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DoD intel office shuffled ahead of cuts

Dec. 24, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By ZACHARY FRYER-BIGGS   |   Comments
US-MILITARY-DEFENSE-FORUM
Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers held a town hall with many of the office's nearly 200 permanent staff members Monday morning to discuss the moves, which include consolidating the number of offices, retitling some officials and creating a new position focused on oversight of intelligence collection and cyber programs. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Preparing to trim 20 percent from its headquarters’ operating budget following last month’s directive from the Secretary of Defense, and adjusting to a post-Iraq/Afghanistan war environment, the Defense Department’s intelligence office is reorganizing, officials have announced.

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers held a town hall with many of the office’s nearly 200 permanent staff members on Dec. 16 to discuss the moves, which include consolidating the number of offices, retitling some officials and even creating a new position focused on oversight of intelligence collection and cyber programs.

Vicker’s principal deputy, Marcel Lettre, said that while the moves didn’t immediately save big money, they would allow for a five year plan to cut 20 percent from the budget in a rational and measured manner.

“Overall it’s relatively modest structural changes compared to some of the other parts of OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] that are going to be realigning over time, but we do hope that the changes that are being made will have a high payoff from a strategic standpoint,” Lettre said at a roundtable with reporters.

One of the most noticeable and superficial changes is the elimination of the deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) title, replaced with the new director for defense intelligence (DDI) title. Joining the three former DASDs will be a new DDI for technical collection and special programs.

The idea was to consolidate technical expertise especially in cyber to help “strengthen oversight” of existing and future programs, particularly at National Security Agency (NSA), National Geospatial Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lettre said.

Lettre didn’t directly address the impact the Edward Snowden disclosures may have had on decision making, but both the effort to produce greater oversight of cyber as well as a decision to merge the counterintelligence and security offices to combat the insider threat touch on areas that have been hotly debated in the last six months. Snowden, working as an NSA contractor in Hawaii, leaked documents that are still being sifted through by reporters disclosing intelligence collection capabilities.

“The secretary asked former (Deputy Secretary of Defense) Ash Carter to work a number of things in the wake of the Navy Yard incident related to physical security, and also insider threat that followed on a number of other episodes of insider threat that we’ve faced over several years now, you all know what those are,” Lettre said.

One of the moves that could yield the greatest opportunity for a reduction in staff headcount is the reorganization of the intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance task force into an office under the DDI for warfighter support.

“The ISR task force over time, by necessity, grew to be fairly large in size, and had an independent reporting relationship in the past, much like JIEDDO (Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organiztion),” Lettre said. “The task force size is coming down, its mission is starting to wind down as it relates to the direct urgent support of combat operations.”

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