Thoughts on NIU Strategy
Neither the IC nor NIU understand the full spectrum of threats, most of which are not military. Top ten threats to humanity per LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft and High Level Panel are, in this order: poverty, infectuous disease, environmental degradation, inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, other atrocities, proliferation, terrorism, transnational crime.
Neither the IC nor NIU are trained, equipped, and organized to do all threats all the time in all languages and mediums — we are managing — and teaching to — a distorted version of reality that is secret, online, and in English.
Neither the IC nor NIU under the economic and engineering environments and how they are changing. The Western model of war and waste is over — the Eastern model of peace and austerity is ascendant. The IC does not provide support to Whole of Government, it does not do holistic analytics, true cost economics or even proper Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) which is active (human to human) rather than passive as CIA has practiced for 30 years (document exploitation, media monitoring).
Neither the IC nor NIU have come to grips with the fact that “national security” is no longer about war and the military and state on state threats, but rather about all threats all the time and especially non-military threats, non-state actors, and emerging geo-conditions that we have not prepared to study.
Both the IC and NIU suffer from three critical deficiences:
01 We still do not do citation analytics and we still do not expose the students to the top minds on any given topic — we continue to rely on retired and convenient US citizen sources with clearances.
02 We still do not do multinational multilingual multicultural analysis — everything we do is US central and no one is held accountable for being retarded.
03 We still do not have the integrated tool-kit for desk-top analysis, nor do we have the geospatial “cloud” within which to examine all threats and all policies and all true costs all the time — together.
>At root NIU has not figured out that the US Government accesses at best 20% of the relevant information through its vast collection networks, spills 80% of that in how it routes it home, and processes less than 1% of everything that is collected.
There is nothing in the existing NIU strategy document that offers the slightest possibility of NIU making a difference in the future of the IC.
Reflections by Robert Steele
01 We’ve spent the last 30 years refusing to believe that state-centric warfare and the centrality of secrecy are over. We have refused to adjust to emerging threats such as General Al Gray wrote to in 1988, to non-state actors, and to non-military challenges. We still do not do Global Coverage and we still do provide intelligence support to Whole of Government. General Tony Zinni is on record as saying that he got, “at best” 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods when he was managing 2 ways and 12 JTF actions, so even in our so-called comfort zone, we get a failing grade.
02 The IC continues to hire young and dismiss all outside experts who are not cleared and part of an in-bred system. Our young are not trained, equipped, and organized to do outreach because the clandestine service has claimed “HUMINT” as its own and both the military and the analytic elements of the IC have not had the courage to protest. Our young analysts do not know how to craft requirements, guide collection management interact with non-US experts in a responsible manner, and do sophisticated analytics against nuanced information much of which — if collection has been done properly — is not in English.
03 We still do not have the eighteen building blocks for desktop analytics such as were designed by Gordon Oehler and Dennis McCormick and Diane Webb in the 1980’s reported out in 1989 as CATALYTS: Computer-Aided Tools for the Analysis of Science & Technology. Our internal sharing mechanisms are grostesquely inadequate and our external information sharing networks simply do not exist at a time when over 80% of the information we need to make sense of the world is not secret, not in English, and not online.
04 We remain conflicted about the role of the analyst. Historically the analyst is treated as a cubicle dweller who writes and should not speak and most certainly should never ever get out into the field. We assume that the analyst will be successful simply because they received our bounty while failing to acknowledge that we are collecting and processing and delivering to the analyst less than 10% — being charitable — of what they need to be successful, at the same time that we intimidate them and constrain them from every speaking freely and openly with the thousands of experts that exist on every topic. We also prevent our analysts from deep interaction with clients, and we limit our clients to those in our comfort zone — we do not do agriculture or education or health or immigration or even water with any degree of depth. The Boyd Sutton report on the failure of the IC with respect to Global Coverage given to the DCI in 1997 is still spot on. We don’t do global coverage and we don’t allow our analysts to interact with the real world.
05 In relation to technology — not just cyber but classified energy and anti-aging and other technologies — our analysts are nothing short of retarded. They simply do not understand the guts of technology — how it works, why it matters, who benefits. Cyber was an issue at the war colleges in 1992-1994, and instead of paying attention to cyber we have spent 30 years letting NSA gut the security of US communications and computing system for the their own convenience, with the active complicity of CEOs in active betrayal of their fiduciary responsibilities to stockholders and clients. Buy American, get an NSA back door for free.
06 Technology comes with huge true costs — true economic costs. Our analysts have no idea how to calculate the true cost economics of any given policy, such as the Keystone Pipeline, nor are they trained to dig deeply into the varied networks that benefit from concealing the true costs of any given product or service or behavior or policy. The Western way of war and waste and proprietary technology is going to be rapidly displaced by the Eastern way of peace and what Buckminster Fuller called “ephemeralism” — doing more with less — and open source everything engineering that is being discussed between Russia and India and China and probably — I speculate — this discussion has not even been detected by our national collection systems.
07 The enduring goals of NIU must be to critically examine and then correct all of the deficiences of the US IC, and guide the craft of intelligence from its present state, mired in the poor practices of the Cold War era, toward a new era in which education, intelligence, and research are seamlessly integrated and our students are constantly interacting with both those doing collection and processing and analysis; and those doing research and operational testing. Our goal should be nothing less than the creation of a Smart Nation able to harness the distributed intelligence of the Whole Earth, most of which is not secret, not online, and not in English.