The Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, is a major producer and manager of military intelligence for the United States Department of Defense. The DIA, designated in 1986 as a Defense Department combat support and intelligence agency, was established in 1961. It was preceded by the Counter Intelligence Corps. Approximately 8000 men and women work for DIA worldwide (about 30% are military personnel and about 70% are civilians). The exact numbers and specific budget information are not publicly released due to security considerations. DIA has major operational activities at the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Analysis Center (DIAC), Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center (AFMIC) in Fort Detrick, Maryland, and the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The DIA is a member of the United States Intelligence Community, reporting to the Director of National Intelligence. The activities of DIA are often compared to Russia's GRU, the UK's Defence Intelligence Staff, and Israel's Aman (IDF).

The DIA's mission is to provide timely and objective military intelligence to warfighters, policymakers, and force planners. It is considered to be a member of the Intelligence Community in its entity. The director of the DIA is the main adviser to the United States Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters related to military intelligence. Under the support of the Military Intelligence Board, DIA unifies the Defense Intelligence Community on major issues such as the number of deployed forces, assessments, policy, and resources. To help weapon systems planners and the Defense community, DIA plays a major role in providing intelligence on foreign weapon systems.


DIA Organization

DIA is led by a Director, typically a three-star military officer. The current director is Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples.

DIA is organized into these primary operational directorates, which operate as follows:

Directorate for Human Intelligence (DH): Otherwise knows as Defense HUMINT Service, this directorate manages DIA's and the DoD's human source intelligence collection. This includes the Defense Attache System. Defense HUMINT reportedly controls the Strategic Support Branch, a unit that deploys teams of linguists, field analysts, case officers, interrogation experts, technical specialists, and special forces. It is speculated that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the SSB to bypass the limitations of the Central Intelligence Agency after 9/11.

Directorate for MASINT and Technical Collection (DT): Collects measurement and signature intelligence which is any intelligence that does not fit within the definitions of Signals Intelligence, Imagery Intelligence, and Human Intelligence. This often includes radar intelligence, acoustic intelligence, nuclear intelligence, and chemical and biological intelligence. DIA is the central intelligence agency for MASINT collection within the intelligence community.

Directorate for Analysis (DI): Analyzes and disseminates finalized intelligence products for the DIA from all sources as well as from partner Intelligence Community agencies. Analysts focus on the military issues that may arrise from political or economic events in foreign countries and also analyze foreign military capabilities, transportation systems, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and missile systems and contribute to National Intelligence Estimates and to the President's Daily Briefing. Analysts serve DIA in all of the agency's facilities as well as in the field.

Directorate for Intelligence Joint Staff (J2): Advises and supports the Joint Chiefs of Staff with foreign military intelligence for defense policy and war planning.

DIA also runs the Joint Military Intelligence College.


After World War II until the creation of the DIA, the three Military Departments collected, produced and distributed their intelligence for individual use. This turned out to be too duplicative, costly, and ineffective as each department provided their estimates to the Secretary of Defense or to other governmental agencies.

The Defense Reorganization Act of 1958 wanted to correct these deficiencies by assigning responsibility for US Command intelligence support. However, the intelligence responsibilities remained unclear, the coordination was poor and the first results were short of national reliability and focus. As a result of this poor organization, President Eisenhower appointed the Joint Study Group in 1960 to find better ways for organizing the nation's military intelligence activities.

Acting on the recommendations of the Joint Study Group, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of his decision to establish the Defense Intelligence Agency in February 1961. He assigned them with developing a concept plan that would integrate all the military intelligence of the DoD. The JCS completed this assignment by July, and published DoD Directive 5105.21, "Defense Intelligence Agency" on 1 August, effective 1 October 1961.

DIA reported to the Secretary of Defense through the JCS. It was a union of Defense intelligence and counterintelligence activities, and did not add administrative layering within the Defense intelligence community. The Agency's mission was the continuous task of collecting, processing, evaluating, analyzing, integrating, producing, and disseminating military intelligence for the DoD. Other objectives included more efficiently allocating scarce intelligence resources, more effectively managing all DoD intelligence activities, and eliminating redundancies in facilities, organizations, and tasks.

During the summer of 1961, as Cold War tensions flared over the Berlin Wall, Air Force Lieutenant General Joseph Carroll, soon to become DIA's first director, planned and organized this new agency. It began operations with a handful of employees in borrowed office space on 1 October 1961.

Following DIA's establishment, the Services transferred intelligence functions and resources to it on a time-phased basis to avoid rapidly degrading the overall effectiveness of defense intelligence. Specifically, DoD assigned DIA the mission of collecting, processing, evaluating, analyzing, integrating, producing, and disseminating military intelligence for the Department.

A year after its formation, the Agency faced its first major intelligence test during the superpower confrontation that developed after Soviet missiles were discovered at bases in Cuba.

In late 1962, DIA established the Defense Intelligence School (now the Joint Military Intelligence College), and on 1 January 1963, it activated a new Production Center. Several Service elements were merged to form this production facility, which occupied the "A" and "B" Building at Arlington Hall Station, Virginia.

The Agency also added an Automated Data Processing (ADP) Center on 19 February, a Dissemination Center on 31 March, and a Scientific and Technical Intelligence Directorate on 30 April 1963. DIA assumed the staff support functions of the J-2, Joint Staff, on 1 July 1963. Two years later, on 1 July 1965, DIA accepted responsibility for the Defense Attaché System--the last function the Services transferred to DIA.

During these early years of DIA's existence, Agency attempts to establish itself as DoD's central military intelligence organization met with continuing Service opposition. At the same time, the Vietnam War severely tested the fledgling Agency's ability to produce accurate, timely intelligence. In particular, the war increased defense intelligence's involvement in efforts to account for American service members missing or captured in Southeast Asia.

DIA analysts focused during the 1960's on: China's detonation of an atomic bomb and the launching of its cultural revolution; increasing unrest among African nations; and, fighting in Malaysia, Cyprus, and Kashmir; and the missile gap between the US and the Soviets. In the late 1960's, crises that tested intelligence responsiveness included: the Tet offensive in Vietnam; the Six-Day War between Egypt and Israel; continuing troubles in Africa, particularly Nigeria; North Korea's seizure of the USS Pueblo; and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Since 9/11 DIA has been active in nuclear proliferation intelligence collection and analysis with particular interests in North Korea and Iran as well as counter-terrorism. DIA was also involved with the intelligence build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was a subject in the Senate Report of Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq. The Defense Intelligence Agency has conflicted with the CIA in collection and analysis on the existence of WMDs in Iraq and has often represented the Pentagon in the CIA-DoD intelligence rivalry due to DIA's alleged clandestine HUMINT collection and often overlapping analysis products. Operational military intelligence has also been a focus, particularly in Iraq with insurgency threats and asymmetric warfare. Further, DIA is responsible for assessing the current and projected national security threats to the United States and presenting these assessments to the Senate Armed Services committee. Finally, DIA still actively maintains its responsibility for conventional strategic and operational military intelligence.


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