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This day in history: committee recommends revision to Defense Attaché Service

By DIA History Office

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May 15, 2015 — In 1970, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Donald V. Bennett convened the Defense Attaché System Review Committee to assess all aspects of the Defense Attaché System (DAS). On May 15, 1970, the Committee concluded that the DAS mission, organization, status and administrative policies required revision. The Committee’s final report identified 25 areas for improvement, including emphasizing the representational role of military attachés, reversing the negative trend in the number of qualified attaché nominees and reworking DIA’s management and control procedures over the attachés.

Lt. Gen. Bennett accepted the recommendations and, as part of a larger agency reorganization, established a new Directorate for Attaché Affairs led by a general officer who reported directly to the DIA command element. The new directorate provided a single focal point within the agency and the Department of Defense (DOD) for the overall coordination and direction of the policies, plans and programs for the DAS.

The name was changed to the Defense Attaché Service in 2014 to acknowledge the DAS as a service provider for customers including the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, the secretaries of the military departments, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chiefs of the military services, the combatant commanders and the integrated intelligence centers.

 Defense attachés are appointed by the secretary of defense and serve as senior defense officials/defense attachés (SDOs/DATTS) responsible for all DOD activities and personnel assigned to the embassy of the country in which they serve. SDOs/DATTs are the primary military adviser to the ambassador and country team on military issues and developments who plan and coordinate U.S. military activities with that nation’s armed forces; observe and report on military developments; oversee U.S. military training programs; and support DOD and other VIP visits.

 Defense attachés are an integral part of the DIA team. The agency provides intelligence on foreign militaries and operating environments that delivers decision advantage to prevent and decisively win wars. DIA collects and analyzes key data using a variety of tools, and deploys its personnel globally, alongside warfighters and interagency partners, to defend America’s national security interests.