February 6, 2010:
In a time of shrinking budgets, the U.S. Navy is making a big investment in intelligence. While plans to buy over a hundred P-8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and nearly as many EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft are obvious intel efforts, less obvious are the big buys of LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) class vessels and Virginia class attack subs (SSNs). These ships and subs are expected to do a lot of intel work. The LCS, mainly because it is optimized for coastal work, and quick changes in its mission equipment. Since the end of the Cold War, it's become more widely known how important SSNs are for intelligence collecting. Details, of how SSNs carry out their intelligence collecting, are still classified. But the intel angle is a major reason why the SSN fleet is going to be maintained at 40-50 boats.
The navy is also making a big push into Cyber War and intelligence collecting via the Internet. Part of this is defensive. The navy is largely a collection of bases and ships spread all over the globe, and connected via wireless communications. That network is critical. It must be defended, while those used by enemy states must be made vulnerable to attack. That only happens if you can carry out a continual, and successful, intelligence effort.