The last few months have produced much turbulence for American intelligence. What’s new? In our symposia, on the website, and in Joe Mazzafro’s blog, among other opportunities, we’ll address at least some of that. For now, however, I want to draw attention to two very important intelligence community programs: the IC Centers of Academic Excellence (IC CAE) and the National Defense Intelligence College (NDIC).
Recently, I participated in the annual summer seminar of the IC CAE summer seminar, a whole day of which was given over to recent developments at NDIC. This collaboration represented an exciting interaction between two efforts serving American intelligence well at the moment and offering even greater promise for the future.
Some of you may know NDIC better by one of its former names, either the Joint Military Intelligence College or, if one chooses to be exceptionally bold in dating oneself, the Defense Intelligence College. By whatever name, NDIC represents a critical component in the set of institutions serving the intelligence profession across the training-education-research spectrum. It is, if you don’t know, the only degree granting school in the US intelligence community, offering both bachelors and masters degrees (and, in the interest of full disclosure, participating in a Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy).
Both sets of services invest, as they must, in training. If, however, one looks for distinctions between the (civilian) intelligence services and the military services, one area in which intelligence does not compare well is in continuing professional education. In good budget times and bad, the military services have invested not just in continuing professional education through the war college and staff college systems, but also in research through components of those schools. The “national” agencies within the intelligence community have simply failed to make a comparable investment, not just in structures but in personnel systems that permit -- even demand -- extended periods of time to refresh and extend skills and knowledge. NDIC, to the extent its resources have permitted, has always been an exception to that practice, albeit a somewhat fragile exception not scaled to support the full intelligence community in ways that matches the size and scope of that community. (I need to acknowledge, in citing resource limitations, the leadership of the Defense Intelligence Agency, under a series of directors, in protecting and sustaining NDIC through some really lean years.)
NDIC is poised for an era of great promise. Its president, Dr. David Ellison (RADM, USN, ret., and former superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School) spoke to the IC CAE Seminar of plans to expand NDIC’s capabilities in such areas as science and technology and in cyber studies, and to enhance its ability to serve student populations beyond the reach of their core campus at the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center. As a longtime friend of NDIC, under Dr. Ellison and his predecessor, Denis Clift, I encourage all AFCEANs, especially NDIC alumni, under whichever institutional name, to pay close attention to what promises to be an exciting period to come as the college takes the lead in what one hopes will be an era in which American intelligence comes at least closer to the military services in investing in the development of its most important resources.
IC CAE represents another investment in the future of American intelligence, encouraging students from high school to graduate school to consider careers in intelligence and the other national security professions. Over twenty colleges and universities across the country now participate in IC CAE, either independently or through a number of consortia, with a large percentage of these schools being Historically Black or Hispanic Serving institutions, with all that means to the diversity of the coming generation of intelligence professionals. If you’d like to know if one or more of these schools operate within an area of your local AFCEA chapter, check the IC CAE webpage on the DNI website or contact me.
In the coming months, the AFCEA Intelligence Committee will be working with the AFCEA Educational Foundation to encourage ties between IC CAE schools and local AFCEA chapters, but why wait? All of us on the intelligence committee would be thrilled to discover in the months ahead, as we contact AFCEA chapters about support to an IC CAE school, to have you tell us “We’ve already done that.”
Finally, amid the Washington Post series on American intelligence, Wiki leaks, and all the rest, let me say a word about the confirmation of James Clapper as director of national intelligence. Jim is no stranger to AFCEA. He served on the former AFCEA intelligence council, has been an ex officio member of the intelligence committee, and has permitted us to impose on his calendar over the years as a speaker at many events. I know all AFCEA’s members, especially its intelligence professionals, join me in offering Director Clapper our congratulations, our best wishes, and our continued support in whatever form that may take. We are at your service.
Bill Nolte is research professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and chair of the AFCEA Intelligence Committee