History of the DIA

History of the DIA

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History of the Defense Intelligence Agency

     In the years following World War II, there were many turf battles fought between the intelligence agencies of the United States. The Central Intelligence Agency, which was created in 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act, won the initial battles. This agency had won both legislative status and budget authority and was to make recommendations for coordinating intelligence activities; and to correlate, evaluate, and disseminate intelligence (Laqueur, 17). The act was vague however, and the new agency quickly moved to the role of producer of intelligence and quickly grew in size(Laqueur, 17).
     By 1953, while headed by Allen Dulles, the CIA reached its height of influence inside Washington. Dulles showed little interest in intelligence coordination, but was very close with President Eisenhower and with his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, he had great personal influence within the administration (Laqueur, 18).
     Unfortunately, Dulles’s final years as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) were strife with controversy. Overly pessimistic intelligence estimates gave way to controversy concerning the missile gap between the USSR and America. Another intelligence disaster was the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. This operation further damaged the CIA’s reputation and led to Dulles’s dismissal as DCI (Laqueur, 18).
These intelligence failures caused President Eisenhower to be dissatisfied with the intelligence he was receiving from the community. A new solution was needed and Eisenhower moved to create a Joint Study Group to “determine better ways of effectively organizing the nation’s military intelligence activities” (Raman).
     This group recommended the creation of a single source to manage and coordinate all intelligence expenditure, production, analysis, assessment and dissemination functions within the Department of Defense (DOD). This agency would be responsible to the Secretary of Defense, and meet the intelligence needs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and military units fielded worldwide (Raman).
     Eisenhower’s term as President ended before the group’s recommendations could be implemented, however the banner was carried by the next administration. Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under President John F. Kennedy, accepted the group’s recommendation and created the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) (DNSA). McNamara had many reasons for accepting the groups recommendations. First among them was the differing assessments of the missile gap by each of the services intelligence agencies. Another reason was McNamara’s cost-conscious attitude. He wanted to merge the intelligence directorates of the different services to avoid a multiplicity of intelligence agencies in the Pentagon (Raman).

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He also wanted the Director of the DIA to report directly to him (Raman).
     There was strong resistance to the new agency from the armed forces, and in the end, McNamara had to agree to the continued existence of the intelligence directorates of the services (Raman). There was also resistance to the direct reporting and it was ultimately decided that the director would report to the Secretary of Defense thru the Chairman, JCS (Raman).
Official Creation of the DIA
In the midst of Cold War escalation over the building of the Berlin Wall, the Defense Intelligence Agency became operational on October 1st, 1961 (DIA). The DIA was chartered to become the Nation’s primary producer of foreign military intelligence (DIA). Air Force Lieutenant General Joseph F. Carroll, an office with close ties to McNamara, was selected to become the Agencies first director. He was chosen by McNamara over a year earlier to become the Inspector General of the Air Force and was twice chosen by McNamara to head special investigations of suspected security violations (NY Times).
     In order to avoid harming the overall effectiveness of the current defense intelligence apparatus, General Carroll ordered a time-phased transferring of the services’ intelligence functions and resources (DIA). The new organization would not have a great deal of time to become organized. Within a year after its formation, the DIA would face its first major challenge.
The Early Years
     In 1962, the Soviet Union deployed offensive nuclear weapons to the island of Cuba, only 90 miles from the coast of Florida. The DIA would receive its first major success during this time. On October 14th, a U-2 spy plane under Air Force command provided the photographic evidence of this buildup. In the period following, the intelligence community stepped up its collection using A-7 Reconnaissance aircraft and the DIA was essential in the analysis of this imagery intelligence (DIA). Publicly, the agency was gaining notoriety. In February of 1963, John Hughes of the DIA briefed the Cuban situation to America on national television (DIA).
Because the decision was made early that the services would be able to maintain their intelligence functions, there was much opposition to the very existence of the DIA from the services. The Vietnam War would highlight the weaknesses associated with intelligence duplication. This duplication confused British official in Vietnam and they noted that “there were more than a dozen American intelligence services camped out around the outskirts of Saigon and their competition was hard fought and bitter” (Aldrich, 13). This competition hindered the DIA’s ability to produce accurate, timely intelligence to policy makers.
     The DIA’s analysis did continue during this decade. During the 1960’s the agency focused its efforts on China’s detonation of an atomic bomb and the start of their cultural revolution (DIA). Elsewhere, the DIA analyzed intelligence from Africa, Kashmir, Cyprus, the six-day war between Egypt and Israel, and the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (DIA). An additional duty for the DIA was also gained during this time. Defense Attaches, who previously were under the control of the services, were now under the direct control of the DIA (DIA). The attaches are responsible for the collection of open source collection of data and, on occasion, clandestine operations.
The Transitional Years
     During the 1970’s the DIA changed its focus from consolidating management of intelligence function to establishing itself as a producer of national intelligence (DIA). During this decade the DIA would establish better relationships with the JCS intelligence function known as the J-2. Technology would also play a major role in the DIA’s growth. Air Force run technologies such as aerial reconnaissance plans and overhead satellites would increase the DIA’s analytical abilities. In 1979, Executive Order 12036 restructured the Intelligence community and the Agency was reorganized into five major directorates (DIA). These units were production, operations, resources, external affairs and J-2 support (DIA).
     While the DIA was restructuring itself, intelligence requirements were on the increase. During this time, the agency was faced with making sense of China following Mao Tse-Tung’s death and widespread unrest in the Middle East and South Africa. Although requirements were rising, resources were declining. Despite the budget hurdles, the DIA set up special task forces to monitor crises such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Shah’s overthrow and the US hostages in Iran (DIA).
The Reagan Years
     The overthrow of the Shah in Iran and the subsequent taking of hostages at the US embassy in Tehran tainted the Carter administration. Many within the government where highly critical of the CIA’s inability to properly forecast the events in Iran. As a result of the CIA’s follies, the President-elect Ronald Reagan was urged to reorganize US intelligence once again (Miller).
     A major reform of the US Intelligence system during this time was to establish a competitive system of analysis (Miller). This was intended to provoke a wider debate amongst intelligence professionals. As a result, the Central Intelligence Agency was now forced to defend its assessments against the conclusions reached by the Defense Intelligence Agency (Miller).
     During this era, the analytical ability of the DIA was brought to the forefront of the intelligence community. In 1981, the DIA published the first of a series of white papers on the strength and capabilities of the Soviet Union’s military forces (DIA). Titled “Soviet Military Power”, it was the first of 10 booklets produced over the next ten years (DIA). Outside of producing capability reports, the agency was busy with providing tactical intelligence to military forces. The agency came to view its services as a force multiplier in crisis and provided support to military operations in El Salvador, Granada, Nicaragua, Lebanon, Libya and other locations (DIA).
Terrorism was also emerging as a treat to national security and the DIA was called upon to assist with the fight. 1985 was a year labeled “Year of the Terrorist” (DIA). Because of the analytical work during the hijacking of TWA flight 847 and the cruise ship ACHILLE LAURO, the Defense Intelligence Agency was awarded its first Joint Meritorious Unit Award in 1996 (DIA).
Another reorganization would also occur during the mid 80’s with the introduction of the Goldwater-Nicholas Defense Reorganization Act (FAS). This created a single war-fighting unit consisting of all service branches under the command of a unified commander. This prompted the DIA to create the National Military Intelligence Center (DIA). This center brought together both operations and intelligence functions under one roof during crisis operations. This joint body was able to provide rapid combat support to the Unified commands and streamline the development of joint intelligence doctrine (DIA).
The End of the Cold War
The fall of the Berlin wall brought with it a reevaluation of intelligence function in the United States. The intelligence community as a whole faced once again the threat of widespread resource and budget reductions (DIA). However, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 would see the rapid expansion of the DIA to meet the intelligence needs of the combatant commanders. By the time operation DESERT STORM would begin, more than 2,000 personnel were working in a 24-hour crisis management cell designed to tailor national-level intelligence to coalition forces (DIA). Never before had commanders in combat had access to such a complete intelligence picture of the battlefield. For its efforts, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Colin Powell, awarded the DIA its second Joint Meritorious Unit Award (DIA).
The first gulf war started an era of smaller regional wars. This new trend was ideally suited for the intelligence provided by the DIA. In contrast with the CIA, which traditionally focuses on long term trends, the DIA is able to respond rapidly to situations around the world. While supporting military units in Somolia and the former Yugoslavia, it was clear that the DIA would need to become involved more in Human Intelligence (HUMINT). As a result, the DIA created the Defense HUMINT Service (DHS). This new organization consolidated all Department of Defense HUMINT collection teams under the umbrella of DIA in order to maximize the effectiveness of reduced assets (Raman).
Rise of HUMINT
The new HUMINT role within the DIA brought the agency in direct conflict with the CIA. According to Hosenball and Wolffe, following the attacks of September 11th there were very vocal complaints by military commanders and the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the CIA was not providing quality HUMINT intelligence to the military.
Secretary Rumsfeld points to having to wait for the CIA to make contact with Afghanistan’s warlords before deploying special operations forces before the 2001 invasion (Walter). As a result, Rumsfeld created the Strategic Support Branch (SSB) consisting of 10 or fewer DIA agents that can be deployed rapidly worldwide to collect intelligence for field commanders (Miles). The program has had great success-one agent sent to Baghadad managed to obtain intelligence that lead the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003 (Walter). Unlike the HUMINT groups within the CIA, the SSB has a follow-up action capability in addition to its collection powers (Raman). This allows rapid action following the collection of intelligence by reporting the findings to headquarters, and ultimately, by directing aircraft on the suspected target (Raman).
In Conclusion, the DIA will continue to mold itself to provide the nation’s intelligence. The DIA continues to build on its traditions and stands as the Nation’s preeminent military intelligence organization. The Agency’s many professionals around the world remain, as the DIA motto says, “Committed to Excellence in Defense of the Nation” (DIA)

Works Cited
Phillips, Cabell “C.I.A Will Lose Its Role As Chief Evaluator of Data.” New York Times 3 Aug. 1961 : 1+.
Miller, Judith “Reagan Committee on C.I.A Urges Reorganization of U.S. Intelligence.” New York Times 8 Dec. 1980: A1+.
Reagan, Ronald “Text of President’s Executive Order on Intelligence Activities.” The New York Times 5 Dec. 1981: 18+.
Miles, Donna “Pentagon Explains New Human Intelligence Program.” Pentagon Brief 1 Feb. 2005: 2.
Waller, Douglas “ How Rumsfeld Plans to Shake Up the Spy Game.” TIME 7 Feb. 2005: 48+.
Hosenball, Mark and Richard Wolffe “ The CIA Vs. the DIA.” Newsweek 19 Apr. 2004: 8.
Laqueur, Walter. The Uses and Limits of Intelligence. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transition, 1993.
Aldrich, Richard J. The Hidden Hand: Britain, America, and Cold War Secret Intelligence. New York: Overlook, 2002.
Raman, B. “CIA VS DIA.” 25 Jan. 2005. South Asia Analysis Group. 16 Apr. 2005 < http://www.saag.org/papers13/paper1230.html>.
Digital National Security Archive (DNSA). 2005. US Espionage and Intelligence, 1947-1996. 16 Apr. 2005. < http://nsarchive.chadwyck.com/esp_essay.htm>.
Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). “History, 40 Years of DIA.” DIA Brief History. 16 Apr. 2005. < http://www.dia.mil/History/40years/>.

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