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CIA Veteran at IAFIE Conference Discusses the Importance of Careers in Intelligence

CIA Veteran at IAFIE Conference Discusses the Importance of Careers in Intelligence

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By David E. Hubler

Contributor, In Homeland Security

Fran Moore is a 32-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency. Before her retirement in 2015, she served as the CIA’s Chief Learning Officer, integrating numerous training elements to improve the performance of agency analysts.

Previously, Moore was the Director for Intelligence and led the Agency’s large-scale substantive analytic program. She also served as the lead analyst in the CIA Counterterrorism Center, overseeing al-Qaeda’s growing threat to U.S. security.

It’s no wonder that her keynote address on the increasing complexity of global security challenges was so well attended at last month’s International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) conference, sponsored by AMU. The focus of Moore’s talk was “the extremely complex global security challenges” facing the U.S. intelligence community today.

“This is an amazing time to be watching national security decision making, all the more so in view of our new national security policymakers,” Moore said.

“I will tell you from my experience that the first year of a new administration is challenging for the Intelligence Community,” she added. “It is especially so when there is a major shift in foreign policy focus, as we have had this time. The current extraordinary environment in Washington, including reoccurring leaks, adds to the complexity of intelligence support.”

Moore called the Trump administration “fundamentally different from previous administrations: Executive Orders are developed without the usual vetting process and major policy decisions are discussed over dinners with a handful of players, rather than in the Situation Room at the White House.”

Even with all the uncertainties and changing priorities of the Trump administration, Moore said the Intelligence Community is focused on three primary concerns:

  • Avoiding strategic surprises
  • Seeking feedback “to tailor products and processes to ensure the smoothest delivery of intelligence materials to the President and his team”
  • Establishing relationships with “new customers” to ensure intelligence analysis stays relevant as policy and priorities emerge

Three ‘Baskets of Concern’ Are Likely to Shape US National Security Priorities

Moore enumerated “three baskets of concern” that will likely shape U.S. national security priorities in the years ahead. She labeled them as “Urgent, the Adversaries, and the Complex, or Just Plain Hard.”

The Urgent Basket:

  • Ongoing crises in which the U.S. is already involved, especially ISIS as an insurgency
  • The ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, which is at its most pitched in Syria and Iraq
  • Afghanistan, where security trends “are troubling” because the Taliban has steadily gained ground

The Adversaries Basket:

  • China – “Far and away the most strategic concern over the long term.” China’s goal is to gain enough economic and military clout to dominate its neighbors and influence global decisions that affect its economy, trade and security. “This is the driving behavior to assert control over critical sea lanes in the South China Sea and the Sea of Japan.”
  • Russia – President Vladimir Putin appears intent on resetting relations with the U.S. Appearing to “best” the United States adds to his popularity. He will probably continue to look for opportunities to do so with the new administration.
  • Iran – The need for the U.S. to monitor the nuclear deal and make decisions about the pact; also, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to assert Sunni Islamic dominance in the region at Iran’s expense.
  • North Korea – An isolated, authoritarian state with a growing arsenal of nuclear weapons that Pyongyang has indicated can be mounted on missiles capable of reaching Asia and U.S. territory in the Pacific.

The Complex or ‘Just Plain Hard’ Issues:

  • Cyber – Russian interference in the U.S. election, the exposure of clandestine National Security Agency tools, and malware that puts industrial control systems worldwide at risk.
  • Nuclear proliferation and nuclear security – Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal; Pakistan and India are both nuclear-capable; and Pakistan continues to build its nuclear capability to deter India and the United States. North Korea’s program is particularly worrisome and raises the prospect of a nuclear arms race in Asia.
  • Navigating the Changes in Europe. Brexit; stagnant European economies and the pressures of refuges and terrorist attacks; and the rise of nationalist parties in Austria and Italy, among others.

Moore summed up her talk by posing two key questions. “The key question will be with Europe fractured – and perhaps more of an inward focus in U.S. policy – is there still room to build consensus on ‘ways forward’ on big transnational issues—Syria, international terrorism, cyber, migration, nuclear proliferation? We have depended on Europe to be part of U.S.-led multilateral efforts.

So, that leads to the second question: What will the next decade bring?”

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