As the 2020s kicked off, DIA faced unprecedented hardships.
The COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the global community and necessitated an unprecedented pivot to telework conditions, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of warfare completed amidst the chaotic backdrop of an unexpected resurgence of the Taliban regime.
These events shaped the Agency’s operational tempo at the start of the decade.
From an organizational standpoint, the Agency continued to pivot its focus to strategic competition under the leadership of DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier.
DIA also continued to develop unclassified entries of its renowned “Military Power” series — with new editions on challenges in space and North Korea.
In the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly locked down the entire world. Originating in the Wuhan province of China in fall 2019, the coronavirus spread throughout the world in months.
By March 2020, the vast majority of DIA — and workforces across the United States — shifted to full-time telework status in an effort to stop the unmitigated spread of infections. During this time, the Agency launched the COVID-19 Integration and Coordination Group to track updates regarding the pandemic and keep the workforce protected.
Initially thought to be contained within months, COVID-19 kept the world in its grip for more than a year and a half. During this time, the Agency grappled with extended telework conditions, reconstitution and vaccine mandates.
The Afghanistan War shaped American foreign policy, military doctrine and intelligence tradecraft for two decades. In 2021, the United States pulled out the remaining ground forces in Afghanistan — essentially ending the 20-year war and continued U.S. presence in the region.
As U.S. forces prepared to withdraw from the country, a resurgent Taliban regime quickly marched across the country, ultimately driving the country’s leadership from Afghanistan.
With the Taliban in full control of Afghanistan just days before the U.S. deadline to complete its withdrawal, the evacuation grew fraught.
These fears were realized when the Islamic State group detonated a suicide bomb at the Kabul airport on Aug. 26, 2021, and fired on the crowd in the aftermath, ultimately killing 13 U.S. troops and 169 Afghan civilians. The event marked a bleak end to the 20-year conflict.
In August 2021, Berrier released the 2021 DIA Strategy. Developed to align the strategic objectives of the Agency, the document identified China as the United States’ pacing challenge, underscored the continued existential threat posed by Russia, and acknowledged the expansion of the international security environment to include land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.
The strategy also identified disease, climate change and the Fourth Industrial Revolution as global environmental issues that further complicate the threats faced by the United States.
To confront the challenges outlined in the 2021 DIA Strategy, the document identified four lines of effort that would work toward DIA’s strategic objectives: intelligence advantage, culture of innovation, allies and partnerships, and an adaptive workforce.
In 2021, DIA celebrated its 60th anniversary. The Agency has seen an incredible range of events during its lifespan.
While no one can predict the future, it is clear that DIA will continue to prioritize strategic competition when addressing U.S. national security.