Intelligence Community Soilage Campaign: Clouseau Without the Humor

Parts 1-6 outlined how crassly political and disqualifying it was for 50 former intelligence community (IC) leaders to allege that crackhead Hunter Biden’s laptop was potentially a Russian information operation based on no information or evidence whatsoever-even stating that in their letter. Part 6 began somewhat of a shift in focus to the Obama administration National Security Council (NSC) and the problems we associate with that time period that lingered throughout his administration.

I’m going to defer that discussion for a later article and return to the discussion of the ODNI standup that placed somewhat of a much more politically oriented managerial structure over the top of the IC that was not necessarily an improvement.   

Part 7 continues the discussion of the establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and how that event somewhat changed the landscape of the (IC,) supporting my premise of the influence of these leaders on IC members and events thereafter.

To continue the progression from Part 6 but also to add some context and background that forms somewhat of the basis of my premise (of the nifty 50 influence,) with the establishment of the ODNI came a slow but significant and dramatic change to the manning structure-but moreso to the chain of command in the IC in terms of how the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program and budget arm-the Community Management Staff (CMS)-morphed into the ODNI.

Most agencies had personnel detailed to CMS on a rotational basis to help coordinate, build and often defend the program budget, as well as to compile the Congressional Budget Justification and the Congressional Budget Justification Book (CBJ and CBJB) submission. I’m reminded of how the National Reconnaissance Office was historically manned by agency (NSA, CIA, DIA) and military detailed personnel, back when technically there was no such thing as an NRO civil service person per se. Nobody ever spoke of those assignments as joint duty-except the military-or community credit time.

There was no need for an analytic staff with the DCI or CMS-with the exception of the program/budget and IC community policy engagements-which was the province of CMS-because of the dual hat nature of the DCI as CIA Director. But more subtle than that direct authority was the power wielded by CMS to oversee and interact with the governing bodies that provided community coordination for things like study efforts, acquisition decisions, analytic production like National Intelligence Assessments (under the National Intelligence Council)-mostly led by the CIA-and big community projects. Somewhat above CMS but at the WH or Executive Branch level and a focal point of IC reporting at the time in terms of hierarchy was the Presidents Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board or PFIAB.

Community programs were largely coordinated via three senior level efforts, the CIA run Mission Requirement’s Board (MRB)-long chaired by the Honorable James Simon, later co-chaired by the head of analysis and the head of collection, with increasingly a tri-chair aspect when joined by the Director of Science and Technology (Mark Lowenthal, Charlie Allen and Stephanie O’Sullivan, respectively,) the Department of Defense equivalent Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) (chaired by General Peter Pace and later Vice Chair General James (Hoss) Cartwright,) and the largely technology focused Mission Intelligence Board (MIB) (chaired by the DIA Director-at one point Admiral Wilson.) There was redundancy and information sharing between and among these efforts through cross-population or representation from the leads or their representatives attending the other efforts-as voting or advising members (for instance the MIB was often described as the magnificent seven, with CMS, NSA, DIA, NIMA/NGA, NRO, JROC and CIA in attendance.)

Above these efforts sat the DCI on the intel side-although usually represented by CMS for budget or program issues (at one time Joan Dempsey,) whose equivalent on the DoD side was the Secretary of Defense, although increasingly represented by the CMS budget equivalent-Program Assessment and Evaluation (PA&E) or the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (ASDC3I-Art Money.) Later represented-for reasons that follow-for acquisition related program issues by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Underneath these formal community level coordination elements sat things like Functional Managers (NSA for SIGINT, NGA for GEOINT, DIA for Defense HUMINT, etc.) There was also a Civil Affairs Committee (CAC) that brought together elements such as Law Enforcement, commercial providers and planners that did not routinely have access to classified.

The DCI tasking for something like a big community study effort would be issued and managed by the CMS, typically for action by the lead agency(s) with representation-and oversite-from the requirements “boards” with technical, policy or budget expertise added as needed.

The above sounds a bit convoluted, but in practice worked very well. One of the items that continually stressed the requirements or board structure was NRO acquisitions-whose programs were originally managed by the element sponsor (bill payer)-Army, Navy, USAF, CIA, NSA-the program activity was undertaken for (Program A, B, C or Special.) But increasingly there was somewhat of a dueling management challenge represented in these programs that were often destined for use and consumption by Warfighters, with a concern when such systems insinuated the need for training, modification to existing equipment-or new equipment requirements that would have to be worked out via the JROC or more likely the MIB as a decision forum to feed results to the JROC-for implementation by the services or combatant commands, while the MRB would oversee the programmatics of the “thing” being built.

The community was making great strides in addressing some of these issues, as ASD C3I implemented an increasingly aggressive Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Support Plan (C4ISP) construct as one of the JROC requirements documents that had to be staffed and adjudicated by the community to prepare for the higher-level boards. The C4ISP addressed program “total lifecycle management” issues that sought to identify the “total cost of ownership” for programs managed through the JROC and MRB process (with the subordinate JROC processes including the Joint Requirements Council and the Joint Requirements Board) and the acquisition boards process managed under AT&L that brought users, COCOMS, Services and technologists together to work through issues.

One quick anecdote on why and how these boards earn their pay. Before I knew much of anything about the above processes, I was assigned to a unit in Germany and learned at a US Army Europe level Collection Management Meeting in Heidelberg (run by LTC Jimmy Slade) that the image product chain on the U-2/TR-1 had been PIP’d (pre-planned product improvement program) and we would soon see the results of a leading edge technology that was sensitive at the time but we would all later come to know as the ubiquitous Global Positioning System (GPS.) Now this was late 1984 or early 1985-and it would take some time for the system to get to pedestrian use-like into the 90s-but it all sounded wonderful and ho hum and was going to be no burden on the user end of the system: and it never is…..

We-I-soon discovered we had an enormous-and from the standpoint of those who had to fix it-initially unknown problem as a result of U-2 and TR-1 improved locational precision and pointing data. Those in the collection management business managed what was known (in the Army) as an Imagery Requirements Objectives List or Imagery Requirements Objective File (IROL/IROF,) a compilation of the targets that needed to be covered and the details or specifications describing what would constitute satisfaction of the specific requirement. In my small world up in Northern Germany I managed and oversaw some >8K requirements or so that included a lot of III Corps, Fort Hood inputs. Not a huge amount compared to some of the German based US Corps, but more than enough to keep me-the only trained image interpreter assigned-in actually a Tactical Surveillance Officer-busy. Well with the new pointing accuracy, I soon discovered that the technique of providing a radar collection requirement that simply referred to the center of the runway-was now shockingly producing-the center of the runway: entirely useless!

Many of the standing requirements in the collection “deck” were input in this manner, since many of the collectors were area or synoptic sensors that took a fairly wide swath. I spent several weeks at European Command-Vaihingen, Stuttgart-working with representatives from Vth, VIIth Corps and everybody else charged with managing their equivalent theater IROL/IROF data base to review, update where necessary, and rebuild the requisite requirement’s deck. No impact on the user, indeed (Mr. USAF Program Manager-a Captain who I later worked with in 2009 after we were both retired-and he was still blissfully unaware of the burden and problems his program had caused “us.” We somewhat paid him back later in the summer 1985, when he briefed at the same forum and advised us of the failure and delay on the software development to enable Direct Downlink-DDL-from his platform to Army users-something we had done status updates for a year and a half-he was lucky to survive that meeting. The fielding of the Army Tactical Radar Correlator to theater corps level was paced on this capability being implemented by the USAF PM-so much for planning!)

So, break, break. Before we can get back to the ODNI, there was a significant disturbance in the force with the standup of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI.) To keep this somewhat brief, the emergence of this position threw a big old-intended-rusty monkey wrench into the relatively smooth functioning and understood responsibilities and interrelationship of the above boards.

I mentioned in a previous article that one of the things Cheney and Rumsfeld had in common was a hatred of the CIA. The USDI came into being two years before the ODNI, as an amalgam of the aforementioned PA&E and ASD-C3I, with responsibility for the DoD program-including the Military Intelligence Program and the component that comes from the National Intelligence Program-the Joint Military Intelligence Program (also known as Tactical Exploitation of National Capability funds,) and General Defense Intelligence Program funds.)

I’m going to leave more details for another article but suffice it to say that having a new elephant loose in the herd who was not afraid to use Rumsfeld’s name when needed-splintered community coordination for several years-which extended beyond that time as the ODNI stood up and attempted to get its programmatic legs under it like a newborn.

With the ODNI established, one of the first things accomplished was the formalization of policy related to “Joint Duty” assignments. It wasn’t long before an informal requirement emerged for agency senior executive promotion panels to look at candidate pay band 5s (General Service Schedule GS-15) in terms of community experience. The transition was easier than you would think since many of us were part of community studies, joint task force efforts, or program managers based out of host agency facilities. But with all things government, it was muddled for some time before it became a coherent policy: but it’s the IC equivalent construct to being a globalist, citizen of the IC/intelligence world.

While I might appear to be rambling here, the germane question is what does the ODNI have to do with the NSC? Also, what is the problem with a president-through their NSC manager-the WH National Security Advisor (WH NSA to differentiate from the NSA)-delegating the execution of policy to the NSC staff?

I was going to morph this article series into several more versions, but I am going to end this one for now and pick up where I left off with the Hildebeast series with a focus on how and why I believe Obama was the ringleader behind getting the Bad Orange Man.

Max Dribbler

27 March 2022

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