In 1978, the Deputy Secretary of Defense observed that, "The DIA has made laudable progress in improving the quality of its intelligence products and in focusing more sharply on the needs and concerns of its consumers. I am prepared now to support several additional steps which I believe will enhance the Agency's analysis and intelligence community standing." This resulted in a major reorganization of DIA, completed under the stewardship of General Tighe in August 1979, which established a basic infrastructure that lasted nearly a decade.
Following Executive Order 12036 which restructured the Intelligence Community and clarified DIA's national and departmental responsibilities, General Tighe reorganized DIA in 1979 establishing five major directorates: production, operations, resources, external affairs, and J-2 support. He sought to improve the flow of intelligence to the Secretary of Defense and other principal consumers. However, the loss of intelligence resources throughout the 1970's limited the Intelligence Community's ability to collect and produce timely intelligence and ultimately contributed to intelligence shortcomings in Iran, Afghanistan, and other strategic areas.
Despite limited resources, the Agency's requirements for intelligence production had increased. In 1978, analysts focused on Lebanon, China, South Africa, terrorism, and Vietnam POW/MIA issues. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Iranian monarchy, and the taking of American hostages in the American embassy in Teheran in 1979 resulted in additional DIA task forces to provide intelligence concerning these crises. Furthermore, the Vietnamese takeover in Phnom Penh, the China-Vietnam border war, the overthrow of Amin in Uganda, the North-South Yemen dispute, the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, troubles in Pakistan, Libya-Egypt border clashes, the Sandinista takeover in Nicaragua, and the Soviet movement of combat troops to Cuba during the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty II, made this an extremely busy time for DIA.
DIA also provided intelligence support to the newly established Rapid Deployment Force during Operation BRIGHT STAR, against a backdrop of Congress approving budget increases for Defense to support "readiness, sustainability, and modernization." Analysts, meanwhile, were preoccupied with Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Iraq's attempts to seize Iranian oil fields and the resulting war, the aborted US hostage rescue attempt in Iran, and the civil war in El Salvador.
DIA came of age in the 1980's by focusing on the intelligence needs of field commanders as well as national-level decision-makers, and by 1981 had demonstrated its importance as an integral part of the US Intelligence Community. Publication of the first Soviet Military Power was greeted with wide acclaim, and the long-awaited ground breaking for the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (DIAC) in April boosted the morale of DIA employees tremendously.
However, world crises continued to flare. These events included two Libyan SU-22's that were shot down by American F-14's over the Gulf of Sidra, and in the Middle East, an Israeli F-16 raid to destroy an Iranian nuclear reactor, two Iranian hijackings, Iranian air raids on Kuwait, and the release of the American hostages in Iran.