New Set of Intelligence Tools Required for Asia

The Defense Department’s top civilian intelligence official told lawmakers that the Pentagon’s efforts remain focused on the “strategic defeat” of al Qaeda and its affiliates, but that other challenges facing the department will require new ways of thinking and new capabilities. “The continued war against al Qaeda and the instability in the Middle East and North Africa require us to continue to enhance our counterterrorism capabilities,” Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, told the HASC’s intelligence, emerging threats, and capabilities panel on Feb. 27. At the same time, DOD’s intelligence apparatus must retool to face “rapidly evolving anti-access, area-denial threats,” he added, as it postures to prevent “strategic surprise.” The nation’s new defense strategic guidance will also require significantly different investments vis-a-vis intelligence in the next 15 years as the United States puts more focus on Asia, said Vickers. That’s “in order to obtain the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities most appropriate to the unique challenges of ensuring access in the Pacific,” he noted. (Vickers-Flynn prepared testimony)