The 'Gem of the IC': Sandra Auchter Discusses Role of Denver-based ADF-C!

September 27 to 28, 2022 Aurora, CO


Event recap courtesy of Avantus!


Sandra Auchter, Director of NGA’s Denver site, emphasized the importance of interagency collaboration to an audience of government and industry intelligence experts at INSA's September 27, Common Threads Colorado program at the Gaylord Rockies Resort. Auchter heads the NGA component at the Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado (ADF-C), a multi-mission ground station that hosts experts from NGA, NRO, and NSA and the private companies that support them. 

Noting that crises breed purpose and focus, she stated that ADF-C’s focus was motivated by the post-9/11 drive to foster collaboration and information-sharing across the Intelligence Community.  ADF-C, which Auchter called “a gem of the Intelligence Community,” facilitates mission integration on critical national security issues. 

Co-location of experts and leaders from NGA, NRO, and NSA, as well as the U.S. Space Force, enables agencies to work together in ways that are not possible in Washington, where officials are spread out in headquarters facilities throughout the National Capital Region. Auchter highlighted the importance of both technology and people to the IC’s missions.  Advanced technologies, including AI/ML and automation, will be essential to manage the large amounts of data that the IC collects and to provide analysis at the speed needed by both strategic decisionmakers and tactical military commanders. Citing NGA’s rapidly growing use of commercial GEOINT capabilities, she noted that new technologies can push the IC to evolve in ways that are more effective and more efficient.

However, cutting-edge technologies can only be so effective, Auchter noted, without skilled staff.  To provide nuanced interpretations of data-driven insights, IC agencies need a workforce with advanced expertise and skillsets. By assembling experts from multiple agencies at a single facility, ADF-C brings the entire GEOINT ecosystem to bear on the nation’s toughest intelligence challenges.