According to Paul de la Garza of the St. Petersburg Times, the Special Operations Command (SOCom) based out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Bay will be opening a new Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC) in St. Petersburg to process open source intelligence (OSINT) in support of the global war on terrorism.
The Center was announced by Rep.C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores (FL) on October 7. Rep. Young said that Blackbird Technologies of Virginia was awarded the $27-million contract to operate the Center, which will contain 60 people to conduct OSINT. Young, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said the center will open soon but declined to offer more details because of the classified nature of the facility.
According to de la Garza, SOCom has played a pivotal role in the war on terror since 9/11, with an increase in budget from $3.8-billion to $6.6-billion and an increase in staff from 6,000 to 51,441. In March, President Bush signed a directive that puts SOCom in charge of "synchronizing" the war on terror.