I am just back from the DoDIIS Conference in Denver where the message was moving military intelligence, if not the entire national Intelligence Community (IC), to an Information Technology (IT) Enterprise (ITE; aka "the cloud") is a mission imperative. I will return to DoDIIS, but first I want to comment on the book "INTEL WARS: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror" by Matthew Aid and share some thoughts on the current situation in Afghanistan.
January was an intense month for me personally with my daughter’s return from Afghanistan as I sorted out some challenging career options associated with the ending of myself imposed sabbatical as an unemployed Navy pensioner, but all that is loose change relative to events impacting the IC during 2012’s first month.
Just before News Years I was conversing with you that Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea are nation states that demand Intelligence Community (IC) focus in 2012 to insure against strategic surprise. Since that penetrating analysis of the obvious, all three have continued to earn IC attention. Kim Jong Eun has assumed his father's leadership of North Korea because any other choice remains destabilizing to the North Korean elites, China, Japan and I suspect South Korea. In Pakistan there are rumblings that the army is trying remove President Asif Ali Zardari without a coup so it can have more pliable civilian leadership to deal with while the CIA has suspended drone attacks. Iran, of course, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to increasing US sanctions for Tehran not curtailing its nuclear program. Given my amazing "clairvoyance" I am sure you are wondering what other "evitable surprises" I see the IC having to deal with over the course of the new year, so here are a half a dozen to mull over.
For someone who self-selected himself for a pre-holiday season sabbatical from the IC private sector work force grind, I have not had much time to get to my monthly discourse with you. Actually I have started the December version of MazzInt several times but events have been occurring faster than I could assimilate them and certainly more swiftly than I could put them cogently into some broader context so I would just not be recounting media reports to you.
First it is good that we are able to celebrate a continuing resolution (CR) for FY 12 vice dealing with a government shutdown as was almost the case as members of Congress postured and played "political chicken" over disaster relief funds for FEMA. More pragmatically, this CR will likely remain in place until at least the Congress votes up or down on December 23rd regarding the coming November 23rd recommendations of the Congressional "Super Committee" for reducing the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the coming decade
Over Labor Day Weekend I read Vice President Cheney's personal and political memoir "In My Time" and I happy to report that "my head did not explode" from the "revelations" in this short book. For the most part this is droll and self-serving quick read, but I was happy for his confirmation that as Vice President he never politicized intelligence for policy reasons.
At the time of the July edition of Mazz-INT Blog, the government was tied in a knot over coming to grips with how to get long term spending under control so there would be the political conditions to raise the debt ceiling on August 2nd; NATO forces were engaged in a seeming stalemate in Libya to remove Gadhafi from power; there was rising concern about corruption in the Karzai "government" in Afghanistan; near open confrontation between Islamabad and the Washington over continuing US unilateral drone attacks against Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership inside of Pakistan; and the US Intelligence Community (IC) was finishing a quiet but well deserved victory lap for taking out Osama bin Laden. As August begins I am happy to report that Bin Laden remains dead ----- with increasingly negative impacts for Al Qaeda, but little else as changed.
There probably should be more on my mind this Fourth of July Weekend to engage you with, but I keep coming back to how historically ineffective most Intelligence Community (IC) industry days are and how the Arab Spring is Déjà Vu all over again re the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The connection between IC industry days and reading the Arab Spring I have to admit is not-obvious (and some will say contrived), but for me they show an institutional flaw that the IC reflexively seems to ignore.
Since we last gathered around the AFCEA URL, the President has nominated CIA Director Leon Panetta to be the next Secretary of Defense and named General David Patraeus to take over the CIA. In a surprising development neither Vice Chairman Marine General James Cartwright nor European Command Commander Admiral James Stavridis were selected to relieve Admiral Michael Mullen as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs - - - instead the President selected Army General Martin Dempsey, who has been Army Chief of Staff only since 11 April. Former DNI Denny Blair testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the status of intelligence reform since 9/11 opined that
"As DNI, I could have led this process [intelligence reform] had I enjoyed the support of the President and his staff. However, their past experience, priorities, and the White House-centric style of national security governance never offered me the opportunity."