DIRECTORS OF DIA
 
ABOUT / HISTORY / DIRECTORS / LTG DONALD BENNETT

LTG Donald Bennett, USA
September 1969 - August 1972

1969 began with the inauguration of President Richard Nixon. The change in the Nation's chief executive was echoed by a change in DIA's directorship later that year. With Lt. Gen. Donald Bennett's assumption of command, there was a change in style — but not in the substance of the Agency's leadership. Bennett's tenure witnessed transformations within and outside the Agency, including administrative reorganization, analytical refocusing, and shifting alliances and policies in foreign and military affairs.

Throughout the 1960s, the Department of Defense studied many ways to improve defense intelligence, which led to DIA's second major reorganization in July 1970. The early 1970s were transitional years, as the Agency's focus shifted from the consolidation of internal and external management roles to that of making the Agency a more effective and perceptive producer of national intelligence. Such improvement proved difficult at first, due to sweeping manpower decrements that reduced the Agency's workforce by 31% from 1968 to 1975, causing mission reductions and organizational restructuring.

The early 1970s was a period of transition and maturation for DIA. Under Bennett's leadership, the Agency expanded its influence as a producer of intelligence.

 

"With General Bennett's assumption of command, there was a change in the style — but not in the substance of the Agency's leadership."

 

During Bennett's tenure, reorganization occurred at many levels within the Intelligence Community. His changes solidified the Agency's position within the executive and military establishments. In 1970, DIA performed major revisions on the attaché system and established the Directorate for Estimates. In November 1971, President Nixon reorganized the national Intelligence Community to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The DIA director was designated program manager for the General Defense Intelligence Program. Another change was the establishment of the assistant secretary of defense (intelligence) to supervise defense intelligence programs and provide the principal point for management and policy coordination with the Director of Central Intelligence, the CIA and other intelligence officials outside the DoD.

It was vital that intelligence be effective during this time of new military and foreign policy initiatives. The Agency's main focus during this time was on withdrawing from the Vietnam War without causing the fall of South Vietnam. To prevent that from happening, President Nixon ordered the U.S. military into Cambodia to stop communist military forces from using it as a base to mount attacks on South Vietnam. The U.S. incursion into Cambodia resulted in DIA analysts putting in thousands of hours of overtime.

The Agency's workload increased as DIA was tasked with providing arms control support during the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. DIA also contributed intelligence to help the president in his pursuit of strengthening relations with China. Other challenges facing Bennett and DIA included the rise of Ostpolitik in Germany and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Middle East.