Intelligence: The CIA Loses a Major Customer


May 25, 2006: Without much publicity, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have gotten a divorce. For over half a century, the Department of Defense depended on the CIA for a lot of the intelligence it needed. No more, or at least less-and-less. DoD recently created the post of undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and made it one of the top four positions in the department. DoD is being coy about exactly what the new arrangements are, given the new Director of National Intelligence and plans for "making intelligence more efficient." For DoD, plans aren't enough, as the major issue is that the troops are out there fighting the war on terror, and they need good intel now. So DoD is grabbing as much raw intel (from NRO satellites) as they can, and whatever else the CIA will give up. In the meantime, DoD has its own growing force of agents on the ground, many of them from the Special Forces. This sort of thing isn't new for the Special Forces, they have been going in to foreign regions, dressed as civilians, for decades. Some of this was in cooperation with the CIA, which still hires lots of retired Special Forces troopers, for another career as CIA operatives.

DoD is overhauling its entire intelligence apparatus, right down to the individual soldier on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plans are pretty ambitious, and are partially implemented. The basic idea is to take advantage of abundant computer power, and affordable networking, to tie together as many troops, vehicles and warships as possible into one giant information gathering system. Computer software is used to do an initial filtering of lots of the data, leaving human analysts to deal with a much smaller amount of relevant information identified by the software. DoD has, for years, been aghast at the huge amounts of data that NRO, CIA and NSA collected, but never had the analyst resources to do anything with. The new DoD system is much more oriented towards solving immediate intel problems with all possible dispatch. No more waiting days for satellite photos, when the information was needed in hours, or minutes, to be useful. DoD is buying billions of dollars worth of UAVs, and installing communications equipment that will allow troops in combat to get the images when they are needed, not much later, after they have been "analyzed and cleared."


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