Defense Intelligence Agency Celebrates 50-Year Legacy

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 — Since it began oper­a­tions Oct. 1, 1961, the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency has changed along with the nature of nation­al secu­ri­ty threats world­wide to become a key com­po­nent of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty.

Defense Intel­li­gence Agency Direc­tor Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess address­es the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, March 10, 2011.
DIA pho­to
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Today, accord­ing to agency offi­cials, DIA is first in “all-source defense intel­li­gence” � incor­po­rat­ing all sources of infor­ma­tion — to pre­vent strate­gic sur­prise and to sup­port warfight­ers, defense plan­ners and pol­i­cy­mak­ers. DIA man­ages and sup­plies all-source intel­li­gence, and since the ter­ror­ist attacks in 2001, a grow­ing num­ber of DIA intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als have deployed glob­al­ly along­side warfight­ers and inter­a­gency part­ners.

“We are more for­ward-deployed than ever, oper­at­ing along­side our com­bat troops in harm’s way,” DIA Direc­tor Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. said in a state­ment.

DIA has an entire gen­er­a­tion of intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als who know only wartime ser­vice. … They are very good at what they do, they’re com­mit­ted to the mis­sion, and they’re the best we’ve ever had,” he added.

The 9/11 attacks had a range of oth­er effects on DIA and the rest of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing prompt­ing the 2004 cre­ation by Con­gress of the Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence, which assumed many func­tions of the posi­tions of direc­tor and deputy direc­tor of cen­tral intel­li­gence.

This and sim­i­lar rec­om­men­da­tions by the Nation­al Com­mis­sion of the Ter­ror­ist Attacks upon the Unit­ed States, known as the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, increased the prac­tice of embed­ding ana­lysts and oth­er pro­fes­sion­als from var­i­ous agen­cies in each other’s oper­a­tions.

“When you go for­ward, you find CIA, [the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency], [the Nation­al Geospa­tial-Intel­li­gence Agency], DIA — every­body work­ing togeth­er right there on the floor in a tac­ti­cal oper­a­tions cen­ter or sup­port­ing a com­mand,” DIA Deputy Direc­tor for Analy­sis Jef­frey N. Rapp told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice. “It’s real­ly pret­ty remark­able the kinds of col­lab­o­ra­tion and inte­gra­tion that’s going on to enable oper­a­tions.”

Such inte­gra­tion has helped pre­pare DIA for the future, Rapp said. “We may not be poised imme­di­ate­ly for every pos­si­ble prob­lem we’re going to run into,” he added, “but one thing I’ve found is that we’re pret­ty adap­tive.”

An exam­ple this year was Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor, he said.

“[Libya] wasn’t the top tar­get on our radar screen, let’s face it,” Rapp said. “Yet with­in a mat­ter of three weeks, we were imple­ment­ing a com­plete change in nation­al pol­i­cy through an air cam­paign sup­port­ing com­bat oper­a­tions.”

The 9/ll Commission’s rec­om­men­da­tions also prompt­ed intel­li­gence agen­cies to improve infor­ma­tion shar­ing with­in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and among fed­er­al, state, and local author­i­ties and with allies.

An enabling tech­nol­o­gy for such shar­ing is Ana­lyt­ic Space, or A-Space, a project on a clas­si­fied net­work on the Joint World­wide Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Sys­tem that was ini­ti­at­ed by the ODNI Office of Ana­lyt­ic Trans­for­ma­tion and Tech­nol­o­gy as a col­lab­o­ra­tive space for intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty ana­lysts.

DIA was the exec­u­tive agent for build­ing the network’s first phase.

“It is a place where ana­lysts can go, and at the high­est clas­si­fi­ca­tion lev­els, col­lab­o­rate on ideas, dis­cuss ana­lyt­ic issues and exchange infor­ma­tion,” Rapp said.

A-Space is cross-agency and cross-top­ic, he added. “Ana­lysts can get togeth­er more eas­i­ly than just through email con­tact or even tele­phone, and it’s more like what our younger folks are used to doing today.”

Anoth­er exam­ple is the Library of Nation­al Intel­li­gence, cre­at­ed by the ODNI and the CIA as an author­i­ta­tive intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty repos­i­to­ry for all dis­sem­i­nat­ed intel­li­gence prod­ucts, regard­less of clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

A key fea­ture is a card cat­a­log that has sum­ma­ry infor­ma­tion for each report clas­si­fied at the low­est pos­si­ble lev­el to allow ana­lysts to dis­cov­er near­ly any­thing that has been pub­lished by the com­mu­ni­ty regard­less of doc­u­ment clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

“All the pro­duc­tion pro­duced by the [intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty] every month goes to this Library of Nation­al Intel­li­gence,” DIA Infor­ma­tion Shar­ing Exec­u­tive Roland P. Fabia told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

“There are prob­a­bly 10 mil­lion hold­ings that ana­lysts are access­ing,” he added, “and it’s not only fin­ished intel­li­gence, it’s also raw intel­li­gence.”

DIA’s first major chal­lenge was in 1962, when the Sovi­et Union secret­ly placed nuclear-capa­ble bal­lis­tic mis­siles in Cuba and DIA ana­lysts played a key role in their dis­cov­ery. Today, the agency’s work includes glob­al ter­ror­ist move­ments, insur­gen­cies and arms pro­lif­er­a­tion, along with the con­ver­gence of advanced tech­nol­o­gy, a com­plex and shift­ing inter­na­tion­al polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment, and increas­ing com­pe­ti­tion for glob­al resources.

“If you look at where we came from and why DIA was cre­at­ed, it was an inte­gra­tive agency to help pull mil­i­tary intel­li­gence and mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties and defense analy­sis togeth­er for the depart­ment and for the nation,” Rapp said.

DIA, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the ser­vices and the com­bat­ant com­mands, “helps focus and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble deci­sion advan­tage to our senior-most pol­i­cy­mak­ers,’ he added, “whether it’s the chair­man [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and the sec­re­tary of defense, or the pres­i­dent. So, I think DIA is on a good path.”

“The nation has been under­stand­ably focused on cur­rent oper­a­tions in Iraq, Afghanistan and else­where since 9/11, [but] the rest of the world has not stood still. Oth­er nations have used this peri­od as their win­dows of oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Burgess said.

“While sup­port­ing troops in harm’s way,” the direc­tor added, “DIA must also main­tain a sharp focus to ensure that our efforts to com­bat transna­tion­al ter­ror­ists do not blind us to strate­gic sur­prise else­where.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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