DIRECTORS OF DIA
 
ABOUT / HISTORY / DIRECTORS / VADM VINCENT DE POIX

VADM Vincent De Poix, USN
August 1972 - September 1974

Vice Adm. Vincent de Poix continued the reorganization of the Agency begun by his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Donald Bennett. Streamlining the organization had become critical since severe cutbacks had taken a major toll on the Agency — DIA's workforce had been cut by one-third after the Vietnam War. By 1973, nearly all elements had been consolidated and realigned.

In September 1972, as relations between the United States and the Soviet Union warmed into a period of detente, the need for defense intelligence was greater than ever. Intelligence was an intrinsic component of military strength, and the United States needed to maintain a strong military if negotiations with communist nations were to be successful.

 

"While some of his diplomatic and military decisions — such as how and when to end American involvement in Indochina — were controversial, nothing so undermined Americans' confidence in the executive as the Watergate break-in and the president's complicity in the cover-up."

 

President Nixon met with much success in foreign affairs, but quite the reverse in domestic issues. While some of his diplomatic and military decisions — such as how and when to end American involvement in Indochina — were controversial, nothing so undermined Americans' confidence in the executive as the Watergate break-in and the president's complicity in the cover-up. As the Intelligence Community was tied into the executive branch, that distrust tainted the public's perception of the  community. Furthermore, many Americans believed that the Intelligence Community had engaged in improper and illegal actions abroad. This meant that De Poix faced the challenge of steering DIA through hostile waters.

The 1973 Arab-Israel War started on October 6, 1973. The massive attacks launched by Syria and Egypt caught Israel unprepared, and was seen as a major intelligence failure for the United States and Israel.

In the post-Watergate controversy surrounding American intelligence activities, DIA and its director answered detractors by remaining focused on providing quality products to national policymakers. The Agency's reputation grew as its products were increasingly perceived throughout the Government as valuable to the decision-making process. The Agency was able to do this even while suffering from a personnel shortage.

The Agency's analysts wrestled with numerous issues between summer 1972 and fall 1974. They studied Lebanon, China, the formation of Sri Lanka, and Salvador Allende's regime in Chile. The Agency also had analysts dedicated to the task of resolving Vietnam War POW/MIA issues. DIA faced the intelligence challenges associated with maintaining detente, establishing arms control agreements, and the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War.

President Gerald Ford wanted continuity in foreign affairs, so he promised Congress in August 1974 that he would continue to try to improve relations with the Soviet Union and China. Defense intelligence would continue to play a role in informing U.S. policies and negotiations. DIA and De Poix had managed not only to maintain continuity of operations during these critical years, but also improve DIA's performance.