By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
May 25, 2007 – Delivering practical intelligence as fast as possible to servicemembers is the Defense Department's "preeminent imperative," the department's top intelligence official said yesterday. "The thing that's uppermost is providing ... the intelligence required for our magnificent troops in harm's way in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world where we have troops at risk," said James R. Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence.
Clapper, who was "dual-hatted" as director of defense intelligence yesterday, will help coordinate the seamless flow of intelligence between the Defense Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
"The dual-hatting as the undersecretary of defense for intelligence within the department, and as the director of defense intelligence on behalf of the (director of national intelligence), serves to clarify and crystallize those roles," he said.
For the roughly 20 months remaining in the current administration, Clapper said the intelligence alignment presents "a short window, but a great opportunity to get things done," citing his longstanding association with retired Navy Vice Adm. John M. "Mike" McConnell, director of national intelligence, and Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
"For intelligence, it's really a golden opportunity given the assembly of the leaders with Mike McConnell, who's a professional colleague and close personal friend for 20 years, ... Mike Hayden as director of the CIA, and myself, who have all been associated closely over the past 10 or 20 years," Clapper said. He also noted that his boss at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, is a former director of central intelligence.
Clapper said it's important for intelligence officials to make public the "maximum amount of information" available, with due concern for protecting methods and sources.
"Particularly now, it is incumbent on the intelligence community to make available as much information as we possibly can ... so that the public knows what we're up against," he said.
Keeping Congress and the public abreast of available intelligence is one of several initiatives Clapper plans to spearhead during his time in his newly created position.
"I view the two years as an opportunity to impel a sense of urgency to get things done in the time remaining that I would have in the administration," Clapper said. "I don't view it as checking off a 'short-timer calendar' but rather the time we have remaining to get some things done."
Improving the defense community's methods of intelligence gathering and recruiting are other long-term goals.
Clapper has focused on human intelligence, or "HUMINT" -- a discipline that encompasses all gathering of intelligence by means of interpersonal contact -- for nearly 15 years, earning him the nickname, 'Godfather of HUMINT.'
"There's been a sea change -- all to the good -- of HUMINT capabilities," he said. "I think a lot has been done here ... on bringing to bear the full resources of the department and in working with the other components of the government who have HUMINT equities."
The challenge, Clapper said, is to synthesize the various elements of intelligence - human intelligence, communication, electronic, imagery, geospatial, financial and other methods - which "all contribute to the war on terrorism."
Clapper emphasized the need to widen the pool of intelligence recruits, establishing an applicant base with greater cultural and linguistic depth.
"It's vital that we have the understanding and the insight of the cultures overseas," he said. "It's always been a challenge for intelligence but now it's even more critical."
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