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DIA Provides Strategic Warning for the Next Generation
May 11, 2012
The Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA's) 2012-2017 Strategy reinvigorates one of the agency's core missions: to provide strategic warning to decision-makers. One of DIA's key objectives in the Strategy is to "develop and implement an integrated defense intelligence warning capability to prevent strategic surprise, deter conflict and identify opportunities."
The Defense Warning Working Group, led by the Directorate for Intelligence (J2), is DIA's designated champion for this objective. DIA's J2 staff has already started transforming the warning process to affect how warning intelligence is collected, assessed and conveyed to decision-makers and warfighters.
The warning function has a long and varied history. U.S. intelligence organizations in the late 1940s developed lists of indicators for key activities that an adversary would have to take to prepare for war. This indications and warning methodology proved effective in foreseeing many threats throughout the Cold War.
Today's strategic environment is more complex and creates greater demands on defense intelligence. Actors capable of inflicting harm on the United States and our international partners are more numerous and have a wider range of options, from unconventional warfare to cyber attacks, and even to conventional warfare or the use of weapons of mass destruction. Recent conflicts and economic turmoil have also shown us that economic, social and cultural factors must be taken into account in intelligence analysis.
DoD must, therefore, have the capability to warn policymakers against a wide range of potential threats. Such threats are treated separately in defense warning as enduring warning issues and emerging warning issues. Different threats require different methods and techniques to track.
Enduring warning issues are clearly identified, longstanding threats. These types of threats are normally tied to operational planning. Traditional indicator-based methods, adapted to web-based technologies, are used to monitor most of these types of problems.
Emerging warning issues are potentially threatening developments that have not yet fully coalesced. The intentions and capabilities of the actors may not be clear, or the scope and character of the threat may not yet be fully understood. Techniques to identify and track emerging warning issues rely on more flexible solutions such as "red teaming," a structured, iterative process using trained personnel to provide partner and adversary perspectives on a given situation or issue.
The most significant change to DIA's approach to warning is the use of Communities of Interest (COIs) to integrate the warning effort. COIs bring together analysts, collectors, operators and other subject-matter experts to address enduring and emerging warning issues. The focal point for warning COIs are the combatant commands that are primarily responsible for warning within their regional or functional areas. COI participants vary, but normally include the commands, defense intelligence agencies and other government agencies with expertise in given subject areas.
As the designated mission manager for warning, the DIA J2 staff integrates the defense warning effort as well as acting as a facilitator and catalyst for defense warning initiatives. The staff is transforming the warning effort by collaborating with stakeholders and integrating more than 200 analysts, collectors, managers and senior executives in a process that harnesses both traditional and innovative approaches to warning. The end goal is to fulfill one of DIA's core missions: providing strategic warning that gives decision-makers time and flexibility to avoid or mitigate potential threats to U.S. interests worldwide.
DIA is the nation’s premier all-source military intelligence organization.
It provides the nation’s most authoritative assessments of foreign military intentions and capabilities. The agency’s four core competencies -- human intelligence, all-source analysis, counterintelligence and technical intelligence -- enable military operations while also informing policy-makers at the defense and national levels.
DIA’s mission is unique and no other agency matches its military expertise across such a broad range of intelligence disciplines.
This page was last updated March 21, 2013.