The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has shut down the facility where its staff created a three-dimensional model used in planning the raid against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
NGA said the decision was driven by belt tightening and that it will outsource three-dimensional modeling work to private companies on an as-needed basis.
The facility, located in Newington, Va., was “useful, but not critical to NGA’s mission,” said spokesman Muridith Winder. Ultimately, the agency weighed the value of the facility against budgetary needs and decided it would be best to close the shop and contract with private companies, he said.
“Other agencies do have the ability to produce models of similar design/construction, which also contributed to NGA’s decision to terminate its contract for the Newington facility,” he added.
The 3-D models can depict fine terrain details or the locations of wires on the outsides of buildings.
The facility in Newington had been operated by a government contractor for at least eight years, Winder said. He said he could not release details about the facility, such as its funding or how many people worked there.
Last month, the Pentagon unveiled an NGA-generated table-top model of Osama bin Laden’s compound. Winder said the NGA can still get these types of models from civilian companies. “Should NGA or its customers require [3D modeling] services, they will use contracting mechanisms to do so,” he said.
Winder said NGA could not provide more details about the 3D modeling processes because it “does not disclose current or future operational capabilities in order to protect its personnel and national intelligence requirements.”