37. Draft Paper Prepared by an Ad Hoc Interagency Group on Intelligence Structure and Mission1


Good intelligence is a prime requirement at every level of government concerned with national security, from the President and members of the National Security Council to the military field commander.

At the national level the purpose of the U.S. intelligence community is to produce high quality, relevant, and objective intelligence for the President, the NSC principals and, increasingly, for the Congress. These national needs range from information and analysis supporting the formulation of major policy decisions to providing strategic and tactical warning. Such intelligence is drawn from technologically advanced collection systems as well as traditional forms of collection.

Intelligence must also serve the particular needs of the various components of the Department of Defense, including the military services. At the Departmental level, intelligence is used in making decisions as to what weapons systems to develop and their necessary characteristics, as well as in force structure planning. At another level, intelligence provides essential information for crisis response and support for the planning and conduct of military operations including time urgent data on military force movement and activity. A greater degree of timeliness and specificity tends to distinguish DoD’s needs from those of civilian agencies. The means and manner of collecting, processing, and producing such intelligence are as diverse as are the needs.

[Page 140]

At issue is what organizational arrangements will most effectively serve the wide variety of intelligence needs of [Page 141] national, departmental and tactical users.

The division of responsibilities set forth in the 1947 National Security Act and National Security Council Directives of the late 1940’s and 1950’s was between the CIA,2 which was to support the National Security Council, and the “departments and other agencies of the Government,” which were to “continue to collect, evaluate, correlate, and disseminate departmental intelligence.” The distinction was not between military and non-military but rather between that intelligence needed by the NSC and that needed by departmental and agency heads.

In the charge to the Director of Central Intelligence under the 1947 act to advise the NSC on “coordination of the intelligence activities of the several Government departments,” President Truman sought to prevent repetition of the intelligence confusion and delays that occurred prior to Pearl Harbor. The problem addressed under the act was how to collect, collate, process, and especially disseminate intelligence reports and estimates that would best serve the national leadership—the President and the NSC.

Since 1947 intelligence collection has become far more technically sophisticated and complex. The old distinctions between national and departmental intelligence have blurred, but not disappeared.

Four issues concerning the modern intelligence community have been particularly controversial:

(1) How best to allocate resources in a way which supports all levels and types of intelligence users and does so in peace, crisis, and war;

(2) How best to control the targeting of intelligence collection assets in support of all users in peace, crisis, and war;

(3) How best to distribute line authority over the various intelligence elements;

(4) Whether and how to deal with the potential conflict which results from the DCI being the principal intelligence staff officer to the President and the NSC while at the same time (wearing his CIA hat) being one of the intelligence line officers of the government.

With respect to these issues, two differing viewpoints have characterized the debate over the years. One viewpoint emphasizes a centralized intelligence structure and the resource allocation process as a DCI responsibility. A second emphasizes the interaction and overlap among national, departmental and tactical needs in both the tasking and resource allocation process and would decentralize responsibility to recognize this. The first stresses resource rationalization and economy; the second stresses responsiveness to user needs.

Resource Allocation

The rapid growth of sophisticated Soviet weapons systems and communications technology, coupled with the advent of advanced U.S. collection systems over the last 15 years, has driven up the total cost of operating the government’s intelligence programs. Since 1971, there has been pressure both within the Executive Branch and from Congress to impose constraints on the total funds spent on intelligence and to ensure that there is no wasteful duplication of effort.

The November 1971 Presidential Memorandum,3 which followed the OMBSchlesinger Study,”4 directed the DCI to play a larger role in recommending “the appropriate allocation of resources to be devoted to intelligence” including tactical intelligence. It further directed the DCI to prepare a consolidated intelligence program budget including tactical intelligence. Finally the President directed the DCI to turn over to his Deputy as much day-to-day control over CIA as legally possible.

Over the succeeding several years, the DCIs played a greater or lesser role in the resource allocation process depending on their own proclivities and their interaction with the Secretary of Defense. However, for a variety of reasons, largely related to recognition of the integral role of tactical assets in the conduct of military operations, the DCIs never made a significant resource allocation impact on the tactical assets of military commanders.

E.O. 11905, issued in February 1976, removed tactical intelligence from the National Foreign Intelligence Program and specifically stated that neither the DCI nor the Committee on Foreign Intelligence (CFI)—now Policy Review Committee (Intelligence)—should have responsibility for tactical intelligence, although the CFI was to “provide guidance on the relationship between tactical and national intelligence.”

The CFI was empowered by E.O. 11905 to “control” budget preparation and resource allocation for the National Foreign Intelligence Program and to review and amend the NFIP budget. The DCI was made chairman of the CFI but no guidance was provided in the event that a majority of the CFI disagreed with the view of the DCI. In addition, some confusion was created within the Executive Branch and in Congress since the Secretary of Defense is by law responsible for [Page 142] the DoD budget while E.O. 11905 states that the CFI shall “control” and “amend” elements of the DoD budget.

[At present, resources for those elements of the National Foreign Intelligence Program which are under the direction of the Secretary of Defense are subject to the same planning, programming and budget processes as all other DoD programs, except that they are also subject to the CFI review. The Services, Defense agencies, and Program Managers are given program guidance early in the calendar year by the Secretary of Defense for the next fiscal year and, since E.O. 11905, from the DCI as well. During May each year, the Services, Defense agencies and Program Managers send their Program Objectives to the Secretary of Defense for review. In July, the Policy Review Committee (Intelligence) reviews the proposed NFIP Programs and approves or amends them as required. The PRC (Intell) decisions are then reflected in the Program Decision Memoranda issued by the Secretary of Defense.

In the September–October time frame each year, the DoD Comptroller holds budget hearings on DoD programs including intelligence. OMB and the ICS participate in those budget hearings. In November, the Secretary of Defense issues Program Budget Decisions which reflect PRC (I) decisions. The final DoD budget submitted to the President incorporates these decisions, or they become issues for Presidential resolution. As the budget year progresses, reprogrammings from or to intelligence programs must be reviewed by the Policy Review Committee before going through the normal DoD process.

Other elements of the National Foreign Intelligence Program are subject to the PRC July program and November budget reviews] (this section is, in Mr. McGifferts’ view, dispensable. But it is Dr. Brown’s decision since he proposed it)


Operational tasking at present reflects the traditional primacy of the DCI in this area. The DCI controls CIA clandestine services and the principal interagency committees which prioritize SIGINT and imagery tasking report to the DCI.

Tasking has been complicated because intelligence collection systems have grown increasingly capable of serving the broad interests of the policy makers and defense planners, the more specific technical interests of weapons developers and the combat intelligence needs of field commanders. Communications intelligence provides political and economic data, as well as information on military capabilities and operations. Agents are asked to collect information on Soviet weapon technology, political intentions, grain harvests, etc. Satellites produce pictures which are critical both to the SALT policy maker and the Army Commander on the East German border.

[Page 143]

One issue is how to provide the tactical commander in the field not only the appropriate product from nationally controlled intelligence assets, but how to permit that commander to task those assets which can be directly responsive to his needs. There is also an issue in the opposite sense, mainly of ensuring that the appropriate product of “tactical” intelligence collection is made available to national policy makers. A third issue is whether there is a need to establish a central mechanism to prioritize the tasking of national systems. Proper resolution of these issues must take into account the need for a rapid, effective transition from peace, to crisis, to war.

Line Authority

There appears to be general agreement that systems and organizations which are substantially tactical in nature should remain under DoD control, although there is a significant grey area in defining what is “tactical.” The principal questions relate to operational control of national intelligence collection systems. One issue is, what line authority arrangements best facilitate transition from peace to crisis to war? The interface between national intelligence collection systems and the non-NFIP military facilities essential to support them such as missile ranges, shipyards, base operations also has implications for the distribution of line authority.


In national systems, one key question with respect to resource allocation, operational tasking and line authority is the proper balance between (a) centralization of control in the DCI and (b) DoD dedicated resources designed principally for support of military operations such as aircraft, submarines, satellite boosters, and the like. Another way of looking at the same balance is to ask how to task the multiplicity of collection systems (that, given the diversity of targets, will exist in any event) so as to be as responsive as possible to the needs of all consumers consistent with an acceptable overall cost.

A second key question relates to the wisdom of mixing management responsibility (e.g., resource allocation or line authority over collection organizations and assets) with responsibility for analysis, evaluation, and the setting and prioritization of requirements.

Alternative forms of resource management, operational tasking, and line authority, which can be considered for national systems are:

Resource Management:

Subject to appeal to the President acting with the advice of the NSC

R1. Decisions could be negotiated collegially, with neither the DCI nor the Secretary of Defense having final decision authority in the [Page 144] absence of negotiated agreement. This is approximately today’s situation.

R2. Either the DCI or R3 the Secretary of Defense could have the final authority either independently of, or after recourse to, a collegial forum. This raises questions of operational control since if (for example) DCI had resource allocation authority, the people and hardware (e.g., submarines) presumably should belong to him. The governing statutes and E.O. 11905 would require substantial modification.

R4. The DCI could have the power (either with or without a collegial forum) to veto, but not to add, with respect to the NFIP elements in the budgets of a Department as determined from time to time by the Department. This would strengthen the DCI’s control of upward pressures on Departmental intelligence budgets while leaving the Departments some downside flexibility. E.O. 11905 would need to be modestly modified, but not the governing statutes.

The foregoing choices relate to peacetime operations. In wartime the choices might be different but that question need not be addressed since it does not appear critical to the effectiveness of rapid transition to a wartime footing.

Operational Tasking

O1. Continue present arrangements, based on separate collegial mechanisms, under which the DCI has final tasking authority during peace, crisis, and war. Under this system military commanders must go through these DCI mechanisms to task national systems not only in peacetime, but in time of crisis or war as well.

O2. Continue collegial mechanism, but shift from DCI final tasking authority in peace to SECDEF in war and crisis.

O3. Establish under the DCI a single centralized non-collegial mechanism for tasking.

O4. Same as 3, but shift final tasking authority to SECDEF in war and crisis.

Line Authority

L1. Retain existing distribution of line authority over national systems.

L2. Shift line authority over NSA [less than 1 line not declassified] to the DCI.

L3. Separate the DCI from operational control of all national collection assets.

The following matrix represents all possible combinations of the resource management and line authority alternatives which have been discussed. An “X” connotes an alternative which is infeasible or illogical.

[Page 145]

In fact, the matrix is three dimensional. Operational tasking alternatives are, for all practical purposes, independent of decisions made with respect to the other two. In any event, the four tasking alternatives (O1–O4) discussed earlier apply equally to each element in the matrix.5

From these options one can construct a variety of interrelationships, requiring either minimal or major change to existing statutes and Executive Branch directives. Considerations of effective span of control, duplication of existing management and budget systems, and optimum functioning of the structure in peace, crisis and war impact on choosing the best mix in assigning responsibilities. The resulting structure must support the DCI in his primary role as the principal intelligence advisor to the President and must support the Secretary of Defense in the conduct of his responsibilities under the National Command Authority.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 97M00248R: Policy Files, Office Level and Above, Box 1, Folder 13: PRM 11—Intelligence Structure & Mission (Folder 2). Secret. Brackets are in the original.
  2. For the NSC Intelligence Directives (NSCIDs) of this time period, see Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, and Foreign Relations, 1950–1955, The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 35.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 28.
  5. If either the DCI or the SECDEF is to have final resource authority over all national collection assets, it would be inconsistent to have some or all of them under the line authority of the other. [Footnote is in the original.]