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From National Security Affairs department
Feb. 11, 2013      
NEWPORT, R.I. (Feb. 6, 2013) Dr. John Gannon addressed the student body on the theme of 20th century lessons for 21st century intelligence. (Photo by Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Ohl)NEWPORT, R.I. -- The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) National Security Affairs (NSA) department held its final practitioner lecture on Feb. 6 for the senior National Security Decision Making (NSDM) course.

Dr. John Gannon addressed the student body on the theme of 20th century lessons for 21st century intelligence. Drawing on his long and distinguished career in the U.S. intelligence community—serving as the deputy director for intelligence (DDI) at the Central Intelligence Agency; as the chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC); as the CIA’s assistant director for analysis and production; and as the staff director for the House of Representatives Select Committee on Homeland Security—Dr. Gannon discussed the interrelationship between those who collect, analyze and consume intelligence.

Providing an overview of intelligence successes and failures over the last sixty years, he examined the interplay between policy, strategy, and intelligence. Given that senior class students are about to begin their Final Exercise for NSDM, which requires them, in part, to offer a strategic estimate over a twenty-year horizon, Dr. Gannon, drawing on his background as chair of the NIC, offered his thoughts about the challenges that accompany any effort to make long-term assessments, particularly in an environment defined by rapid change and upheaval.

In his comments and in the discussion that followed, Dr. Gannon addressed questions about the “zone of uncertainty” in which intelligence analysts must operate, yet still give meaningful and relevant content to policymakers; the relationship between the intelligence community and its key stakeholders in the executive and legislative branches; the impact of new technologies in facilitating “real time” demand for information; striking a balance between information obtained from human sources versus technical means; the impact of leaks in the media on intelligence operations and interagency collaboration; and on the continuing challenges faced by the Department of Homeland Security.

He also addressed questions about whether the intelligence process is politicized, and possible fault lines between strategic assessment and policy implementation. How individual leaders have used intelligence and interacted with the intelligence community was another topic that was explored during this session.

This session gave the students and faculty unique insights into the role played by the intelligence community in the formation of U.S. national security policy, especially how analysis factors in to the development of strategy and policy.