also looking to hire. Most jobs are located in Chantilly, VA. Positions include Acquisition Program Manager, Capability Development & Integration Lead, IT Specialist, a few Systems Engineers, and more.

You will need to be able to obtain and maintain a Top Secret/Secret Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearance to qualify for most of the positions.


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Aaron Knowles has been writing news for more than 10 years, mostly working for the U.S. Military. He has traveled the world writing sports, gaming, technology and politics. Now a retired U.S. Service Member, he continues to serve the Military Community through his non-profit work.