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News | May 1, 2015

The Beginnings of DIA

By DIA History Office

On Oct. 1, 1961, with only 25 personnel and borrowed space in the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency was born.

The Agency would go on to manage and direct an increasing array of missions and functions that provide intelligence support to the national command authority and the warfighter.

The Department of Defense issued DoD Directive 5105.21 (referred to as DIA’s charter) in August 1961, which directed the establishment of the DIA.

The creation of the Agency was the result of recommendations contained in a 1960 report prepared by the Joint Study Group on Foreign Intelligence Activities of the United States Government, and from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s own desire to achieve unity of effort in the production of military intelligence through a more effective management of DoD intelligence resources.

It is important to note that the DIA charter explicitly states that the chain of command “shall run from the Secretary of Defense, through the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Director, DIA.”

To accomplish McNamara’s goals, DoDD 5105.21 outlined 19 discrete functions for the new agency with two more functions added by 1963. In fact, the 23 functions originating from the 1960s represent the lion’s share of the functions marking the Agency’s historical evolution. Some of the more important functions included:

     • The development and production of all DoD intelligence estimates, as well as DoD information and contributions to national estimates.
     • The assembly, integration and validation of all DoD intelligence requirements and the assignment of relative priorities.
     • Establishing a single DoD collection requirements registry and facility.
     • Providing plans, programs, policies and procedures for DoD collection activities.
     • Providing the Department of Defense with current intelligence.
     • Establishing and maintaining the DoD Indications Center.

Other functions included the improvement of managerial and economic efficiencies, research and development requirements, planning and integration of DoD intelligence and counterintelligence training, cooperation with other intelligence organizations for mutual support, and integration of DoD intelligence automatic data processing plans and programs.

Sixty years later, DIA is now responsible for over 80 critical national security and defense functions.