LTG Samuel V. Wilson, USA

May 1976 - August 1977


General Wilson, who began his tenure as the Director, DIA in May 1976, completely reorganized the Defense Intelligence Agency. He assured the J-2's of the U&S Commands and the Services, however, of his "commitment to the pursuit of excellence within DIA, particularly in support of the operating forces." He pledged that one of his major goals as Director would be to stress "the importance of military operational intelligence requirements." The two themes--excellence and broad support--were illustrative of how far the Agency had come and the shift in focus since the first major DIA reorganization in 1966 when the primary themes emphasized introspection and keeping abreast of requirements. Moreover, while the seeds were planted in 1976, a decade would pass before there was substantial evidence that both goals had become Agency priorities.

The reorganization of DIA in July 1976 was the first step in the three-part plan of Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Ellsworth to improve the quality of Defense intelligence. Next, he set a series of 60 goals, which in effect were the short- and long-term objectives mentioned by General Wilson in his announcement of the DIA reorganization. The third part of the plan was to use DIA "as a crucible in which the producer and user can meet to forge the improvements in the product that both desire."

DIA initiated in-depth studies to examine short-term objectives, and the first changes were implemented in the fall of 1976. This represented the beginning of many adjustments to the organizational structure of the Agency, which would span the next few years. These refinements were the roots for a period of stabilization that had fully materialized by 1979.

As the Department of Defense sought to centralize its activities to cope with pressures to reduce resources, DIA adjusted to the changed environment. The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) (ASD/I) was designated Director of Defense Intelligence, and a Defense Intelligence Board was established. The President also set up a National Foreign Intelligence Board. DIA strengthened intelligence support to consumers in Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and the Unified and Specified Commands and completed modernization of the National Military Intelligence Center.

In 1977, a charter revision clarified DIA's relationship with the JCS and the Secretary of Defense. Specifically, DIA staff supervision would be exercised for the Secretary of Defense by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence with respect to resources, and by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs regarding policy matters. Analytical efforts centered on the death of Mao Zedong, aircraft hijackings, the Israeli raid on Entebbe Airport, unrest in South Africa, and continuing Middle East dissension. The Deputy Director and Chief of Staff positions were discontinued briefly from July 1976 to September 1977.