Friday, October 07, 2005

Tug of War

The topic of intelligence reform has largely disappeared from the headlines, but that process is continuing.

In military circles, the Defense Intelligence Agency is pushing a reform plan called DIAP (Defense Intelligence Analysis Program) which would revamp analytical roles and responsibilities within military intelligence organizations.

While a final plan has not yet been approved, DIA is pushing several proposals that have raised the ire of the uniformed services, namely the U.S. Air Force. Under one DIAP proposal, much of the responsibility for ballistic missile and air defense analysis would shift from the Air Force's intel production center (located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio), the the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC), headquartered in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Air Force is upset because MSIC is already a part of DIA, and the proposed realignment would shift even more resources to the agency, and give it greater control over military intelligence analysis. Air Force leaders also believe that DIA is being less-than-fair in proposing the transfer, favoring one of its own organizations over a military service with decades of experience in missile and air defense intelligence.

This tug-of-war has already caught the attention of at least one Senator, who has voiced his concerns to senior Pentagon officials. More politicians will likely get involved as the debate continues, since the proposed realignment would mean the loss (or gain) of hundreds of jobs in Ohio, Alabama and other states.

Sadly, this part of the DIAP process is another example of how favoritism and politics can actually impeded intelligence reform. The Air Force has excelled at missile and IADS analysis for more than 50 years; at this point, there's no logical reason to consolidate those functions at MSIC. The process of intelligence reform would be better served by addressing real problems--such as our long-standing deficiency in human intelligence--instead of a bureaucratuc power grab disguised as reform.

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