Seal of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
NGA Campus East, headquarters of the agency; the building features trapezoidal windows, color-coded interior sections, and is bisected by an atrium that is large enough to hold the Statue of Liberty
|Formed||October 1, 1996(as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency)|
|Jurisdiction||U.S. Department of Defense|
|Headquarters||Fort Belvoir, Virginia, U.S.|
|Motto||"Know the Earth... Show the Way... Understand the World"|
|Annual budget||Classified (at least $4.9 billion, as of 2013)|
|Parent agency||Department of Defense|
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense and a member of the United States Intelligence Community, with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security. NGA was known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) from 1996 to 2003.
NGA headquarters, also known as NGA Campus East or NCE, is located at Fort Belvoir North Area in Springfield, Virginia. The agency also operates major facilities in the St. Louis, Missouri area (referred to as NGA Campus West or NCW), as well as support and liaison offices worldwide. The NGA headquarters, at 2.3 million square feet (214,000 m2), is the third-largest government building in the Washington metropolitan area after The Pentagon and the Ronald Reagan Building.
In addition to using GEOINT for U.S. military and intelligence efforts, NGA provides assistance during natural and man-made disasters, and security planning for major events such as the Olympic Games.
In September 2018, NGA researchers released a high resolution terrain map (detail down to the size of a car, and less in some areas) of Antarctica, named the "Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica" (REMA).
U.S. mapping and charting efforts remained relatively unchanged until World War I, when aerial photography became a major contributor to battlefield intelligence. Using stereo viewers, photo-interpreters reviewed thousands of images. Many of these were of the same target at different angles and times, giving rise to what became modern imagery analysis and mapmaking.
The Engineer Reproduction Plant was the Army Corps of Engineers's first attempt to centralize mapping production, printing, and distribution.[when?] It was located on the grounds of the Army War College in Washington, D.C. Previously, topographic mapping had largely been a function of individual field engineer units using field surveying techniques or copying existing or captured products. In addition, ERP assumed the "supervision and maintenance" of the War Department Map Collection, effective April 1, 1939.
With the advent of the Second World War aviation, field surveys began giving way to photogrammetry, photo interpretation, and geodesy. During wartime, it became increasingly possible to compile maps with minimal field work. Out of this emerged AMS, which absorbed the existing ERP in May 1942. It was located at the Dalecarlia Site (including buildings now named for John C. Frémont and Charles H. Ruth) on MacArthur Blvd., just outside Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County, Maryland, and adjacent to the Dalecarlia Reservoir. AMS was designated as an Engineer field activity, effective July 1, 1942, by General Order 22, OCE, June 19, 1942. The Army Map Service also combined many of the Army's remaining geographic intelligence organizations and the Engineer Technical Intelligence Division. AMS was redesignated the U.S. Army Topographic Command (USATC) on September 1, 1968, and continued as an independent organization until 1972, when it was merged into the new Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) and redesignated as the DMA Topographic Center (DMATC) (see below).
After the war, as airplane capacity and range improved, the need for charts grew. The Army Air Corps established its map unit, which was renamed ACP in 1943 and was located in St. Louis, Missouri. ACP was known as the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC) from 1952 to 1972 (See DMAAC below).
Shortly before leaving office in January 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the creation of the National Photographic Interpretation Center, a joint project of the CIA and US DoD. NPIC was a component of the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology (DDS&T) and its primary function was imagery analysis. NPIC became part of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (now NGA) in 1996.
NPIC first identified the Soviet Union's basing of missiles in Cuba in 1962. By exploiting images from U-2 overflights and film from canisters ejected by orbiting Corona (satellite)s, NPIC analysts developed the information necessary to inform U.S. policymakers and influence operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Their analysis garnered worldwide attention when the Kennedy Administration declassified and made public a portion of the images depicting the Soviet missiles on Cuban soil; Adlai Stevenson presented the images to the United Nations Security Council on October 25, 1962.
|Director||Term of office|
|Arthur C. Lundahl||May 1953 - July 1973|
|John J. Hicks||July 1973 - May 1978|
|Brigadier Gen. Rutledge P. Hazzard||June 1978 - February 1984|
|Robert M. Huffstutler||Feb 1984 - Jan 1988|
|Frank J. Ruocco||February 1988 - February 1991|
|Leo A. Hazlewood||February 1991 - September 1993|
|Nancy E. Bone||October 1993 - September 1996|
The Defense Mapping Agency was created on January 1, 1972, to consolidate all U.S. military mapping activities. DMA's "birth certificate", DoD Directive 5105.40, resulted from a formerly classified Presidential directive, "Organization and Management of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Community" (November 5, 1971), which directed the consolidation of mapping functions previously dispersed among the military services. DMA became operational on July 1, 1972, pursuant to General Order 3, DMA (June 16, 1972). On October 1, 1996, DMA was folded into the National Imagery and Mapping Agency - which later became NGA.
DMA was first headquartered at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C, then at Falls Church, Virginia. Its mostly civilian workforce was concentrated at production sites in Bethesda, Maryland, Northern Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. DMA was formed from the Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy Division, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and from various mapping-related organizations of the military services.
DMAHC was formed in 1972 when the Navy's Hydrographic Office split its two components: The charting component was attached to DMAHC, and the survey component moved to the Naval Oceanographic Office, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on the grounds of what is now the Stennis Space Center. DMAHC was responsible for creating terrestrial maps of coastal areas worldwide and hydrographic charts for DoD. DMAHC was initially located in Suitland, Maryland, but later relocated to Brookmont (Bethesda), Maryland.
DMATC was located in Brookmont (Bethesda), Maryland. It was responsible for creating topographic maps worldwide for DoD. DMATC's location in Bethesda, Maryland is the former site of NGA's headquarters.
DMAHC and DMATC eventually merged to form DMAHTC, with offices in Brookmont (Bethesda), Maryland.
DMAAC originated with the U.S. Air Force's Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC) and was located in St. Louis, Missouri.
NIMA was established on October 1, 1996, by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997. The creation of NIMA followed more than a year of study, debate, and planning by the defense, intelligence, and policy-making communities (as well as the Congress) and continuing consultations with customer organizations. The creation of NIMA centralized responsibility for imagery and mapping.
NIMA combined the DMA, the Central Imagery Office (CIO), and the Defense Dissemination Program Office (DDPO) in their entirety, and the mission and functions of the NPIC. Also merged into NIMA were the imagery exploitation, dissemination, and processing elements of the Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office.
NIMA's creation was clouded by the natural reluctance of cultures to merge and the fear that their respective missions--mapping in support of defense activities versus intelligence production, principally in support of national policymakers--would be subordinated, each to the other.
As a part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, all major Washington, D.C.-area NGA facilities, including those in Bethesda, Maryland; Reston, Virginia; and Washington, D.C., would be consolidated at a new facility at the Fort Belvoir proving grounds. This new facility, later known as NCE, houses several thousand people and is situated on the former Engineer Proving Ground site near Fort Belvoir. NGA facilities in St. Louis were not affected by the 2005 BRAC process.
The cost of the new center, as of March 2009, was expected to be $2.4 billion. The center's campus is approximately 2,400,000 square feet (220,000 m2) and was completed in September 2011.
NGA employs professionals in aeronautical analysis, cartography, geospatial analysis, imagery analysis, marine analysis, the physical sciences, geodesy, computer and telecommunication engineering, and photogrammetry, as well as those in the national security and law enforcement fields.
This table lists all Directors of the NIMA and NGA and their term of office.
|Term of Office||Director|
|1996-1998||Rear Admiral Joseph J. Dantone, US Navy, Acting Director|
|1998-2001||Lieutenant General James C. King, US Army|
|2001-2006||Lieutenant General James R. Clapper, USAF, Retired[note 1]|
|2006-2010||Vice Admiral (VADM) Robert B. Murrett, USN|
|2019-Present||Vice Admiral Robert D. Sharp, USN|
On February 22, 2010, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that Letitia Long would become director later that year, becoming the first woman to head one of the 16 Intelligence Community component agencies. Long was at the time deputy director of the DIA. Long was sworn in on August 9, 2010 as NGA Director.
NIMA / NGA has been involved in several controversies.
Constellation Federal Credit Union (CFCU) was chartered in 1944 during the Army Map Service era. It continued to serve all successive legacy agencies' employees and their families with a "once a member, always a member" policy until CFCU merged into Northwest Federal Credit Union in March 2019.
In 2011, upon consolidating most Washington DC metro area NGA employees to NCE, the Belvoir Federal Credit Union (BFCU) became the on-site credit union serving NCE-based personnel. In 2016, BFCU merged with Pentagon Federal Credit Union.
Arsenal Credit Union (ACU) was founded in August 1948 as Aero Chart Credit Union, organized to serve employees of the Aeronautical Chart Plant (ACP), located at the St. Louis Arsenal. The name changed to ACU in 1952, a nod to the St. Louis site's Civil War-era use as an arsenal.
Letitia Long, currently the Defense Intelligence Agency's deputy director, will take over NGA this summer, Gates said.