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“A shift in the way we see GEOINT over the past 10 years” - Air Cdre Steve Thornber CBE MA RAF


This talk will be given by Air Commodore Steve Thornber, on Mon 27 Sept 2021 starting at 18.00hrs and consist of a 40min presentation, followed by a 20min Question & Answer (Q&A) session. The talk covers Steve’s personal thoughts on a shift in the way we see GEOINT over the past 10 years, some observations on Intelligence, Policy and Operations and challenges for the future


Air Commodore Thornber joined the RAF in 1986. His first decade as an Intelligence Officer saw him complete tours in Strategic and Tactical Reconnaissance with operational duties in Turkey, the Arctic, and Italy, and then teach imagery analysis in both the UK and in the USA. He subsequently went on to Intelligence Requirements and Collection Management and further operational tours in the Middle East and the Balkans. After a tour as Military Assistant to Director General Intelligence Collection and attending Advanced Command Staff College, he commanded Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing.


Then, following a short tour as Directing Staff at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, he was promoted to Group Captain in 2007 as Director of the US-UK Joint Narcotics Analysis Centre, which was followed by a year as Deputy Director of Intelligence for the newly formed 3* ISAF Joint Command in Kabul. Returning from there, he took command of the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre, eventually closing it, moving the capability to RAF Wyton, and forming the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre, a precursor to the National Centre for Geospatial Intelligence. For this, he was awarded a CBE in 2014. He then went to NATO’s Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe as Deputy Director of Staff, before returning to the UK in 2015 on promotion to 1* to the Permanent Joint HQ as Assistant Chief of Staff (Intelligence).


In 2016, he was posted to US Central Command as Deputy Director of Intelligence (Operations), being awarded the US Legion of Merit in 2018 and returning to MOD as Military Head of Defence Intelligence’s Regional and Thematic Assessment, regularly supporting Ministers and attending the Joint Intelligence Committee. For Higher Command and Staff training, he attended the US’s CAPSTONE General Officers’ Program, and NATO’s General Officers’, Flag Officers’ and Ambassadors Course. Between 2018 and 2021, he was also Chair of NATO’s Warning Panel and Head of Branch for RAF Intelligence. In 2019, he stood up the new Operations Division for Defence Intelligence as part of a significant restructure.


He retires from the RAF after 35 years in November 2021. He is the current President of the Medmenham Association and Patron of its Collection, Champion of RAF Adaptive Sports, and President of RAF Archery.


The presentation will begin prompt at 18.00hrs and will be recorded, so that it can be posted at a later date onto the DSA website.


Attendees are asked to login to Zoom using the invitation hyperlink below at least 5mins before the start time. The Zoom meeting area will be opened at 17.50hrs


Attendees are also asked to ensure that they identify themselves with First Name / Surname on their Zoom accounts, so that they can be clearly recognised when participating in the Q&A.


Microphones and Webcams are asked to be switched off for the period of the presentation, with microphones only switched back on when called to ask a question in the Q&A.


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