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Association of Former Intelligence Officers
Remarks by LTG Ronald L. Burgess, Jr.
Director, Defense Intelligence Agency
August 12, 2011
(as prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for being here. It is a professional honor and personal privilege for me to address this distinguished group of current and former intelligence officers.
For 36 years, this association has served in many ways as the public face of the United States Intelligence Community, telling our story in a way that few others can. Your advocacy and education have been remarkable and I thank each of you and the association for all that you have done.
This national summer luncheon comes at an important time for the nation, and also in the history at DIA. It gives me a chance to talk a little about DIA's contributions and evolution over time -not history for history's sake, but rather to throw some light on how the past 50 years bear upon the agency today ...
… and how that history serves as foundation for the agency's future operations and contributions.
As we know from personal experience, our histories inform the present and shape our futures. Or as Shakespeare wrote: "what is past is prologue." It is true for nations, regions of the world and it is also true for organizations and agencies, such as DIA.
I would like to begin with a memorandum that came out of the Joint Chiefs a little more than fifty years ago. On 13 April 1961, the chiefs were responding to a number of questions posed by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ("snowflakes" of their day). The Secretary was determined to create a "Defense Intelligence Agency" --- and he had questions for the chiefs about the future agency's span of control, its role and location within the Department of Defense.
Within their response endorsing the agency, the Joint Chiefs included the following statement. And I quote from it directly:
"national intelligence and military intelligence are indivisible in practice.”
The Joint Chiefs did not say these two things were complementary. They did not write that they are mutually supportive. The chiefs stated that national intelligence and military intelligence are "indivisible in practice."
This was an important declaration at the height of the Cold War, before the Cuban Missile Crisis, before Vietnam and a quarter century before Goldwater-Nichols. Indeed, it rings even more true today than it did a half century ago.
And we see that in the direct line running from that statement in 1961 to DIA's efforts today to integrate all-source analysis, intelligence collection and resources across the Department of Defense -and its role as the functional intersection between the national Intelligence Community and defense intelligence.
On a personal note, I cannot tell you how fortunate we are that Secretary McNamara side-stepped the JCS recommendation to name the new organization the "Military Intelligence Agency."
I suspect the resulting acronym [MIA] might have reflected what the Joint Chiefs at the time really thought about the Secretary's idea. But that is a story for another time.
Within months of this back-and-forth between the Secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the draft directive for DIA was issued and announced publicly, and the agency stood up on 1 October 1961.
While the agency's authorities, responsibilities, footprint and size have grown significantly since then, its responsibility for integrating military and national intelligence continues to this day-integrating intelligence collection, analysis and resources.
At the time of its creation, the new agency had 25 people and 2,000 square feet of borrowed space in the Pentagon. Within two years, it would expand into rented space in Arlington known as the Cafritz Building--- also called "the Brewery" because the section of the building not rented by DIA housed a beer production facility. The new agency also moved into leftover Second World War buildings known as Arlington Hall. Some of the buildings were so old that employees feared the weight of the newly ordered safes would collapse the floors.
The new agency needed more of everything: more people, resources, photo interpreter light tables and the list goes on. But what the agency needed most was time, something that no one at the time could predict, was in very short supply.
The first test for the agency came during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It was in September 1962 that a DIA photo interpreter noticed that Cuban surface-to-air missile sites were arranged in a pattern similar to those used by the then Soviet Union to protect ICBM bases. Combined with some HUMINT claiming the Soviets were putting missiles in Cuba, led the DIA director at the time, Lieutenant General Joseph Carroll, to call for more U-2 flights over Cuba.
The U-2 missions were eventually flown and the very first flight photographed a convoy of Soviet medium range ballistic missiles just before it pulled off the road under a canopy of trees. The flight path for this mission was selected because of DIA's analysis.
After the Soviets crated and removed the missiles and the IL-28 light bombers, President Kennedy asked DIA to brief the nation. John Hughes, who was a special assistant to Lieutenant General Carroll and a brilliant former Army photo interpreter, took the stage in the State Department auditorium. Introduced by Secretary of Defense McNamara, John Hughes briefed the nation, using many of the slides and photos that the President had ordered declassified.
You can find video from that briefing on DIA's public website.
In less than two years since the agency's creation, DIA already established itself during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a vital part of the intelligence community. The agency's experience during the crisis impressed upon the employees the critical mission of preventing strategic surprise -a mission that endures to this day.
It also set the bar a little too high: we haven't had a Secretary of Defense introduce an analyst for a briefing since then.
The war in Vietnam came to dominate the 1960s, with DIA providing current and long-term analysis to commanders and defense policymakers on the strength of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, their logistics and air defense capabilities. DIA sent people into the theater, including professionals able to translate and exploit captured enemy documents. DIA also was given responsibility for collecting and analyzing intelligence on prisoners of war and missing in action.
DIA also provided the intelligence in support of the planned raid to free POWs held at Son Tay in 1970, including a HUMINT source in Hanoi who claimed two days before the raid was launched that the prisoners had been moved to another camp. The raid went forward on the chance the HUMINT source was wrong or that the captives had been returned to Son Tay. As it turned out, the source had been correct and the raid was not successful.
The 1970s witnessed DIA's growing involvement in the collection and production of intelligence required for strategic arms control negotiations with the then-Soviet Union including Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I, SALT II) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaties.
Later, that work grew into the provision of intelligence support required for a new nuclear deterrence strategy required by Presidential Directive 59, requested by President Carter. It was a radical shift, from counter-value targeting to counter-valance --- its aim was to deny Soviet military victory. When it came time to turn the theoretical strategy into a workable operational nuclear war plan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff turned to DIA. The agency did the analytic spade-work needed to build a new Single Integrated Operational Plan, or "SIOP."
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 signaled for many a new level of Soviet adventurism and concerns quickly grew about Moscow's military build-up. Following Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the new Secretary of Defense "Cap" Weinberger travelled to Europe to brief NATO allies on Soviet military developments. Eager to educate the public about Moscow's intentions and growing capabilities, a number of NATO ministers asked Weinberger if there was a way to declassify the slides, pictures and charts he used during his briefings.
Weinberger turned to DIA and the resulting effort came to be known as the Soviet Military Power series, a decade-long effort. The production of ten volumes chronicling Soviet military capabilities and intentions reflected an agency that came of age in the 1980s, producing national-level intelligence as well as the intelligence support required by field commanders. Secretary Weinberger also presided over the opening of the agency's new headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base in 1984, which allowed the agency to consolidate many of its functions in one location.
With the highly publicized hijackings of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, and TWA Flight 847, 1985 became known as the "Year of the Terrorist." DIA provided analytic and collection support during these crises, and also during the wars in Central America, Operation El Dorado Canyon -the 1986 airstrike on Libya -and also provided support for the nation's growing counter-narcotics efforts. DIA's Central America Joint Intelligence Team was the nation's first national-level intelligence fusion center a model followed by institutions today such as the National Counterterrorism Center.
In 1986, Congress passed the landmark legislation known as the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which in part designated DIA a combat support agency.
The 1980s rolled into the 1990s through a succession of crises, the scope of which demonstrated DIA's ability to flex from the national to the operational, including the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Operation Just Cause (in Panama), collapse of the Soviet Union, and Desert Shield and Desert Storm (what we now refer to as "Gulf War One").
Let me share with you one vignette from the run-up to Desert Shield and Desert Storm that gives you a sense of DIA's support to the defense and national policymakers.
On July 19, 1990, DIA received the first reports of two Iraqi divisions near the Kuwaiti border. Two days later DIA raised the watch condition ("WATCHCON") from Level-4 to Level-3. As more intelligence flowed in on Iraqi movements, DIA raised the WATCHCON to Level-2 three days later on July 24. On July 27, DIA's senior-most intelligence officer for the Middle East told Kuwait's ambassador to Washington, during a Pentagon meeting that, "Iraq is going to invade Kuwait." On August 1, DIA raised the alert to WATCHCON Level 1.
This was the first time any command or agency had ever assumed this level of watch condition in advance of a conflict. The very next day, three Iraqi divisions rolled into Kuwait and the war was on.
In response, DIA's intelligence support evolved quickly from a warning problem to operational support for the commanders in the field and policymakers back in Washington. DIA deployed more than 100 analysts to Riyadh to provide direct support to General Schwarzkopf.
The 1990s were a period of change for the agency and the nation. In 1992, DIA was given responsibility for the Missile and Space Intelligence Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and also the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center, now known as the National Center for Medical Intelligence.
DIA provided intelligence support during Haiti and the Balkans Crisis during the mid-1990s. And in 1995, the Defense Human Intelligence Service was established within the agency, which to this day includes both overt collection as well as collection by DIA's clandestine case officers.
The next century opened, of course, with the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. And that event for DIA, like the nation, divided how we think about time. There is a "before 9/11." And there is an "after 9/11."
While DIA deployed its personnel forward during Vietnam, during Desert Storm and Haiti, our deployments since 9/11 have increased by an order of magnitude.
Some have observed that DIA went from a headquarters-based agency with small numbers of deployed personnel to a forward-deployed agency, supported by a headquarters in Washington.
After DIA was given responsibility for the civilian intelligence professionals at the combatant commands, the majority of agency employees now work outside the National Capital Region that is a significant demographic and cultural shift for an agency that historically was seen and thought of itself as a "beltway mothership" agency.
Today, DIA is twice the size it was before 9/11, around 16,500 personnel, and it supports approximately 800 personnel forward deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. We're 80-percent civilian and 20-percent uniformed military. We have hundreds at the combatant commands and others are located at our overseas regional support centers that operate and maintain our classified networks and still others are located at our liaison offices in Ottawa, London, Canberra, Auckland and elsewhere.
DIA is truly a global agency, operating 24/7wherever our forces are engaged and at every point along the chain of command, from the daily intelligence updates for the unified and specified combatant commands and the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President's Daily Brief.
Let me give you a sense of the span and depth of the agency's reach and responsibilities today.
DIA today has three core operational capabilities: all-source analysis, HUMINT and counterintelligence. DIA also manages the nation's premier worldwide top secret network -JWICS. DIA operations are derived from twin sets of authorities: Title 10 national defense mission and Title 50 national intelligence mission. Both are resident within one agency. And in those twin sets of authorities we see a reflection of what the Joint Chiefs wrote back in 1961 national intelligence and military intelligence are indivisible.
But the mission is a lot more than simply running the agency itself. The director also has a number of other jobs, including:
- Program manager for the General Defense Intelligence Program, which is larger than DIA's budget and funds important intelligence activities at the combatant commands and the services.
- Program manager for all DoD Human Intelligence, that includes, overt, and clandestine HUMINT activities undertaken by DIA, the services and the combatant commands.
- Same for counterintelligence, following the transfer of the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) into DIA. The DIA Director manages all DoD counterintelligence. Our guiding principle for managing HUMINT and CI across DIA, the services and commands remains "centralized management; decentralized execution.”
- In addition, the DIA Director also serves as the Intelligence Community's Functional Manager for all Measurement and Signature Intelligence
- DIA also oversees all-source analysis conducted throughout the Department of Defense, including that work conducted at the combatant commands, the military services and the service centers, such as the National Ground Intelligence Center and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.
- DIA is also executive agent for a number of Director of National Intelligence centers, including the:
- Underground Facilities Analysis Center;
- National Media Exploitation Center;
- POW-MIA analytic cell; and
- National Intelligence University, which will include DIA's National Defense Intelligence College
- Lastly, DIA also manages all of the nation's military attachés, our soldier diplomats stationed worldwide
OK --- that is the "box-chart," 10,000 foot view of DIA and defense intelligence. Let's talk for a moment about what DIA brings to the table today.
Last year, one of our defense intelligence officers served as the President's Daily Briefer -the first time the position has been held by someone not at CIA.
As Libya kicked off, the Director of National Intelligence selected DIA to write the military developments in Libya for the President's daily intelligence briefing.
Today our all-source analysts write for the President's Daily Brief, prepare target packages for national-level special mission units conducting kinetic raids against
Taliban high value targets, and provide strategic assessments for commanders in Kabul or Baghdad.
DIA also maintains a full spectrum Human Intelligence capability, including interrogators, debriefers and clandestine case officers.
At the same time, the agency employs a very capable counterintelligence capability and also has responsibility for managing all Measurement and Signature Intelligence for the entire Intelligence Community.
That is DIA today and it is remarkable to see the agency's span of responsibilities and ability to flex and respond to customers at so many different levels -literally from the Oval Office to the recruitment of assets in foreign capitals.
In so many ways, the story of DIA's evolution is one that finds the agency continuing to serve as the engine integrating national and military intelligence.
The need to function smoothly as a team, across the department and across the IC, is only going to grow in importance as the budget gets tighter. And it is going to get tighter beyond the next fiscal year and I understand the impact and the difficulties it will cause. That is just the reality we have got and we have to work through it. All the easy choices have already been made
That leaves only hard choices ahead and we will have to make difficult trade-offs. In those choices we have to manage risk. And I have communicated to my workforce at all levels that we will have to surface and elevate the trade-offs to be considered.
The challenges on the inside are more than matched by the challenges we see in our external operating environment.
As anyone who can read the newspaper headlines can plainly see, it is difficult to overstate the enormity of today’s intelligence challenges, and that was true before the continuing unrest swept across the Middle East and North Africa. We face today a broad spectrum of current and potential challenges, threats and adversaries that are as dissimilar as they are complex.
Ongoing counter-terrorist, counter-insurgency and conventional military operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and elsewhere.
The President has released his strategy for Afghanistan and we'll be watching closely as the Afghan security forces take on the security lead as we transition.
There has been a resumption of attacks against our troops in Iraq, with support from Iran, as we draw closer to the December 2011 withdrawal date.
We have a protracted battle underway in Libya.
The Arab Spring has given way to a hot Arab Summer in Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. There is no guarantee of a good outcome across the region or in any of the countries. And there is a broad range of potential implications for the United States, our allies, the Iranians and al-Qaida.
As Yemen devolves, we see al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) with an expanded freedom of maneuver. Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida lives on under new management.
The recent, tragic attack in Norway reminds us of the damage individuals can inflict, which underscores the threat posed by self-radicalized "lone-wolves." We have only to look at the November 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood (13 KIA, 29 WIA) to appreciate this threat, including within our own ranks.
We also have enduring counter-proliferation, ballistic missile, counter-intelligence, conventional military and weapons of mass destruction issues associated with problematic regional nations such as Iran and North Korea.
China's military modernization continues and it bears watching so that we understand not only Beijing's new capabilities, but also its intentions.
The simultaneity of these challenges creates a profoundly complex environment. In that complexity lies uncertainty --- and the potential for strategic surprise at any point along the spectrum of conflict, including war between major nation states over vital interests.
Most notably, while this nation has focused mainly on the low end of the spectrum of conflict since 9/11, other nations see this period as their own "window of opportunity" with consequences that still await this nation beyond Afghanistan, al-Qaida, Libya and Iraq.
Let me close by saying that DIA today remains true to our legacy, born in the depths of the Cold War, but operating today in a very different environment. The agency continues to serve as the bridge between, and the engine integrating, national intelligence and military intelligence.
It has not always been easy and DIA did not always have the requisite authorities. But as the agency approaches its 50th anniversary, we are closer than ever to realizing the full potential of this agency.
What guides the men and women of DIA through all of our efforts are two beliefs that serve as this agency's compass during difficult times -whether that difficulty is in managing risk as we cut the budget or in having to deliver unwelcome analysis to the nation's senior-most commanders or policymakers.
The first is that while most of our work is secret, DIA's mission is a public trust. And we have to earn that trust every day with every decision.
Second: integrity is needed most when it is hardest to maintain. And our people are tested every single day, in ways that many of us sitting in this room today cannot imagine.
As a career military officer honored to lead this mixed civilian and military workforce, I am filled with pride and also humility at the weight of responsibility carried by the men and women of DIA, many of whom have known only wartime service since 9/11.
I will share with you what fills me with confidence in our people. It is that no matter how difficult our challenges are, every man and women inside DIA knows that the people we serve, whether it is troops in combat or Presidents weighing matters of peace or war, carry far greater burdens.
At the end of the day, our job is to help them make the nation's most critical decisions, by speaking truth to power, whether or not the news is what they want to hear.
That is the standard we hold ourselves to because that is what our customers, and the nation, deserve.
I think former Director of DIA, LTG Patrick Hughes said it best:
"Never underestimate the power of this agency to cause change inside the Department of Defense and even inside the government. You can do a lot of things by just speaking truth to power from the vantage point of knowledge that this agency can develop. "
It is what we strive to achieve every day.
And more than ever it is a team sport, across DIA, across the Department of Defense, the Intelligence Community and with many of our industry partners.
Thank you for your time and for everything you do for the nation.
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This page was last updated November 14, 2013.