Intell turf battles rage

Major portions of a bill that would authorize appropriations for the U.S. intelligence community would significantly limit the Defense Department's ability to support military operations, warn Defense Secretary William Cohen and his top military adviser.

Cohen and Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently sent a letter to senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill protesting a proposal by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to establish an intelligence community communications architect position within the CIA. The chief architect would have broad responsibilities for the development of a worldwide telecommunications system that would serve the intelligence community, the bulk of which now resides in DOD and not the CIA.

The chief architect, supported by a 30-person staff, would be funded with $80 million in start-up money taken directly from the budgets of the Pentagon's National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to the bill.

"This unilateral and independent architectural office would seriously damage, if not totally destroy, the efforts of the DOD chief information officer, who has ongoing activities with the [intelligence community] and Defense intelligence component CIOs to advance interoperability between and among intelligence producers and consumers," Cohen and Shelton told Congress. The House Armed Services Committee included Cohen and Shelton's letter in a report on the fiscal 2001 Intelligence Authorization bill, released last month.

But the Pentagon is also concerned about the impact the new office might have on DOD's efforts to orchestrate a Global Information Grid (GIG), according to the Cohen and Shelton letter. The Pentagon has been working on the GIG concept for more than a year and envisions a global network capable of delivering secure information to all users.

The GIG architecture "puts a premium on the assured and timely access by our warfighters and policy-makers to all forms of information, including intelligence," a Pentagon spokesperson said. However, "there shouldn't be separate architectures for combat functions, for support functions [or] for intelligence functions. Otherwise, we're back at the stovepiped, stand-alone systems that don't talk to one another in a timely fashion."

An official from the Pentagon's office of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence also said that the Pentagon supports a broader GIG concept as opposed to a narrow, intelligence-only communications architecture.

"Solutions which take down the old barriers to interoperability and harness our collaborative networking and computing capabilities have the most value and are deserving of support," the official said. "Our concerns with the proposed intelligence communications architect are lessened by the extent to which that entity is free to support the broader Global Information Grid architecture in preference to a narrower, intelligence-only network."

Cohen and Shelton expressed opposition to Congress' proposal to expedite the real-world use of the Joint Intelligence Virtual Architecture tool in the intelligence community, saying it is "premature" to designate the software capability as the community standard for collaboration. The program is a next-generation digital collaboration effort headed up by Defense Intelligence Agency. Congress called for oversight of the program to be transferred from DOD to the CIA.

"We feel strongly that it would be counterproductive both to prohibit further non-JIVA technology pursuits and to remove the program from the DOD oversight that has made it the success that the committee commends," stated Cohen and Shelton.

The CIA declined to comment on the proposed legislation.

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