- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Not all Pentagon reforms have fallen by the wayside since September 11. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is poised to make a bold move by trying to rationalize the management of the Pentagon's independent intelligence agencies. To accomplish the objective, he is likely to name Richard Haver as the first-ever undersecretary for military intelligence. Mr. Haver will have to do battle to assert control over the independent intelligence fiefdoms of the service chiefs.

The organization of military intelligence reflects that of the Defense Department. There are four branches in our military, each with unique missions but also overlapping capabilities and duplication. Military intelligence is designed to serve the needs of its own branch of the armed services. To an efficiency expert, this looks wasteful. To the military mind, dedicated assets whether in the form of aircraft, weapons, or battlefield intelligence enhance the success of any mission. Nor is duplication necessarily a bad thing; fighter aircraft are engineered for a certain degree of redundancy so that they can survive hits by the enemy. In combat organizations, some duplication and decentralization is necessary. This is as true with military intelligence as it is with defense logistics.

The combination of America's increased reliance on high-technology spying and the unique intelligence requirements of the separate service branches has led to explosive growth in Pentagon intelligence budgets. Eighty percent of our national spending on intelligence goes to the Defense Department. It is no simple matter to coordinate between Army Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, Marine Corps Intelligence, Naval Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other scattered Pentagon fiefdoms with related functions. Mr. Haver's challenge is to become the one-stop desk for Pentagon intelligence affairs. The director of central intelligence and the undersecretary of homeland intelligence must be able to coordinate directly with Mr. Haver's office. The secretary of defense needs to be able to turn to him for clear answers about any defense intelligence issue. Mr. Haver needs to be in a position to resolve conflicts between the intelligence agencies of the service chiefs, allocate resources judiciously, and eliminate the wasteful duplication while preserving the useful duplication.

Each service maintains its own intelligence shop complete with analysts and collectors of information. Each produces volumes of reporting. This massive effort needs to be closely related to strategic as well as tactical requirements. Mr. Haver also has to rectify failures in acquisition, notably at the National Reconnaissance Office, the ill-starred builder of America's military spy satellites.

Among the tasks facing Mr. Haver is combatting mission creep. As the Pentagon's global commitments expanded during the Clinton years, so did its intelligence commitments. The deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia and Kosovo created new risks of terrorist attacks on U.S. troops abroad. While the job of preventing these attacks fell to a host of U.S. agencies among them the CIA, the FBI and the DIA the means employed by these agencies was to rely heavily on local liaison services, usually within a country's ministry of the interior. One result was that the local liaison agencies became overwhelmed by the demands of competing intelligence services. A case in point is the one-week period a few years ago when Washington-based CIA counterterrorism staff, the local CIA station chief, locally-based military intelligence and headquarters DIA agents, and FBI special agents all competed with one another to dominate the liaison relationship with the Hungarian Interior Ministry. The CIA sneered at the DIA because one female officer insisted on disguising her appearance with a wig and colored contact lenses before meeting with the Hungarians, while the FBI flexed its muscles as the sole U.S. agency responsible for handling the "crime" of terrorism. By the end of the week, the bewildered interior minister pleaded to find a way to simplify the process. Meanwhile, the safety of U.S. forces stationed in the Balkans depended on this uneasy set of relationships.

Mr. Haver is a Navy and CIA veteran who has been Mr. Rumsfeld's point man on intelligence for the past two years. He is a protege of Vice President Richard Cheney, with a no-nonsense reputation for ruffling bureaucratic feathers while still getting the job done. He has his work cut out for him.

[Editor's note: This is the second in a series of editorials addressing needed reforms within the intelligence community.]

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide