OODA OriginalUncategorized

Chocolate in My Peanut Butter

Cross posted at Haft of the Spear

As incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates plots a fresh path through Iraq, he is also expected to chart a different course for Pentagon intelligence programs, rolling back some of Donald H. Rumsfeld’s aggressive expansion of intelligence operations that rankled agencies such as the CIA.

You see these stories every once in a while and it is like watching a slap-fight; no real damage, but you always hold out hope. More than anything it is simply embarrassing for the participants. In this case it is CIA vs. DOD/DIA, but depending on the issue it could be any one of the larger agencies against any other.

The arguments follow a familiar pattern: the dominant agency (and its supporters) in whatever the given issue is gets to point out their dominance and that now the interlopers will be brought to heel; the interlopers slag on those in dominance and point out that re-establishing the status quo would leave them the worse for wear. Both sides have points.

On the one hand (we’ll use HUMINT as an example) the CIA has a point that they are the large canine in the yard; they run the training programs, they’ve been around the longest, and they have a variety of umbrella authorities. On the other hand the CIA focuses on a very key but small member of the overall audience, leaving everyone else who is involved short. How short depends on a variety of factors, but when you are bearing the bulk of the burden, any shortfall is too much. Consequently you go out and get what you can the best you can and screw anyone who tells you “no.”

In reality any given agency would gladly assume all of any given shared mission if money and resources were no question. There is no reason why all of a given disciple could not fall exclusively under a single roof, with subordinate groups responding to the needs of their former organizational masters. Save for pockets of unique analytical expertise (e.g. squints) analysis is a fairly universal capability; what makes any agency special is the collection it brings to the table. The IC is not so old that radical change on this front would have the same impact as say rolling the Marines into the Army.

Rather than waste time and energy fighting over rice bowls, why is there not more serious discussion about consolidation?

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.