Is the Intelligence Community Changing Appropriately to Meet the Challenges of the New Security Environment?
Bammer, Gabriele (ed.) 2015. Change! Combining Analytic Approaches with Street Wisdom, ANU Press
21 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2015
Date Written: 2015
Pity the intelligence policymakers or officials attempting to design the ideal organisation to meet the changed strategic and operational environment that now faces them. The world has changed so much since the end of the Cold War that it is in many respects almost unrecognisable. Many see a clear divide between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ threat environments. Treverton (2009), for example, sees the ‘old’, characteristic of the Cold War era, as concentrated on large, slow-moving targets and a shared frame of reference between agencies that facilitated communication with policymakers and made it easy to slot in new information. By way of contrast, ‘new’ issues are the transnational threats, such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and transnational organised crime, which are small and constantly changing targets with no permanent addresses. They are constantly and rapidly evolving, they exploit our societal vulnerabilities, and they are intelligence mysteries — questions whose answers are inherently unknowable in detail.
The implications of this change of targets are substantial. The threats are increasingly diffuse, transnational in nature and cannot be dealt with by single states. The information required to produce intelligence analyses comes from many different sources, which needs to be shared with a growing number of partners, many of whom are outside of government. It is likely, then, that the nature of intelligence systems and practice requires both fundamental change and a capacity for continuous adaptation if these are to keep pace with the changing environment. This chapter attempts to assess the extent to which the intelligence community has been up to this challenge. It outlines some of the debates about what change is necessary, describes some changes that have taken place and asks how significant (and fit for purpose) the changes that have occurred have been.
Keywords: Intelligence, security, terrorism, transnational crime, change
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