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What is in Store?

Most reports on intel reform over the last few days center on the perceived ills that face the CIA if a military man takes charge. I’ve already pointed out that the DCIA doesn’t report to the SECDEF and with four stars Hayden doesn’t owe Rumsfeld anything except the time of day. Just as he was DIRNSA, not Rumsfeld’s-man-at-Fort-Meade, Hayden is going to be DCIA, not Rumsfeld’s-man-at-Langley. As a military man however, Hayden is almost certainly aware of the real issue plaguing civilian and military intelligence: what the CIA is willing to do for the military and what the military wants done.

Consider that the CIA was formed to kick Commie butt and respond to the needs of the nation’s top civilian policy-makers. They’re performance on that front is debatable, but note that no where in this abbreviated charter are the words “military support” or “combat operations” mentioned. For that sort of grubby work we had the military HUMINT organizations that not all that long ago were coagulated into DIA’s Defense HUMINT Service (the first DHS). Even then there were not all that many C/Os on the ground when where and when we needed them; DHSers concentrated on the military targets that the CIA couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with (a US GRU if you will), and ground-level intel was left to military CI (same genus, different species). These shortcomings came to a head in Afghanistan and Iraq and the DIA response was the creation of tactical HUMINT teams, which if you’ll remember got underpants at Langley twisted beyond recognition.

This brings us back to the main point; if you are unwilling to do the job yourself, the least you can do is get out of the way of those who will. Hayden is unlikely to start sending C/Os to embed with Infantry Companies or SOF teams (ahem), but he most likely will reinforce the role of the NCS and emphasize the delineation of responsibilities between the cocktail circuit crowd and the sand-in-the-shorts crowd. Translation: train everyone to standard, coordinate, focus on your area of responsibility, and don’t get jealous (there is plenty of work to go around).

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.