Magazine article National Defense

New Intelligence Office Must Fix Information Breakdowns

Magazine article National Defense

New Intelligence Office Must Fix Information Breakdowns

Article excerpt

Military commanders often have complained that the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy fails to adequately satisfy their needs for up-to-the-minute information about the enemy. Their frustration has been further exacerbated by the fact that, when intelligence does arrive, it is likely to be "late, unfocused and insufficient," said a top aide to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

On March 1, the Pentagon is due to report to Congress on its plans to stand up its own intelligence unit, whose sole mission is to ensure that military operators get the information they need, on time. Heading that office will be an undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who will make certain that "intelligence exists as a service to operations," said Richard Haver, Rumsfeld's special assistant for intelligence.

"The connection between intelligence and operations has long been neglected," Haver told military officers and contractors attending a conference of the Surface Navy Association.

To fix this gap, the Pentagon needs an in-house operation that can cut through the unwieldy red tape that frequently slows down the flow of information to military commanders in the field, he explained.

Rumsfeld views this as a serious enough problem to warrant the creation of a new undersecretary of defense, a rare occurrence, said Haver. The secretary "chartered this organization to connect the operators back to someone who is going to represent them."

The intelligence post would be the fourth defense undersecretary, joining those for policy, acquisition and technology, and personnel and readiness.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that the operators and the intelligence agencies, for a long time, have lived in isolated "stovepipes." That is not acceptable in today's world, where the enemy is "adaptive," Myers told reporters during a media breakfast. The desirable situation is for the intelligence folks and the operators to be "totally integrated," Myers said.

Haver noted that an unresponsive intelligence service is "one of the broken pieces in the Defense Department."

The operators "don't find the intelligence world user friendly. ... They get a long litany of bureaucracy they have to work through to get things done, layers of procedures, tasking orders.

"The Defense Department has to see that the right tools are built, the right systems are procured," Haver said. "The secretary wanted to create an undersecretary whose job was devoted exclusively to making intelligence work for operations."

Rumsfeld's nominee for the post is Stephen Cambone, a trusted aide who has been running the Pentagon's program analysis and evaluation office.

By Pentagon standards, the new intelligence office will be staffed lightly, said Haver. "The secretary likes flat organizations," so the undersecretary can expect a staff in the "double-digits" range.

"The intention is to pick war fighters to work directly for the secretary ... [Possibly] three-star officers coming from major commands ... People who have suffered for the lack of information or have an appreciation for how the information can transform their operation.

Unlike other Defense Department organizations, the intelligence shop will be required to participate in real-world operations, said Haver. The staff will "spend half the time in the field, understanding what operators need ... not standing in the Pentagon hallways or in some marble tower, inside the Beltway."

The intelligence staff also will lobby on Capitol Hill, securing the appropriate access to key committees. "They will need to work the Hill in an advocacy mode," Haver said. "Inadequate advocacy means inadequate resources."

Also needed is "advocacy within the building," in the Pentagon, he added, to protect intelligence programs at the budget table, for example.

Haver cautioned that Rumsfeld's intent is not to step into the CIA's turf, but rather to "interact" with the director of central intelligence and with other agencies involved in law enforcement and homeland security. …

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