OODA OriginalUncategorized

Drawing from a deeper pool

If I remember right, somewhere deep in the IC reform legislation was a provision for the creation of an “Intelligence Reserve” . . . Sec 1053 of S.2845 to be exact. I thought of this as I read this latest item from Inside the Army (subscription):

In his latest challenge to Pentagon policy, the chief of the Army Reserve is crafting a plan to regain control over civil affairs and psychological operations specialists who currently reside in U.S. Special Operations Command, and he is proposing a new way to train them.

Lt. Gen. James Helmly was in the spotlight in early 2005, when he called attention to the level of strain facing the Reserve because of deployments in Iraq — one that his volunteer force still faces, he told Inside the Army in a Feb. 17 interview at the Association of the U.S. Army conference here. […]

Civil affairs and psychological operations lend themselves to the Reserve, an inactive-duty force, Helmly said. “It relies on civilian acquired skills — not military unique skills. It’s civilian skills practiced in a military environment, and so it is a capability [that] needs to be stronger for this century in an age of stability and reconstruction operations than perhaps the last century,” he said. […]

In addition, he wants to establish a training program for those soldiers modeled on training-with-industry efforts used by senior leaders in logistics, management and acquisition.

This is probably one of the better ideas I’ve heard of in a long time. How many of us have heard the “we’re not funding conferences” or “you can only take in-house, no-cost training” speech round-about the June timeframe? Reading industry periodicals is nice, but there is no substitute for participating in practical exercises or actually doing the job. This is less a factor for those who come into the intel field with 20 years of soldiering under their belts, but experts in combat arms tactics are a dime a dozen. What is the going rate for a SCADA pro (or someone who actually speaks and understands Arabic issues) and could Uncle Sam even afford to pay him?

Cycling current IC staff into short-term ‘shadow’ positions in high-demand fields is probably the more do-able course of action. The clearance backlog issue alone is enough to scuttle plans for rotating industry pros into temp assignments in the government; though that would be less of an issue for ex-IC types who have left for industry (real industry, not contracting). It would also be less of an issue for efforts like the DP World deal, where access to classified data wouldn’t necessarily impede the ability to determine the threat. Tapping such expertise on a regular basis would probably be difficult unless IC reservists could also “drill” on a regular basis at joint reserve intel centers or were called upon in response to (or parallel with) the construction of applicable NIEs (regular Team Bs).

The demand for such a capability is obvious to everyone who realizes that all the answers are not available from classified sources, so the real question is, “Would anyone respond?” The flood of resumes to IC agencies post 9/11 (the highly motivated dentist was my favorite) is a good indicator. Only a small fraction of those people have ever crossed the threshold of an IC agency, but one not look very far to find people who are still motivated to do something for the cause. Costs? Based on my own unscientific survey most would happily sign up for mileage and per diem.

The biggest challenge? Some SES somewhere is going to wonder out loud, “How do we keep them down on the farm when they realize the kind of money they can make on the outside?” That discussion, thankfully, is beyond the scope of this entry.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.