A Brief Analysis of the U.S. Intelligence Committee System

The U.S. Intelligence Committee (IC) consists of a group of independently operating intelligence agencies, both military and government, that conduct intelligence activities independently or in cooperation. The mission of the IC is to collect and analyze domestic and foreign intelligence and counterintelligence to provide leaders with a basis for decision making, which in turn supports the development of U.S. policies and programs to protect U.S. national security and interests. This organizational structure can effectively integrate existing intelligence resources, promote the sharing of intelligence information among member agencies, cooperate to accomplish intelligence tasks, and achieve the “1+1>2” effect.

Member Agencies
The U.S. Intelligence Council is composed of 18 agencies, which are

The lead agency, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), was established in 2005 and is the head of the U.S. Intelligence Council, overseeing and directing the execution of the National Intelligence Program (NIP). The DNI is also a key advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council on intelligence matters. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is headed by the Director of National Intelligence and consists of three mission centers: the National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC), the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has a research agency, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), which invests in high-risk, high-reward research to provide the United States with an overwhelming intelligence advantage. The agency does not conduct research itself, but rather provides funding to universities, businesses, and national laboratories, among others. The agency invests in artificial intelligence, asset verification and identity intelligence, biosecurity, chemical detection, cybersecurity, high-performance computing, human judgment, linguistics, radio frequency geolocation, and secure manufacturing of microelectronics. In addition to traditional contracts and grants, the agency uses an open challenge format to solicit innovative solutions to specific problems from researchers and awards cash prizes. To date, the agency has funded more than 500 institutions and more than 1,500 individuals.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the military intelligence agency, was established in 1961 to provide foreign military intelligence to military personnel in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Committee in support of U.S. strategic planning, military operations, and weapons procurement, among other things. In response to terrorist attacks against U.S. military installations in the 1980s and 1990s, DIA established the All-Source Terrorism Analysis Group and the Office of Counterterrorism Analysis.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) was established in 1996 as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and changed to its current name in 2003. The agency integrates government agencies such as the National Imagery Resolution Center and the Defense Mapping Agency to integrate multi-source imagery and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) to assess terrain, architecture, and human activity to inform decision makers, warfighters, intelligence personnel, and responders. The agency manages a global geospatial intelligence organization comprised of more than 400 commercial and government agencies, with its director serving as GEOINT’s functional manager, national head, and global coordinator. The agency also has a board of directors dedicated to research activities and an official office in Silicon Valley, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Outpost Valley.

Established in 1961 and declassified to the public in 1992, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is responsible for designing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. intelligence satellites and providing reconnaissance support to the Intelligence Committee and the Department of Defense. Its mission includes providing the most advanced satellite technology, selecting the most technically and cost-competitive suppliers, and rigorously executing launch plans.

The National Security Agency (NSA), established in 1952, has been a leader in cryptography, including Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA), and is involved in computer networking to provide the U.S. and allies with a decision-making advantage. The agency’s mission focuses on gathering signals intelligence from signals and systems (including communications and weapons systems) used by foreign terrorists and foreign powers.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Assesses Terrain, Architecture, and Human Activity

Established in 1972, the Central Security Service (CSS) is a subordinate agency of the National Security Agency (NSA) whose mission is to provide timely and accurate cryptologic support for military cryptography, develop NSA signals intelligence and information assurance policy, and integrate it into the military domain.

Formally established in 1977, the Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) integrates the Army Security Agency, the Army Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence command agencies and currently has more than 17,500 members and more than 180 global sites responsible for gathering all-source intelligence, directing forces to conduct operations, and providing language support.

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was established in 1882 and currently has more than 52,000 members. 2009 saw a realignment of the organization into four centers: Scientific and Technical Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Information Services and Technology, and Expeditionary and Special Warfare Support Center. The agency is the heart of Naval Information Warfare, whose goal is to acquire and maintain a decisive information advantage over potential U.S. adversaries. The agency collects information on naval weapons and technology proliferation, civilian maritime counter-proliferation, counter-narcotics, and the global maritime environment, and analyzes and generates intelligence to support decision making.

Formally established in 1978, the mission of Marine Corps Intelligence (MCI) is to provide timely and accurate intelligence to commanders at all levels and to integrate that intelligence into operational planning. The agency primarily serves at the operational and tactical levels, with two-thirds of its intelligence personnel serving in combat units, the majority of which serve in tactical commands. The agency also informs decisions for exercise training, ordinance development and equipment development, and supports the Marine Corps mission in expeditionary operations.

Air Force intelligence is the responsibility of the Air Force’s 16th Air Force, which was established in 1948 and currently has more than 29,000 members to provide multi-source intelligence surveillance reconnaissance (ISR), including cryptologic, cyber and geospatial activities. In addition, it is the Air Force member agency responsible for cryptologic activities for the U.S. National Security Agency/Central Security Agency. With the addition of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing and the 55th Wing, the air wing’s mission expands to include electronic warfare, airborne national command and control, nuclear operations reconnaissance and command and control.

The “Space Force Intelligence Activity” (SFIA) Intelligence Analysis Group was established in October 2021 and is located at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The SFIA is a transitional body for the PAF to establish the National Space Intelligence Center (NSCIC), which will eventually be transferred to the National Space Intelligence Center.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a government intelligence agency, was established in 1947 to collect, analyze and share foreign intelligence, but has no law enforcement authority. The CIA Director reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is responsible for liaison and coordination of foreign relations, such as the Five Eyes Alliance, which consists of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In 2016, the CIA created 11 mission centers to address mission priorities and geographic issues, such as counterterrorism, counterintelligence and East Asia missions. In October 2021, the CIA announced the creation of the China Mission Center and the Transnational and Technology Mission Center.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (OICI), established in 1977, has nearly 30 sites across the United States with a mission to analyze nuclear terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, and foreign technological threats. The agency is responsible for protecting information and technology important to national security and holds a significant amount of intellectual property. Its unique contribution is the ability to leverage DOE’s extremely strong science and technology to support decision making and to support national security missions in defense, homeland security, cyber security, intelligence and energy security.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) was established in 2007 with a mission to provide intelligence support to the homeland security mission, particularly to prevent and deter terrorist attacks. The agency leads a national network of fusion centers for two-way intelligence sharing with local and private industry; supports the Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) among intelligence agencies to facilitate information sharing on counterterrorism, homeland security, and weapons of mass destruction; is responsible for intelligence analysis and forecasting in aviation security, border security, and cyber security; and collects intelligence to help decision makers identify and respond to extremist threats.

U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command Logo

The Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI) was established in 1915 and is currently divided into Law Enforcement Intelligence and National Intelligence. The agency’s mission is to conduct intelligence activities off the U.S. coast, provide timely and objective maritime intelligence in support of combat operations and provide information to support Coast Guard, homeland security missions and national security decisions.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is responsible for the enforcement of controlled substances in the United States. Established in 2006, the DEA Intelligence Program is responsible for providing drug trend intelligence to decision makers, assisting in investigations of drug organizations, providing tactical intelligence for criminal apprehensions, drug seizures and interdictions, and providing investigative intelligence for prosecutions of drug organizations. Member agencies of the DEA Intelligence Program include: intelligence teams in domestic and foreign field components, regions, sites, and foreign offices; the El Paso Intelligence Center; and the intelligence component at DEA headquarters.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was established in 1908 as an intelligence-driven, threat-focused national security organization with both intelligence and law enforcement responsibilities. The agency is the principal investigative agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, with authority to investigate crimes and provide fingerprinting, laboratory testing and training to other law enforcement agencies. The agency is responsible for gathering, sharing and analyzing intelligence to support its own investigations and those of its partners to better address security threats to the United States. In addition to traditional law enforcement partners, the FBI’s partnership programs include: the Domestic Security Alliance Council and InfraGard (InfraGard is a partnership program between the FBI and private industry, an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and others).

The Domestic Security Alliance Council (DSAC) is an intelligence sharing program between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and private industry (including some well-known U.S. companies), established in 2005. The program allows for a two-way flow of vetted information between the FBI and participating members for the purpose of detecting, investigating, and preventing threats to U.S. businesses, the economy, and national security.

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was established in 1947 as a successor to the Office of Strategic Services Research, whose primary mission is to use intelligence in the service of U.S. diplomacy. The agency is the smallest intelligence agency in the Intelligence Committee and is responsible for the Intelligence Committee Partnership Program as well as the Global Futures Forum. The agency uses all-source intelligence to provide valuable independent analysis for policymakers; conducts intelligence activities in the service of foreign policy and national security; serves as the State Department focal point for policy review of counterintelligence and law enforcement activities worldwide; and researches geographic and international border issues.

The “Five Eyes Coalition” of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) was established in 2004 with a mission to help the Treasury Department track terrorist financiers, drug traffickers, and money launderers through timely and accurate intelligence analysis, thereby supporting the Department’s efforts to combat threats to the U.S. financial system and maintain national security. The agency is comprised of intelligence personnel with a wide range of skills, with approximately half serving as intelligence analysts, economists, and advisors.

Planning policymakers (including the President, Presidential advisors, National Security Council, etc.) propose and prioritize issues that need to be addressed. Intelligence Committee coordinators communicate with policymakers to identify core issues and information requirements. The Intelligence Committee gathers information based on requirements to form intelligence products.

The intelligence committee collects information through multiple channels, including overt, covert, and electronic. At this stage, information has not yet been evaluated and processed and is often referred to as raw intelligence. There are six basic types of intelligence collection.

1. Geospatial intelligence (GEOI-NT): Imagery and geospatial data formed by integrating imagery, imagery intelligence, and geographic information.

2. Human intelligence (HUMINT): information collected from people, which is the oldest method of information collection.

3. Image intelligence (IMINT): Information reproduced electronically or optically from film, electronic display devices, or other media.

4. Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASI-NT): Scientific and technical intelligence information used to locate, identify, or describe the unique characteristics of a specific target.

5. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT): Information published publicly in electronic or paper form, including radio, television, newspapers, periodicals, the Internet, commercial databases, videos, and images.

6. Signal Intelligence (SIGINT): interception of signals between people and machines.

The collection phase of processing intelligence creates a large amount of data that requires organization and refinement. Processing is the integration of this data into a form that intelligence analysts can use by: processing the images; decoding the information and translating it for broadcast; preparing the information for computer processing, storage and retrieval; and putting the human intelligence into tables and contexts that make it more understandable.

Analytical intelligence analysts examine and evaluate all the information gathered, add context as needed, and integrate it into a complete product; after which a complete report is formed, including an assessment of the incident and a judgment of the impact on the United States. The intelligence analyst will present multiple scenarios in the assessment, anticipating potential trends abroad and the threats or opportunities they may pose to U.S. security and interests.

The transmitted analyzed intelligence will be provided to decision makers to inform policy and program development, such as the President’s Daily Brief. Decision makers may have new intelligence requirements for the analyzed intelligence, which again triggers the intelligence workflow.

Assessment Although assessment is listed as a separate part of the workflow, assessment of intelligence products and generation methods is present throughout the process. Intelligence personnel continually assess the relevance, accuracy, and timeliness of products. Feedback from customers is an important part of the assessment that helps intelligence personnel adjust and refine the intelligence workflow to better meet the changing intelligence needs of customers.

Key Products
The Intelligence Committee regularly generates a number of intelligence products that use classified and open source information to provide intelligence to decision makers. For example, the President’s Daily Brief is produced on a regular basis, and the National Intelligence Forecast is produced in response to specific needs. The President sets security priorities in the National Security Strategy each year to identify intelligence needs.

Presidential Daily Brief The Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) is a classified, day-to-day, all-source intelligence summary prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in cooperation with the CIA’s Directorate of Analysis. It is presented to the President, select Cabinet members, and national security policy makers. The President’s Daily Brief provides a summary of intelligence analysis on, among other things, national security threats and the global security situation to support presidential decision-making.

U.S. President’s Daily Briefing

Global Threat Assessment The Global Threat Assessment is a document released by the Director of National Intelligence at the annual Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, and an unclassified version is released to the public in the form of a congressional hearing. It includes the Intelligence Committee’s strategic assessment and risk assessment of U.S. national security threats for the year, covering cyber and technology, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, crime, the environment, natural resources, and the economy.

National Intelligence Estimate The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is prepared by the Intelligence Committee and is a forecast of future developments based on current intelligence. The NIE is usually prepared jointly by all intelligence agencies based on the intelligence needs of policymaking bodies, such as Congress, on specific topics.

National Intelligence Strategy In 2005, the then Director of National Intelligence drafted the first National Intelligence Strategy, which set forth a comprehensive reform of the Intelligence Committee to meet the evolving national security needs after 9/11. The unclassified version of the National Intelligence Strategy was updated three times, in 2009, 2014, and 2019, each update identifying national security priorities for the next four to five years and describing the Intelligence Council’s work plan, with a focus on integration and collaboration.

The Global Trends Global Trends report, which has been published every four years since 1997, is produced by the Intelligence Committee. In preparing the report, the Intelligence Committee draws extensively on the expertise of extra-governmental experts in globalization, demographics, and the environment to help policymakers plan for key issues of global strategic significance over the long term.

Characteristic Analysis
The primary driver for the development of the U.S. Intelligence Council has been the growing need for national security. National security is the first consideration for a country’s survival and development, and no matter what country, national security is put first in the national interest. Intelligence and national security are closely related, intelligence can provide decision support for leaders to develop national policies to protect national interests; and can efficiently support national actions to occupy the strategic initiative against foreign countries or external alliances; can also provide advance warning of potential sudden, catastrophic man-made events to successfully eliminate internal or external, overt or covert threats. Currently, intelligence is increasingly growing as a pillar of protecting U.S. national security. The U.S. Intelligence Council is the overall coordinator of the work, development, and cooperation of the various intelligence agencies, enhancing the overall strength of the intelligence community and ensuring the successful implementation of U.S. national security requirements.

The objective reason for the growth of the U.S. Intelligence Council is the expanding size of the intelligence agencies. Since its inception, the U.S. Intelligence Council has continued to grow in size. The number of member agencies has increased from a few at the beginning to 18 at present, with a large number of specialized intelligence disciplines and a scientific and complete workflow. At present, the U.S. intelligence agencies are large, and their work is closely related to national security, which requires a unified leading agency for scientific and rational command and control. The U.S. Intelligence Council to a certain extent to the development, operation and coordination of the various intelligence agencies under the coordination of the overall balance, and actively promote the development of the intelligence business. Since 9-11, the United States has attached great importance to the development of intelligence work and the construction of intelligence forces, and has maintained the highest level of intelligence expertise, the strongest intelligence collection capability, and the top intelligence advanced technology in the world, and has made breakthroughs in intelligence system construction, intelligence interoperability and sharing, counterintelligence, and intelligence personnel training, all of which have been achieved under the guidance of the U.S. Intelligence Council.

Current society has entered the era of artificial intelligence and big data

The future engine of the U.S. Intelligence Council’s development is the ever-advancing emerging frontier technologies. Currently, society has entered the era of artificial intelligence and big data, and the ability to process and disseminate data, as well as store it, has been improved by leaps and bounds. The application of frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in the intelligence field can greatly enhance the speed of intelligence agencies in acquiring and processing information, making these technologies the most promising for future application in the intelligence field. At the same time, however, these technologies have brought many challenges to intelligence work while improving the efficiency of intelligence work. For example, the volume of information on the network is very large, far beyond the processing and analysis capabilities of the traditional intelligence research methods, so that it is difficult for intelligence agencies to fully cover all the information on the network, and its processing and integration and effective use; “deep falsification” technology makes the information on the network is difficult to distinguish between true and false, which further increases the amount of information to be processed This further increases the amount of information to be processed and the difficulty of processing; the network has become a new type of combat domain for information warfare and public opinion warfare, and occupying the initiative of network discourse has become an important part of the work of intelligence agencies; malware has posed a serious threat to the U.S. government, military and enterprises, which has brought great difficulties to the work of intelligence agencies. In response to the challenges posed by emerging technologies, the U.S. Intelligence Council has accelerated the construction of a new intelligence system, based on the coordination of intelligence work and intelligence force building to improve the overall intelligence capabilities of the country and ensure an overwhelming intelligence advantage in the context of great power competition, counterterrorism, and regional local wars.