Intelligence Disciplines Begin to Merge

September 22, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Foreign and domestic; strategic and tactical are becoming less distinctive.


Many of the lines that have defined defense intelligence are blurring to the point where divisions may actually disappear. These distinctions range from areas of operation to types of intelligence products, and this trend offers profound implications for the future of intelligence.

Rear Adm. Paul Becker, USN, director for intelligence (J-2), the Joint Staff, described these changes redefining defense intelligence at the AFCEA/INSA Intelligence and National Security Summit 2014, held September 18-19 in Washington, D.C. Adm. Becker stated that the linkage between domestic intelligence and foreign intelligence is withering.

In terms of delivery, the military traditionally has needed strategic intelligence at the center and operational intelligence at the edge of the force. Now, however, the edge could become the center, and defense intelligence must plan for that potentiality.

The most important warning issue objectively is a sneak attack on the United States, he explained. Subjectively, the most important challenge is China. U.S. decision makers need to understand its strategy better. Adm. Becker offered that the United States has an information glut about China, but analysts cannot put it together effectively. He called for a new wave of great thinkers, such as those who parsed Soviet activities in the Cold War, to produce a similar picture about China’s intentions.

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