WWS 401a: Intelligence Reform in the Post-Cold War Era
Prof. Diane C. Snyder
January 6, 1997
I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code in the writing of this paper.
Current Missions and Priorities
Analysis of Current Priorities
Rethinking the IC's missions and Priorities
Consequences for the IC
The intelligence community as we know it today was created through a mostly unguided evolutionary process during the Cold War. As a creature of the Cold War, the intelligence community was mostly focused on countering the Soviet threat and penetrating the veil of secrecy surrounding our adversaries of the time. With the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the rapid change of the world order in the years since, the world in which the intelligence community matured as an organization came to an end. The intelligence community is now faced with the task of restructuring itself to meet the needs of our government in this new environment. Much progress has already been made, but more must be done to make sure that the community is able to carry out its mission.
One of the key issues that must be decided so that the community can continue its restructuring is the definition of a clear set of missions for the community and their relative priorities. Defining the correct set of missions and priorities would enable the community to restructure itself in such a way as to best accomplish its missions with the limited resources at hand. The current administration has issued a set of general priorities for the community, but much remains to be clarified. The growing need for support to military operations and the increasing pressure on the community to expand its scope into new areas like the environment and health are stretching resources beyond their limit and endangering the ability of the community to adequately perform its many duties.
The Current Framework
The current priorities framework is embodied in PDD-35, a still-secret document. PDD-35 declares Support to Military Operations (SMO) the most important mission of the intelligence community. It also singles out proliferation, narcotics trafficking, terrorism, and global crime as important concerns for the intelligence community. In accordance with this framework, a sizable portion of the current intelligence community budget goes to the Department of Defense and is to be used for SMO.
Unfortunately, the different missions given to the IC have stretched its resources to the breaking point and beyond. Budget and personnel reductions have made this problem more acute. The current framework does not properly address these concerns and must therefore be modified to better fit the current international order. To do this, however, there must be clear set of foreign policy objectives that will guide the creation of a framework.
America s National Interests
While it is true that today s international environment is still changing rapidly, there are several basic trends that are evident and that allow for a clear definition of American objectives in the coming years. The most important of America s national interests for the foreseeable future is preventing the rise of a major hostile power so as to ensure that there is no new Cold War. This is a long term objective but must be incorporated into all aspects of foreign policy.
Other vital national interests include:
Important national interests include :
The New Framework
To better protect the national interests outlined above, a new priorities framework is required for the intelligence community. This new framework is divided into four tiers and has two main pillars. Each tier should have resources allocated to it according to its place in the hierarchy; and when national security demands it, resources should be diverted from the lowest-ranking priorities first. The goal of this framework is to allow for the adequate protection of national interests while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to redirect resources to meet new threats and to quickly retask the intelligence community. It gives policymakers in particular (and consumers in general) great discretion as to how the community should use its limited resources to provide relevant intelligence. To that end, the tiers (excepting the first one) are not fixed and allow for the shifting of missions upwards or downwards. The main pillars, SMO and Support to Senior Policy Officials (SPO), are fixed because of their inherent importance to America s national interests. It is within these two broad pillars that the most critical missions of the community are performed, so changing them or the relative balance between the two would risk endangering our vital interests.
The first tier consists of the two main pillars: Support to Military Operations and Support to Senior Policy Officials, which includes support to all high-level policymakers up to and including the President. Both of these missions deserve equal attention from the IC. The second tier missions are counterterrorism, counterproliferation, and economic intelligence. Third tier priorities are counternarcotics, global crime, and information warfare. The last tier is composed of low-priority missions such as support to humanitarian operations not involving U.S. troops, environmental issues, support to international organizations, and health issues. Policy Recommendations
To implement these changes in the priorities framework, it is necessary to carry out certain reforms. First, the growth of SMO funding should be checked and the transfer of functions to the Defense Department halted and reversed if possible. Low- priority mission funding should be reduced or eliminated as needed and the funds reallocated to higher-priority missions. There must also be greater cooperation between the DCI and the Secretary of Defense and their respective institutions.
To ensure that the Intelligence Community is adequately implementing the new priorities framework, the Priorities Interagency Working Group created by PDD-35 should be tasked with continuously reviewing the implementation of the framework in the community. It should also be responsible for periodically reviewing the framework itself and making the necessary changes as the need arises. To ensure the best possible support to high-level consumers of intelligence, which is the main concern of SPO, periodic polling of consumers to determine their priorities should be instituted. These reforms will ensure that the Intelligence Community redirects its resources according to the new priorities framework to better serve the national interest.
The intelligence community as we know it today was created through a mostly unguided evolutionary process during the Cold War. As a creature of the Cold War, the intelligence community was mostly focused on countering the Communist threat and penetrating the veil of secrecy surrounding our adversaries of the time. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the rapid change of the world order in the years since, the world in which the intelligence community matured as an organization came to an end. The intelligence community is now faced with the task of restructuring itself to meet the needs of our government in this new environment. Much progress has already been made, but more must be done to make sure that the community is able to carry out its mission.
One of the key issues that must be decided so that the community can continue its restructuring is the definition of a clear set of missions for the community and their relative priorities. Defining the correct set of missions and priorities would enable the community to restructure itself in such a way as to best accomplish its missions with the limited resources at hand. The current administration has issued a set of general priorities for the community (PDD-35), but much remains to be clarified. The growing need for support to military operations (SMO) and the increasing pressure on the community to expand its scope into new areas like the environment and health are stretching resources beyond their limit and endangering the ability of the community to adequately perform its many duties.
This paper will address the issue of whether the existing set of missions and priorities is sufficient and proper, or whether it must be modified to adequately meet the challenges our nation currently faces and may face in the future. It will also address the practical implications of the recommendations and ways of implementing them and measuring the success of the reforms.
Current Missions and Priorities
Over the past few years, the Clinton administration has endeavored to redefine the priorities of the intelligence community to better reflect the challenges of the current global order. The overwhelming focus on the Soviet Union has been replaced with a set of different issues that are considered of paramount interest by the administration. The administration has categorized and formalized its priorities in Presidential Decision Directive 35 (currently classified). Based on open sources, it appears that PDD-35 assigns the highest priority to support to military operations (SMO) and singles out non-proliferation and international terrorism, crime, and drugs as areas of particular concern for the intelligence community. There is as of yet no further information detailing what other functional areas are deemed of sufficient importance to require community monitoring besides those already mentioned.
Together with these functional priorities, PDD-35 apparently sets geographic collection priorities in an effort to focus the activities of the community on those areas of the world that are most relevant to America s national interests. These geographic classifications are a clear acknowledgment of the inability of the intelligence community to maintain a constant global presence and instead call for presence in selected areas and the ability to monitor others when the situation requires it. This is the concept of global reach which has arisen as a response to the growing budgetary constraints the community faces. PDD-35 also establishes the Priorities Interagency Working Group to help identify foreign policy issues that are of sufficiently critical nature as to require greater attention from the intelligence community.
It is within this framework that the intelligence community currently operates. In accordance with the importance given to SMO after the Cold War and now embodied in PDD-35, the intelligence community is, in many respects, dominated by the Defense Department. Although the DCI is the head of the community, many of the agencies he ostensibly oversees (eight out of thirteen) are part of the Department of Defense and subject to the authority of the Secretary of Defense. The intelligence budget is also heavily skewed towards the Department of Defense. Of the National Foreign Intelligence Program budget, which comprises roughly two-thirds of the overall intelligence budget, the Defense Department handles about 75%. The remaining one-third of the intelligence budget is exclusively devoted to two Defense programs, one of which (Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities, TIARA) is essentially pure SMO. Thus, approximately 83% of the intelligence community budget is spent within Defense agencies and, presumably, a sizable portion of this goes into SMO and support to the defense planner, another military intelligence application. The recent creation of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) has given DoD administrative control over another intelligence function and reduced the portion of the intelligence community not in DoD. NIMA has amalgamated all of the various community imagery and mapping agencies into one super-agency modeled along the lines of the NSA, so that former CIA organizations like the National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) are now under the purview of DoD.
The sheer size of the Defense Department portion of the intelligence community gives the military great clout in determining the priorities of the community. Furthermore, the designation of other intelligence agencies as combat support continues to give the military precedence over other intelligence consumers. The increased frequency of military deployments abroad in the past few years has given the military good cause to push their case for increasing SMO. These factors, together with the provisions of PDD-35, have made SMO and other defense-related activities the most important missions of the intelligence community. As IC21: Intelligence Community in the 21st Century notes when describing its initial impression of the community s priorities, at the beginning of the IC21 process, the Study Team was overwhelmed with the emphasis that was being placed on the issue of Support to Military Operations (SMO).
Together with this increased emphasis on SMO, the intelligence community has also had to deal with the effects of large budget cuts that have affected all government agencies. Personnel has been reduced by 17% since 1993 and will decline by a further 3% every year until 2001. Accordingly, the capabilities of the various intelligence agencies have also been reduced. The most significant retrenchment has been acknowledged by the new strategy of global reach, which implicitly accepts that the U.S. cannot maintain a global intelligence presence but must instead concentrate on areas it deems important to its interests.
Unfortunately for the intelligence community, the demand for intelligence has not diminished, but rather it has tended to diversify as new threats crop up. The many small crises and political hot spots that have proliferated since the end of the Cold War have all created demands on the intelligence community. The U.S. has deployed its troops overseas to hot spots frequently over the past six years, and there has been an increased number of conflicts which have involved American intervention in some capacity (military or diplomatic) around the globe during that time. All of these events have required the support of the intelligence community. If the community is to be able to fulfill its assigned duties, it must be able to respond quickly to these new requirements of the post-Cold War era.
At the same time that the community has had to respond to the increased tempo of international events, it has also been tasked by the policy community to engage in activities that have not traditionally involved the intelligence community. The community has been requested to involve itself in humanitarian mission support, worldwide health monitoring, environmental monitoring, counterterrorism, and support to law enforcement of various types. In some of these areas the community has played a role historically but is now called upon to expand its activities, as is the case with counterterrorism, counterproliferation, economic intelligence, and support to law enforcement. All of these areas require the expenditure of resources (both monetary and human) that would otherwise have gone to support the more traditional roles of the community. It is therefore critical to examine the extent to which the intelligence community should involve itself in these issue-areas and what proportion of its resources it should allocate to them, if any.
Several of the new missions of the intelligence community are simply a continuation of its primary mission to protect the national security by identifying those who threaten America and its citizens, like counterterrorism and counterproliferation. These missions involve countering the same types of threats to national security posed by hostile nations but they focus on less easily targeted non-state actors. Therefore, these issue-areas are simply the logical extension of traditional community missions applied to a new world environment. As such, these new missions require less scrutiny to justify community involvement and the expenditure of scarce resources.
Other new issue-areas represent a fundamental redefinition of the concept of national security, as for example world health monitoring and environmental monitoring. The justification behind having the intelligence community involved in these issues is that they have become a threat to the well being of America in ways that were not taken into account in the traditional definition of national security. Proponents of community involvement in these areas argue that these new, post-Cold War threats must be addressed by the community if it is to adequately serve those whose task it is to safeguard our country.
It is because of the increasing tension between the multitude of requirements and the decreasing resources that the question of intelligence missions and priorities must be addressed in the post-Cold War era. While the issue was latent during the Cold War, it is only in the last few years, as the consequences of the end of the Cold War become apparent, that it has come to the fore. A resolution of this dilemma will allow the intelligence community to better meet the needs of policymakers in today s changing world.
Analysis of Current Priorities
Having laid out the current intelligence community missions and priorities, we must now analyze them and see if they adequately reflect the requirements of today s world. There are certain standards that the current set of missions and priorities (or any other, for that matter) must meet in order to be considered satisfactory. The priorities and missions of the community must, ideally, address issues that are of importance to national security and cannot be properly addressed by other means. It is only when intelligence is the only, or the best, means of acquiring information about, or about dealing with, an issue that it becomes a legitimate concern for the community. It is very hard to justify the use of intelligence community resources in issue-areas where there are other, more capable organizations performing the same duties and alternative sources of information exist.
Intelligence priorities should also reflect the severity posed by the the threat. If the threat is deemed to be great, then it is justifiable to have the intelligence community spend a larger amount of its resources on that issue. The lesser the threat, the lower the amount of resources devoted to it should be in order to optimize the use of funds and other finite resources and to focus on more critical issues. The community must, however, be able to deal with unforeseen threats that develop rapidly.
Priorities should also reflect the needs of policymakers and other intelligence consumers. If the product does not meet the requirements of the consumers, intelligence becomes irrelevant and loses its most important reason for being. Intelligence that does not contribute in some way to the decision making process because it is irrelevant is a waste of resources. This idea, however, must not be taken to the extreme, since there are some intelligence activities, such as keeping up-to-date background information on various countries and their leaders, that may be of great use in the future when unforeseen crises erupt. These considerations must also be weighed when evaluating a set of priorities. Irrelevancy is therefore to be avoided, but must be balanced by the prospect of future utility. Also, the needs of the consumer must be taken into account when designing a set of missions and priorities for the community.
Support to Military Operations (SMO)
Given the importance attached to support to military operations, this area should receive the most scrutiny. Military intelligence is one of the oldest forms of intelligence, and for many decades it constituted the only form of intelligence in which the United States engaged. It was only with the creation of the CIA that civilian intelligence truly became a part of America s intelligence apparatus. Given this prominent role, it is not surprising that SMO remains one of the key missions of intelligence.
It is perfectly clear that intelligence is of enormous benefit to the battlefield commander. As stated in Joint Doctrine for Intelligence Support to Operations, the role intelligence (including CI) plays in full-dimensional operations cannot be overstated. The more a commander knows about the whereabouts and strengths and weaknesses of the enemy he faces, the easier it will be to plan and prepare accordingly. Intelligence is in many ways the eyes and ears of a battlefield commander. It drives key decisions such as troop placement and battle strategies. Without proper support from intelligence, the military would find it extremely hard to accomplish its mission on the battlefield. The critical nature of intelligence support to military operations is easy to demonstrate with a few historical examples. It was the knowledge of Japanese battle plans gained from cryptographic intelligence that allowed the U.S. Pacific fleet to score a major victory against the Japanese at the battle of Midway in June 1942. Intelligence again played a role in helping the U.S.-led coalition forces plan their strategy for both the air war and the ground war against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War with spectacular results. Time and again, intelligence has proven its critical role in military operations by helping score great victories and, when it has been lacking, by failing to avoid crushing defeats. In the words of USMC Lieutenant General Van Riper, Intelligence and operations are inextricably linked at all levels of command, with intelligence serving as the driving force that underlies operations.
The question of whether intelligence is the best means of gathering the necessary information for SMO is a simple one to answer. Intelligence began as a military function and has time and again proven its worth in that field. Given the tenacity with which other countries guard their military secrets and the hostile environment in which military forces often operate, it is fairly obvious that intelligence is the best, if not the only, way of performing this vital task.
The question, therefore, is not whether America should engage the intelligence community in supporting military operations but to what extent SMO should be a priority. It is very true that SMO is a critical mission for the intelligence community, but other factors must be taken into account when determining the proper place of SMO in community priorities. Military operations, whether they be combat operations or other military operations (OMO), are designed to support the foreign policy of the United States and are by no means the only method of furthering American interests in the world. Military operations and deployments abroad (involving mostly OMO), although more frequent in the post-Cold War era, are the last resort to which policymakers turn when all other options have been exhausted. In essence, the use of force represents the failure of diplomacy to bring about a satisfactory outcome.
Within this context, it is apparent that our military capabilities are a powerful tool for international relations, but not the only one. Policymakers are the ones who ultimately decide when the military will be deployed, and it is they who also require support in their efforts to protect and further American interests through other means such as diplomacy. This critical fact often escapes those who advocate SMO over all other missions of intelligence. If our foreign policy apparatus is given adequate support by the intelligence community, then the need to resort to military force will be reduced, at least in theory. Like military commanders, senior policymakers must have as much information as possible about the situation they face so that they may make the best decision possible. If the information provided to policymakers is incomplete or inadequate, the consequences for America s security and interests could be extremely serious. When considered in this context, SMO must be brought down from its pedestal on the priorities list because it clearly must compete with support to the policymaker for both attention and resources. It is important to give diplomats and other high-level policymakers the proper support in order to ensure that they are adequately equipped with the knowledge they require to perform their duties. This does not mean that SMO is of secondary importance, but rather that it must be balanced with support to senior policy officials (hereafter referred to as SPO ) if we are to have the best possible outcome for our country. SMO must not become the all- encompassing priority of the intelligence community because in doing so it would seriously impede America s ability to mount an effective foreign policy by draining resources away from support to senior policy officials.
SPO forms the core of the traditional mission of the IC and involves several different types of intelligence products that encompass a wide variety of activities. It includes warning intelligence to advise policymakers about possible conflicts and crises before they become unmanageable; it includes support to treaty negotiations and treaty compliance verification; and it also includes in-depth political, economic, and military analysis of selected countries. All of these activities are essential if America wishes to have a well informed foreign policy apparatus that can respond in a timely fashion to any brewing crisis. These activities have proven extremely valuable throughout the history of the IC and will continue to be of great importance to policymakers in the future.
Other Functional Priorities
The current missions and priorities structure for the IC includes several functional priorities in addition to SMO. The most important of these are counterproliferation, counterterrorism, counternarcotics, and support to law enforcement against global organized crime. Each of these must be examined separately, but together they form a group of relatively new missions for the intelligence community that have rapidly grown in importance.
Counterproliferation is an issue that has gained increased relevance since the end of the Cold War. In the nuclear arena, the main concern centers around the former Soviet arsenal and rogue states that wish to acquire nuclear weapons. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resultant weakening of the Russian military there arose the risk that rogue states could acquire fissile material and the know-how to build what are termed indigenous nuclear devices (INDs). The Iraqi nuclear program was the first example of this new threat which the United States encountered. The revelations by the South African government that it had at one time possessed nuclear weapons (now dismantled) and the North Korean nuclear program also increased American awareness of this grave danger. The possibility of a rogue state acquiring nuclear weapons is a chilling thought. Nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue states like North Korea are clearly a serious threat to national security; therefore the need for counterproliferation in this area is evident.
The other two types of weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, also pose a serious threat to America. These technologies give a country the ability to cause massive damage to civilian populations or military units (including our own) at relatively low cost. They also raise the specter of a direct attack on our country which could lead to massive loss of life. The indiscriminate nature of these weapons and their potential use against civilians, possibly even within the United States, are powerful reasons for America to counter proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Given the secrecy that usually surrounds WMD programs such as Libya s suspected chemical weapons facility and North Korea s nuclear program, intelligence has a significant role to play in these matters. Intelligence will be able to alert us of WMD programs before they reach a level where stopping them would expose our country to terrible loss of life, both military and civilian. The capabilities of the various intelligence agencies are uniquely suited to gathering information for counterproliferation purposes. Overhead imaging systems, human intelligence (HUMINT- intelligence acquired by human sources, either through covert or overt collection ), and other intelligence collection methods are some of the best weapons the government has in the fight against WMD proliferation. Given the extremely lethal nature of these weapons and the gravity of the threat, the intelligence community does have a valuable role to play in counterproliferation efforts.
Since countering any WMD proliferation has been a top priority for America in the past few years, it is clear that the demand for intelligence on this topic exists and that intelligence will be essential to policymakers. Time and again, intelligence has provided policymakers the necessary information to take preventive action against proliferators. Given this critical role, counterproliferation is a justified priority for the community.
Counterterrorism is another transnational threat that has arisen as a significant national concern. The intelligence community has become increasingly involved in this area in the past decade as terrorism, both state-sponsored and by rogue groups, has become a greater threat to America. Recent terrorist actions have increased awareness of this threat and exposed the vulnerability of America to terrorist groups. The June 1996 bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, demonstrated yet again that American troops serving abroad are vulnerable to terrorism and must be protected. As a result of these incidents, policymakers have focused more on counterterrorist activities. In addition, the potential threat of a WMD-capable terrorist group increases the importance of counterterrorism activities for the protection of our country. Like counterproliferation activities, counterterrorism activities involve the penetration of deep shrouds of secrecy and therefore justify the use of intelligence methods and sources, since this is a skill that lies at the core of intelligence. Thus, it is evident that the intelligence community has a clear and important role to play in the counterterrorist activities of our government and that these activities are a significant priority, both for the community and for the country.
Counternarcotics is in many ways a more complex transnational issue than the two previously examined. The phenomenal growth in the drug trade over the past two decades is of grave concern to the country because of the variety and severity of the social problems that it fosters in America. Starting with the Reagan administration and continuing until today, the American government has launched a concerted effort to reduce and eventually eliminate the flow of drugs into our territory. While these activities have netted some positive results, there is some evidence of increased drug use in our country and a shift of the drug flow to areas of our border that are not well policed. There is therefore a clear political justification for involving the intelligence community in drug interdiction activities abroad. Proponents of increasing the participation of the intelligence community in this area cite the ability of intelligence agencies to field highly sophisticated surveillance assets and to possibly penetrate drug smuggling rings. The envisioned role of the community would therefore be one of support, with law enforcement agencies and other governments performing the actual interdiction of shipments. This is part of a broader effort to bring other agencies such as the military into the war on drugs.
There are, however, several problems with this approach. The most important one is that under current statutes, the CIA is forbidden to engage in most types of domestic law enforcement activities. Since the drug trade is a transnational phenomenon, it is impossible to draw clear distinctions between many of its operations without severely hampering the efficacy of interdiction and enforcement efforts. This is the very reason why American domestic law enforcement agencies frequently collaborate with their foreign counterparts. Because of this, it is hard to envision an efficient interdiction framework with expanded IC activities given the restraints under which the IC operates.
This is not to say that the community cannot play an important counternarcotics role overseas, such as the monitoring of airfields in countries of origin and possibly the monitoring of drug rings in producer countries. But some of these missions are already carried out by other government agencies such as the DEA and the U.S. Customs Service, so coordination with them is essential. Although the intelligence community does have unique capabilities that it can apply to the war on drugs, as the Brown Commission report states, it is clear that there are limits to what the Intelligence Community can do in terms of its overall impact on the narcotics problem faced by the United States. It is therefore very hard to justify a significant degree of duplication of effort in this field since the intelligence community has other priorities that it must attend to. The intelligence community s efforts in this area, however, must continue since it is a grave national problem where all available assets must be brought to bear. The IC should collaborate intensively with other agencies working on this issue to ensure the best possible counternarcotics efforts. It is in this collaborative role that IC will find its place in American counternarcotics efforts.
Global Crime is in many respects similar to drug running. Both are illegal activities that cross national boundaries and present a threat to the well-being of American society. While global crime has yet to become as visible an issue as the drug war, it is still an important law enforcement concern and one which the intelligence community has been directed to address. Unfortunately, as with counterdrug operations, the contribution that the intelligence community is able to make to these efforts is limited by federal statute and by the fact that law enforcement agencies already possess many of the assets that the intelligence community might bring to bear on these threats. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 1997 specifically designates the circumstances under which the intelligence community may assist law enforcement agencies in collecting information abroad, but it keeps most of the statutory limits on these activities that will continue to constrain the contribution that the intelligence community can make. The intelligence community does not have the capabilities to pursue this sort of duplication without harming its other duties. There are, nevertheless, valuable and unique contributions to be made by the intelligence community to the struggle against global organized crime within the statutory limits, and therefore the community should continue its work in this area.
The gathering of economic intelligence
Economic Intelligence is one of the missions of intelligence that has endured since the beginnings of the community. In the years since the end of the Cold War there has been an increasing call for the intelligence community to abandon most of its economic intelligence collection efforts. The reasons given by those who do not wish to see the intelligence community continue to gather economic intelligence are mostly based on the fact that most economic information is now available from open sources. Since the continuation of community involvement in this area would duplicate what is readily available from other sources, according to the opponents of economic intelligence, it would be wise to discontinue this mission and redirect community resources thus freed up to other areas. Furthermore, the intelligence currently produced, the argument goes, is of no use to the consumer because it simply restates what is found elsewhere and may even be inferior to outside analysis.
Those who advocate an end to economic intelligence do have some valuable insights into the matter, but they easily overlook the fact that our economy is increasingly tied to the global economy, making the U.S. vulnerable, and that not all of the world s nations freely release economic data. Global economic interdependence has made the U.S. economy more sensitive to outside disruption and thus makes it necessary for America to keep closer tabs on economic activity around the globe. This increased interdependence also brings up the possibility of an information warfare attack against our economy, something to be examined later in this paper. Those countries still withholding economic statistics are also, for the most part, countries opposed to American policies or the so-called rogue states that consider America a bitter adversary. Since knowing the economic situation of these countries is of great importance to American policymakers, there is still room for economic intelligence on these countries.
Other aspects of economic intelligence which have received attention are the support of government trade negotiators and the surveillance of foreign companies suspected of playing unfairly in foreign markets. Support to trade negotiators is an important function that fits better under the general rubric of support to senior policy officials. As such, it mainly involves finding out what the strategies of the other parties in the negotiations are. This is an important role for the intelligence community since it is the best suited to collect this information and the need to do so is clear. As for determining whether foreign companies are unfairly gaining advantages in foreign markets, this is not a traditional role for the intelligence community and some might argue that it is not a proper role. These activities (bribing foreign officials and the like) do not pose a clear threat to the U.S., but they do hurt the ability of American companies to compete fairly and undermine America s declared intention to foster the establishment of free markets. Therefore, these activities are contrary to American economic policy and a legitimate target of the intelligence community. Nevertheless, these sorts of activities should not be a priority of the intelligence community and the expenditure of resources on this aspect of economic intelligence should not be great. In addition, most of these actions have diplomatic repercussions that must be carefully handled, so they must not be undertaken lightly. This is a low-priority mission for the community and should be engaged in only when there is no pressing need to fulfill other requirements.
Rethinking the IC s Missions and Priorities
Having looked at the current intelligence community missions and priorities, it is evident that while they are mostly adequate, there is room for some change so as to better focus the community on those issues that will be of greatest importance to our nation in the coming years and to redirect resources accordingly. Before redefining these missions and priorities, however, a clear examination of the issues that will face American policymakers in the foreseeable future is necessary. By first defining those issue-areas where the U.S. will have significant interests in the coming years, it will then be easier to set up a framework of missions and priorities which tackle these issue-areas in the most efficient manner.
With the fall of the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991, the main goal of American foreign policy for more than forty years was accomplished and America was left without a major adversary. Since then, American foreign policy has not had a clear focus similar to that of the Cold War. The specific objectivesVital National Interests of that time were replaced by more vague and ambiguous ones that often led to embarrassing international incidents such as the aid mission to Somalia and the long hesitancy to intervene in Bosnia. The first Clinton presidency was marred by these failures, particularly during its first two years. There was little emphasis on international events, and only when an issue reached critical proportions did the administration take note of it. This markedly reactive foreign policy wasted precious opportunities to further American interests abroad and embarrassed America. America must now engage in a more productive and proactive foreign policy that will actively seek out the best ways of protecting and advancing American interests and will preempt threats to our country. Intelligence will play a key role in such a foreign policy by providing policymakers the information they need in a timely manner and by pinpointing threats to our national interests. To create a proactive foreign policy, there must be a clear definition of what our national interests are and how the intelligence community can best serve them. While the post- Cold War world has yet to cement itself into a permanent state of affairs, several trends have arisen that seem to have more permanence and greater relevance to what America s strategic objectives should be in the foreseeable future.
The most important mission that America faces in the world of today is to prevent the rise of a major hostile power anywhere in the world that might challenge American supremacy. America is the only multidimensional (economic, military, technological, and political) superpower and must endeavor to remain in this position. A repeat of the Cold War is to be avoided at all costs, and potential major adversaries should be identified and dealt with before they become too powerful. This is evidently a long term goal, since for the next few years it is evident that no country will match American power and global influence. But this general principle must guide American foreign policy today like the principle of containment guided Cold War policy.
There are several other vital interests that the U.S. needs to protect and advance in the years ahead. It must ensure the permanence of its strategic alliances and the survival of its allies; it must prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their possible use by terrorists; it must prevent the rise of any hostile regional hegemon in Europe and Asia; and it must maintain its technological and military lead over the rest of the world to ensure its safety and security. In all of these areas, America currently faces challenges that must be dealt with successfully.
Besides these vital national interests, there are other important national interests that America should look after. The reduction of the threat that terrorists pose to America and Americans abroad is a very important goal that will increase the safety and security of the country. America should also ensure that no major conflict (especially one involving nuclear weapons) breaks out among other nations and should endeavor to stop such a conflict, if it can be done at a reasonable cost. America must also maintain a healthy and viable economy and must protect against any attempt to disrupt it, whether it be a physical attack or a more unconventional attack on our national information infrastructure.
Having set out these various national interests, it is now easier to prioritize the different missions of intelligence. Given the fact that most of the aforementioned national interests involve political-military objectives and geostrategic considerations, it stands to reason that the main pillars of any framework of intelligence priorities should adequately serve the needs of those policymakers who deal with these issues. While the current priorities structure embodied in PDD-35 does address some of the issues, in particular support to military operations, it lacks the necessary balance to deal effectively with the national interests defined here.
The priorities structure that this paper recommends consists of four tiers, with the highest (and most important) tier divided into two main pillars: SMO and SPO. This structure does not necessarily reflect the relative priorities of different issue areas in a broader national context, but rather it aims to provide the community with a framework that will allow the best use of resources and it identifies those national priorities that rely and will benefit the most from the input of the intelligence community. Each tier should have resources allocated to it according to its place in the hierarchy; and when national security demands it, resources should be diverted from the lower-ranking priorities to higher-ranking ones.
The goal of this framework is to allow for the adequate protection of national interests and the furtherance of national goals while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to redirect resources to meet new threats and to quickly retask the intelligence community. It gives policymakers in particular (and consumers in general) great discretion as to how the community should use its limited resources to provide relevant intelligence. To that end, the tiers (excepting the first one) are not fixed and allow for the shifting of missions upwards or downwards. The main difference between the second and third tier priorities is the potential threat to America s vital interests and to the nation itself. Those threats that are more immediate and directly threaten the survival of our country or the lives of our citizens are in the second tier, while those that, while still major problems, are not as critical to our nation are in the third tier. The main pillars, SMO and SPO, are fixed because of their inherent importance to America s national interests. It is within these two broad pillars that the most critical missions of the community are performed, so changing them or the relative balance between the two would risk endangering our vital interests.
Figure 1: New Priorities Framework
The New Framework
While the existing framework adequately provides for the needs of the battlefield commander, it neglects to address the equally important needs of the diplomat Support to Senior Policy Officials and the high-level official who will be the first line of defense for America s national interests. As Deputy Secretary of State Talbott has said, security, writ large, is basically what foreign policy is all about; it's about making and keeping the United States safe. The senior officials such as the U.S. Trade Representative, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, and others (up to and including the President) who make the decisions that will ultimately affect the course of American foreign policy need as much support as possible from the intelligence community. The needs of these policymakers are met by what is termed national intelligence, which is of a much broader scope than the tactical intelligence required in SMO. High-level policymakers must know as much as possible about the situations they face, and the intelligence community has a significant role to play in providing this information. Policy can only be as good as the intelligence that guides it and, therefore, the protection of American interests rests, to a significant degree (albeit indirectly), with the intelligence community. The community itself was created to provide the President and other national consumers with the information that they require to make the correct judgment call about world events and to warn them of impending crises, and these basic roles must not be forgotten.
Therefore, support to senior policy officials who make U.S. foreign policy (SPO) must stand on equal ground with support to military operations. Subordinating one to the other would bring many dangers and would hamper the ability of our country to adequately protect and enhance its interests. These two missions must be the twin pillars of any post-Cold War set of community priorities. As such, both areas should have enough resources allocated to them. This would entail the reversal of the current trend of increasing the SMO budget to the detriment of the budget allocated for SPO. By balancing the needs of the policy official with the needs of the battlefield commander, the intelligence community will be able to better serve the interests of the country.
SMO, while certainly a very important mission for the intelligence community, must be seen in perspective. Military operations are usually initiated when all other methods of protecting or advancing U.S. interests have been exhausted, therefore SMO is in some respects an insurance policy that will enhance the power of the military and allow it to carry out the goals set by our nation s leaders. Whether it be the protection of Saudi Arabia against Iraqi invasion or the implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia, the military is in essence employed as a means of achieving an end that could not have been achieved by normal diplomatic means (or at least this is the reasoning of those who order the military into action). In this light, it is evident that SMO and SPO are inextricably linked, and that both must be addressed with equal vigor if America is to have a successful and efficient intelligence community.
The emphasis currently being placed on SMOSupport to Military Operations should be tempered and replaced by a more balanced approach, but SMO should not be allowed to fall by the wayside, nor should America halt investment of resources in this area. Currently, American military forces rely on tactical intelligence to provide them an edge over their adversaries. In the coming years, SMO will become increasingly important to the military commanders as the revolution in military affairs takes shape and becomes more of a reality than it is now. Information will become one of the most vital components of a front-line commander s arsenal, and this will lead to a greater reliance on intelligence and its producers.
Another aspect of support to military operations is support to defense planners. This is an important area where the contributions of the intelligence community are invaluable. By acquiring information about weapons research in other countries and about the capabilities of foreign weapons systems, the intelligence community enables defense planners and weapons designers to reshape their efforts to counter any threats in the most effective way possible, thereby maintaining American technological superiority. Maintaining this type of technological superiority on the battlefield underpins our national military strategy, allowing us to field the most potent military forces by making the best use of resources, both technological and human. In many ways, support to the defense planner is inextricably linked with the traditional definition of SMO, since battlefield commanders must know the capabilities of the systems they face in combat and must possess the best weapons that America can produce if they are to fulfill their mission.
Below these two main priorities for the intelligence community there are several other important but subordinate missions
Second Tier Priorities.
Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation are the two second-tier missions with which the intelligence community must be concerned. Each of these areas is of critical importance to the safety of America and deserves significant attention by the intelligence community, but they are part of the overall framework of support to senior policy officials and support to military operations. These two missions are separated from the more general pillars because of their unique transnational characteristics, which the community must deal with. They are also notable because of the increased opportunities for international collaboration that exist in these areas, not only with other intelligence services, but with foreign law enforcement agencies and militaries.
Even though they should typically be subordinated to the two main pillars, there may be occasions when one or both of these issues will become of such importance to the U.S. as to override the existing priorities (e.g. nuclear threat by a terrorist group). These occasions, however, will be rare and will be clearly evident to those involved, enabling them to switch priorities without much difficulty. In the normal course of events, counterproliferation and counterterrorism will be a natural extension of the efforts to fulfill the primary missions of SPO and SMO.
Economic intelligence also falls in the second tier of IC missions. The need for economic intelligence has been reduced (in some respects) since the end of the Cold War, but there is still a clear and vital need for intelligence regarding closed and hostile countries and to support trade negotiations, as well as for more general economic intelligence to protect the American economy. While the volume of economic intelligence produced by the intelligence community may be reduced due to greater reliance on open sources, the importance of the remaining economic intelligence products is just as great as it was during the Cold War, if not greater due to the increased degree of economic globalization. The overall focus of economic intelligence has shifted to monitoring some aspects of the global economy, keeping tabs on a few closed economies, and supporting trade negotiations, but economic intelligence remains an integral part of the community s mission. Economic intelligence is in direct support to national consumers and therefore is closely linked to support to senior policy officials. As such, it may from time to time be deemed of greater importance and have more resources allocated to it, but this would only be a temporary situation.
The third tier of priorities
Third Tier Priorities consists of those missions which are important to the nation but in which the IC should play a collaborative role with other U.S. government agencies. These are counternarcoticsCounternarcotics and the fight against global organized crimeGlobal Organized Crime. Since the community is bound by statutory restrictions on its actions, and since there are several other agencies leading the government s response to these two threats, their place on the priorities list for the intelligence community is not as high as it is on the national agenda. Duplication of effort in these areas is of special concern since DEA and the FBI are also heavily involved. Nevertheless, the community must not neglect its duties in these areas, precisely because they are of great importance to the nation. The community can play a constructive role in these areas by coordinating the intelligence efforts of other agencies abroad and ensuring that they do not duplicate themselves or work at cross-purposes.
Another third tier mission is to help defend the country against the emerging threat of electronic attack and information warfare (IW)Information Warfare. The threat from cyberspace, while still in its infancy, is growing greater every day. The community is not capable of meeting this new threat on its own, however, and other government agencies, ranging from law enforcement to the military, have important roles to play in this area. Two other organizations that should collaborate with the CIA in this area are the FBI and the Department of Defense. Both have a clear interest in investigating this emerging field, in particular defensive measures against IW attacks. A clear and concerted government response to this threat has yet to be formulated, but it is a pressing need that the government must promptly address. The main tasks of the intelligence community in this field, for the moment, are to collect information on the potential IW threat posed by other countries and to develop a covert operations IW capability. The defense of America against an IW threat should be a coordinated effort involving federal law enforcement agencies, the intelligence community, and the military. It is likely that in the near future, as America becomes more dependent on information networks, the importance of this issue will merit its elevation to the second tier of priorities.
Below the third tier priorities are other issue-areas that, while somewhat important to America and to the intelligence community, do not merit a significant deal of attention from the community and should be classified as low priority missionsLow Priority Missions. These are support to humanitarian operations (excluding those involving the deployment of U.S. troops, which fall under SMO); the gathering of environmental information; support to international organizations (such as the UN); and the collection of information regarding world health issues. Emphasizing these issues would turn the intelligence community in general and the CIA in particular into a mere clearinghouse for information and undercut the most important missions of the community. Given the limited resources of the community, it would be irresponsible to allocate more resources to these priorities since that would require the corresponding diminution of the resources used for more critical missions. It is important to remember that resource allocation within the intelligence community is in essence a zero-sum game, so that resources added to one area must be taken away from another. Thus, in keeping with their low priority, these areas should not have significant resources devoted to them by the intelligence community.
Support to humanitarian operations should not be a priority for the intelligence community because it does not require the unique capabilities of intelligence and it does not significantly advance America s strategic goals and national interest (if any humanitarian operations do, then the military will most likely be involved, turning the situation into SMO). While in an ideal world it would be morally correct to provide all the assistance possible to these operations, the realities of our world make this approach a wasteful mistake and a drain on vital resources needed elsewhere.
Much the same applies to the deliberate collection of environmental information. While there is some unique information that the intelligence community can provide to the agencies already in charge of environmental monitoring, these agencies do not require the services of the community to perform their functions and can do without community input. Given that the current intelligence budget is limited, it would be unwise to divert significant funds and resources into such a non-critical (for the community and the agencies it would support) pursuit. While some might argue that using intelligence satellites to collect environmental data is a legitimate use of community resources, the truth is that current intelligence satellite data is mostly overkill for environmental purposes. The environmental community would be better served by buying commercial satellite imagery, which has adequate resolution for their purposes. Using community assets would be a colossal waste of a very expensive and very limited resource that would hinder the ability of the community to perform its vital missions. This does not preclude the use of historical imagery which can be given to environmental monitoring agencies after it has gone through the routine declassification procedures. In general, it seems that those who work with environmental issues would be well served by a carefully designed declassification program to provide them with historical data, not with current, real-time collection by the community.
Support to international organizations should be a low-priority task for the intelligence community for a fairly evident reason: the main duty of the intelligence community is to support the American government, not these entities. An exception, however, should be made when such support would be in the national interest and would significantly further American policy objectives. The intelligence community should only engage in this function when there is a clear advantage for the United States in doing so, as was the case with the UN WMD compliance team that has periodically visited Iraq since the end of the Gulf War. Resources should not be wasted on these endeavors otherwise since the results will necessarily be less than spectacular and the risks great.
Collection of information regarding health issues is another very low-priority task for the intelligence community. Given that there are already a multitude of other government agencies and international organizations already collecting these data, which is for the most part open source (and when it isn t is mostly unknown), it would be a wasteful duplication of effort to collect and analyze the same data unless there is some special tasking from senior policymakers that requires it. For the most part, the civilian and academic analyses done outside the intelligence community are more than adequate to meet the needs of those working in this area, so the community should stay away from it.
Consequences for the IC
The most important recommendation put forth by this paper is the redefinition of the current priorities framework and its replacement by the new four-tiered framework. This entails the issuance of a new Presidential Decision Directive superseding or amending PDD-35. This would give the community a new official framework like the one that exists currently under PDD-35.
The redefined missions and priorities for the intelligence community also have some consequences for the structure of the intelligence community. First and foremost, they shift some emphasis away from the military and onto the CIA. The most direct means of achieving this end are unfortunately the least politically viable options. The first option is providing greater budgetary authority to the DCI over the various components of the community, something that has been repeatedly opposed by the Department of Defense. Another option would involve greater community integration under the DCI, something which is again opposed by the Department of Defense and by other community agencies.
Given the slim prospect of these recommendations being implemented, alternatives, while not as effective, should be considered. First, the budget for national intelligence (SPO) should be protected from erosion and the growth of the budget for SMO should be slowed. The transfer of functions from national intelligence agencies such as the CIA to the Department of Defense should be halted and reversed if possible. This is especially important in the case of air-breathing photo-reconnaissance, which the CIA recently ceded to the military. Another possible reform would entail greater cooperation between the DCI and the DoD (the SecDef specifically) to ensure coordination of effort and avoid inefficiencies, especially in today s restrictive budgetary climate. It is important to note that institutional cooperation is more important than personal cooperation, since institutional ties remain even when individuals leave and are replaced. Therefore, an effort to improve institutional ties between the two offices should be devised. The Priorities Interagency Working Group should be tasked to monitor the implementation of the new missions and priorities framework within the community. This would provide a good way of measuring the success of the implementation of the new framework and identify areas for improvement.
Furthermore, consumers of intelligence should be constantly polled about the intelligence they receive and its relevance to their work. Some system of consumer feedback would enable the Priorities Interagency Working Group to determine what areas of the framework have not been well implemented or need correction. It would also help avoid irrelevance in the intelligence product, something that the framework is designed to combat.
In general, the new framework of intelligence missions and priorities would require some adjustments to the current structure of the community, in addition to the curtailing of some superfluous missions (environment and health, among others) and the reassessment of the unchecked growth of some programs, mainly in the area of SMO. Since the framework is designed as a guide for the efforts of the community, its main effect will be in the type of output produced by the community, and not in its organizational structure.
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