Well, the Senate's report blasting the CIA is all over today's news. It's pretty apparent that our intel community needs a fundamental overhaul. Actually, that red flag has been raised a bunch of times in the past, only to have Congress and Commissions sidestep the hard decisions. This time, though, it will be impossible to avoid taking on this difficult issue directly. It looks (according to some who know firsthand, of whom I'm not one) as if the problems are built into the overall structure set in place by law ... and no doubt compounded by the inertia built into any long-lived bureaucracy.
The U.S. military is already undergoing rapid and profound changes of their own in response, not only to the global War on Terror, but also to a whole slew of technical, geopolitical and other shifts around the world. I'd hoped to begin a new monthly WOC feature looking at these changes and their implications, along with insights into the technologies that will play a role in our future intelligence capability and our defense, overseas and at home. Unfortunately, right now I'm double-tasked and running on less sleep than I'd like, so this new feature is on hold for a while. But I thought I might throw out some links to background info for your summer reading .....
The intel reforms will be contentious, with hard choices in front of us. The current structures date back to the end of WWII and some political horsetrading. For the story on how we got to where we are, check out Flawed by Design: the Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC by Amy Zegart, who earned her PhD at Stanford during Condi Rice's tenure there IIRC. Also check out Wm Odom's Fixing Intelligence for a More Secure America . Odom is a past Director of the National Security Agency, our signals intel group, and he's been pushing for structural changes to the CIA, FBI and the overall intel community for a decade or more.
I'm just starting John Keegan's Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al Qaeda. A good read to understand what the military needs from intelligence gathering, and why (as Odom notes) one size does NOT fit all.
Tranformation of the US armed forces is already underway. To understand how our services work now (and especially the Army, which is particularly affected), an authoritative place to start is the 578 page How the Army Runs: A Senior Leader Reference Handbook 2003-2004, which you can read online or download from the U.S. Army War College. To get a feel for the magnitude of the transformation underway, check out this excerpt and the links that follow:
“The military is at a historic moment; it is a time when the confluence of factors are relentlessly driving change. Foremost among these factors is the advent of the Information Age that has empowered rapid and focused adaptation …. This rapidly developing network centric mode of operation is bypassing layered bureaucratic systems and processes … allowing concurrent vertical and horizontal informal communications and access to near real-time task related information. Simultaneously, the accelerating development of revolutionary technologies with broad military applicability is continually improving precision, detection, range, lethality, navigation, situational awareness ….
Finally, the strategic environment is forcing a transformation, not only in our new weapons systems and platforms, but also in the organizations, systems and processes used to develop and manage the Army. This context includes: the emergence of a more complex national security environment with diminishing protection afforded by geographic distances; a deteriorating international security environment caused by weak and failing nation states; and the emergence and diffusion of power to non-state actors .... Changing large organizations with well-developed cultures embedded in established hierarchical bureaucracies is incredibly difficult … .”
And even more so during wartime, although the U.S. military has done it before. This time around, while the larger force transformation goes forward, the Army has developed a concurrent detailed, classified plan for force expansion and rotation into Iraq and Afghanistan (subscription article). Key quotes:
The Army, according to briefing slides on the campaign plan, is no longer planning for “contingency operations,” but rather focusing on designing the force for “continuous operations ...
A substantial portion of the document focuses on the Army's new modularity concept. The service is beefing up the combat power of brigade-level units, known as the units of action, and making them less dependent on a designated division headquarters. The 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, GA, was the first to reorganize its brigades under the construct. The modularity piece of the campaign plan will provide the service with a much deeper rotation pool to draw from when looking for troops to deploy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, the official told reporters this week.”
Modularity also results in more flexible operations on the battlefield, made possibly by those information networks mentioned above. For more on the need and rationale for force transformation, check out this white paper.
The military is successful in part because it clearly states the groundrules and assumptions for planning and operations, in accordance with national objectives defined by the Commander in Chief and Congress. Follow the links here for a wealth of info on defense, homeland security, cyberwar and other military doctrine.
The military uses a lot of acronyms and jargon. Not sure exactly what distinguishes conventional from special operations, or what military doctrine is? The Defense Techical Information Center's online dictionary is a good place to start.
When the dust settles after my current flurry of tasks, I'll come back with some neat links to exotic weapons, sci-fi sounding technologies and the more mundane (but important) skills that the US military is developing. Until then, have fun reading!