Lt Gen Joseph Carroll, USAF
October 1961 - September 1969

As the first director of DIA, Lt. Gen. Joseph Carroll faced the profound challenge of creating a new centralized intelligence organization in the face of opposition from the military services, and at a time of increased Cold War tensions. Carroll not only initiated DIA operations, he established precedents and procedures that would allow it to carry out its mission: to produce and manage foreign military intelligence for the Department of Defense. Such support was essential at a time when the United States was still solidifying its superpower status and facing ideological challenges, as well as threats to national security.

When he became director, General Carroll was the premier military intelligence official, reporting directly to the secretary of defense. His job was to consolidate most of the previously separate intelligence activities of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and render intelligence support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military services and military forces, as well as other policymaking agencies. The principal objectives in establishing DIA were to obtain unity of effort among all components of the DoD in developing military intelligence and to strengthen the overall capacity of the DoD for the collection, production and dissemination of intelligence information. Other objectives included ensuring a more efficient allocation of scarce intelligence resources, more effective management of all DoD intelligence activities, and the elimination of all duplicate facilities, organizations and tasks. A transfer of intelligence functions and resources from the military services was completed on a time-phased basis to avoid degrading the effectiveness of defense intelligence during the transition.


"Such support was essential at a time when the United States was still solidifying its superpower status and facing ideological challenges, as well as threats to national security."


Establishing the organization without compromising effectiveness was essential in a time of continuing crises. During the summer of 1961, when DIA was still in the planning stage, the Soviet Union stoked a fire in the Cold War by building a wall in Germany to partition the city of Berlin. This fed into the growing hostility generated by the U.S. and USSR: the Soviet shoot-down of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in 1960, and the ill-fated, U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in the spring of 1961. This hostility also showed itself in the rhetoric of the two superpowers. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, for example, said that the Cold War was essentially a conflict between those engaged in the communist revolutionary movement and those who supported the principles of the United Nations charter. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev delivered his own salvo a few months later, when he stated that the international balance of power now favored the socialist nations. The U.S. intended to prove Khrushchev wrong. The need for a centralized military intelligence organization was critical to policymakers like Robert McNamara, who passed on implementation to Carroll. The general fulfilled his orders by establishing DIA with a handful of employees in borrowed office space on October 1, 1961.

The Agency met its first major intelligence test a year later when photo analysts detected Soviet missiles in Cuba. Besides confirmation of the equipment and sites, DIA analysts provided valuable intelligence on capabilities and deployment that helped inform the decisions made by President John F. Kennedy and his advisors. As a result, the Kennedy administration expanded the educational and production capabilities of the Agency. DIA established the Defense Intelligence School the same month as the Cuban Missile Crisis, followed by the Intelligence Career Development Program the following February. On January 1, 1963, DIA activated the Production Center. Establishing the production capability necessitated merging several military service production elements and occupying the A and B buildings at Arlington Hall Station in northern Virginia. The Agency added the Automated Data Processing Center on February 19, the Dissemination Center on March 31, and the Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate on April 30. DIA then took over the staff support functions of the J-2, Joint Staff, on July 1, following the disestablishment of the J-2. The final function DIA assumed from the military services was responsibility for the Defense AttachĂ© Service on July 1, 1965.

During these early years, DIA's attempt to assert its role as DoD's central military intelligence organization met with continuing opposition from the individual services. In countering this, Carroll showed that the diplomatic dimension to his leadership was finely developed. Even as he consolidated intelligence functions within the Agency, he was careful not to encroach on, or allow other policymakers to assign to DIA, matters that should properly remain within the individual services.

While DIA's director and his subordinates engaged in those internal skirmishes, they also made sure the Agency fulfilled its mission in dealing with the escalating world conflicts that marked the 1960s. The Vietnam War severely tested the fledgling Agency's ability to produce accurate, timely intelligence for operational forces, as well as national-level strategic planners. The war also led to increased POW/MIA analytical duties. DIA had been assigned limited responsibility for POW/MIA analysis, but in 1966, its role expanded when the Agency assumed chairmanship of the Interagency POW Intelligence Ad Hoc Committee. In addition to keeping track of the Soviet Union, DIA analysts focused their attention on China — especially after it detonated an atomic bomb in 1964, and when Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution — and other countries and regions as problems arose. Other crisis issues testing intelligence responsiveness in the late 1960s included the Six-Day War between the Arab States and Israel, and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The decade of the 1960s was a dynamic era in military history, and Carroll and DIA contributed to that dynamism. DIA was the most significant organizational development in military intelligence since World War II.