DIA maps out new structure to address 'persistent conflict'

The Defense Intelligence Agency is remaking itself to cope with dramatic changes in human geography and a revolution in network-centric warfare that add new threats to national security, its director said Oct. 10.

“We are in one of those turning moments in history … and that turn right now that we’re in is a very long turn,” said Army LTG Michael Flynn, who took command of the agency on July 24.

Flynn came to DIA after a career in operational intelligence assignments during which he became known as an advocate for greater sharing of information and for his 2010 report, “Fixing Intelligence in Afghanistan,” that criticized as an intelligence failure the lack of understanding of the human environment and cultures in that country.

Flynn, who was widely expected to seek to transform the agency, said he would soon release his Vision 2020 blueprint, a broad look at everything DIA does and what needs to be done in the future. He gave a preview of what’s to come at the GEOINT 2012 Symposium in Orlando, Fla., saying that the Defense Clandestine Service created earlier this year would be the core around which DIA would be integrated.

When asked what he would do with those who resisted change or tried to wait out his tenure, he responded bluntly: “Move them or fire them.”

“This is about the health of our institution, and that institution is the United States of America,” he added. “If you don’t understand what it is that we’re doing, then get out of the business that you’re in and get out of the way. … This is not about rearranging deck chairs. This is about fundamental change to support what is best for the defense of this nation.”

Flynn said he believes the world is entering a period of persistent conflict, driven in part by a dramatic increase in population that drives competition for key resources such as food, water and energy.

Meanwhile, the nature of warfare is changing to one where the network is the new weapon system, bandwidth the new class of supply, and data the new form of ammunition, he said. Battalion and regimental commanders on the ground “are fighting the network more than they have to fight the enemy or deal with the environment.”

To meet those challenges, DIA is pushing its people forward, with a presence now in about 139 countries, and creating a structure that encourages innovation, forgives failure and decentralizes decision-making.

The goal is to provide better early warning of threats and reduce decision-makers’ risks in a dangerous global environment.

“Everything is under attack. Everything is challenged,” he said.

About the Author

Charles Hoskinson is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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