WASHINGTON — In an increasingly complex world, top leaders are coming to grips with the notion that government and intelligence entities could be better organized to get ahead of threats.
Such an organizational construct, as posited by Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, might look at mission integration by function as opposed to geography.
Speaking Wednesday at the Intelligence National Security Alliance’s Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, Bossert posed the challenge to intelligence professionals in the audience that, while there is value in having regional directors on the National Security Council, issues such as cybersecurity and counterterrorism are transnational.
Since leaving government at the end of the Bush administration, when he was the deputy homeland security adviser, Bossert identified a few changes in global trends and the threat landscape that call for aligning mission integration by function.
First, he said, the world has become increasingly more complex in terms of interconnectivity with issues transcending geographic boundaries. Second, threats have become more acute and widespread at the same time, noting that these are two different issues. Third, while institutions have matured, the holders of top positions have not.
On this latter point, Bossert called for a Goldwater-Nichols like solution to the intelligence and civilian workforce organization.
Goldwater-Nichols was legislation passed during the Reagan administration that reorganized military.
Bossert said the law’s authors might have thought they were going to create a better class of flag officer because officers needed to gain joint operational experience, training and education in order to be promoted.
Instead of creating a better class of flag officers, Bossert said, what they got was even better: a great feeder pool of candidates.
What he’d like to see start is something similar across the intelligence community, law enforcement community and domestic and international partners as the counterterrorism strategy is by, with and through partners.
If they have an intelligence-based broader scope professional development program, Bossert said they won’t just have a better class of SES candidate, but a better feeder pool.
The intelligence that informs the operator that could be better integrated in to mission function, Bossert said, providing the example of counternarcotics as an example of what he meant. This effort holistically involves increasing intelligence to lead policing, sharing mission and roles in a way that informs Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with Mexican and South American partners sharing information with the U.S. and vice versa to address transnational and drug-related crime.