A U.S. military command has sent an urgent request to the Pentagon to fund counterterrorism intelligence computer software for special operations troops globally, including the Palantir analytical system.
Palantir is at the center of two investigations in Washington. Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, has accused the Army of making it difficult for conventional soldiers in Afghanistan to buy Palantir off the shelf because the Pentagon is protecting its own system.
The Aug. 17 request memo comes from U.S. Special Operations Command, the tip of the spear in the war on terrorism as it oversees Navy SEALs, and Army Delta Force and Green Berets.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, talks of plans to purchase an application named Lighthouse. Lighthouse can collect data sent via mobile devices such as cellphones, the Internet and radios, and send it to Palantir, which processes and stores data and then analyzes links among terrorists.
“Palantir supports distributed data ingestion, manipulation and storage, useful for the analysis of Lighthouse data,” says the memo, signed by Konrad J. Trautman, director of intelligence for Special Operations Command. “Lighthouse and Palantir users are equipped to exploit structured data using link analysis [and] data mining.”
The memo adds that deployed special operations troops have an “intelligence priority for rapidly deploying a data collection, fusion and analysis system.”
Special Operations Command sent the memo to two agencies involved in funding counterterrorism equipment: the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Special operations troops were among the first to use Palantir in Afghanistan using special funds acquired through the technical support office. The memo shows the command has much bigger plans for the Lighthouse-Palantir marriage.
By next year, it wants the two systems operational in areas where terrorist groups linked to al Qaeda seek to operate. The areas include the Philippines, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, and Central and South America.
Lighthouse was created at a laboratory at the Naval Postgraduate School by Marine Corps Capt. Carrick Longley.
The school’s website reported in April that the lab had “expanded Lighthouse to develop a resource for gathering and mapping data on improvised explosive devices and the networks that create them.”
Army spokesmen say tests are being conducted to determine whether Palantir’s quick link-analysis functions can be incorporated into the DCGS. The Army says its system performs many more tasks than Palantir does.