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United States Intelligence Reforms Essay


Hulnick argues that the reforms of 2007 were ineffective and perhaps were expected to be (Hulnick 302). I strongly agree with this argument because the team responsible for these reforms failed to take into consideration some of the fundamental issues ailing the intelligence system of the United States. The directive of the government and the congressional legislation only focused on addressing issues affecting the intelligence at the top.

These reforms only focused on how to restructure the top leadership and to redefine the strategic objectives of the intelligence service in the 21st century. However, it ignored the issues affecting the intelligence service at the working level (Hulnick 311). Indeed it is true that proper reforms should have started at the top level before moving to the junior employees. However, true success should have been achieved if the entire system was reviewed and restructured (Johnson 78). It was expected that the newly structured top leadership of these agencies would restructure the systems and structures at the working level. However, it turned out that they did very little to address problems affecting the agencies at the low level.

As Davis (90) says, the agencies are as effective as the individuals who are in the fields doing the actual collection of data. If these individuals are forced to work using systems and structures that were used in the Cold War era, then the information that they gather may not be as relevant as would be expected. When the working level was ignored when coming up with these policies, it was a sign that the reforms would not be effective.

They were not expected to be because the fundamental issues affecting the working level staff were not adequately addressed. Another major lapse in the in the reforms was that most of the principals involved in the reforms had never serviced in the Intelligence Community (Lebovic 28). It is not easy for a commission dominated by individuals who lack intelligence background to come up with effective reforms. They do not have the experience and expertise of dealing with specific problems affecting intelligence collection and management.

I strongly disagree with Neary’s (11) argument that reform is a lost cause. I believe that we need to review our intelligence systems and make genuine reforms in order to move at the same pace with the emerging technologies. The United States had the best intelligence system After the Second World War, during and after the Cold War, and there is a general feeling that it still has the best intelligence system in this 21st century (Spohr 88).

However, it is important to note that technology is bringing radical changes in the sphere of intelligence gathering and it may not be reasonable to rely on the systems and structures that we used decades ago. To make principal changes in these systems and structures, we need to embrace reforms. The reforms cannot be a lost cause unless it is done in a wrong way. It is important to appreciate that there have been weaknesses in the past reforms that made it almost impossible to achieve the expected reforms (Spohr 56). However, the past failures should not define our future. It should not make the American society despair or give up on making the right reforms that would change our intelligence service. That is why I disagree with the argument that reform id a lost cause.

Works Cited

Davis, Carmel. Power, Threat, or Military Capabilities: Us Balancing in the Later Cold War, 1970-1982. New York: Springer, 2011. Print.

Hulnick, Arthur. U.S. Intelligence Reform: Problems and Prospects. International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 19.1 (2006): 302–315. Print.

Johnson, David. Military Capabilities for Hybrid War: Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2010. Print.

Lebovic, James. The Limits of U.S. Military Capability: Lessons from Vietnam and Iraq. Baltimore [Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. Print.

Neary, Patrick. Intelligence Reform, 2001–2009: Requiescat in Pace? Studies in Intelligence, 54.1 (2010): 1-16. Print.

Spohr, Readman. Building Sustainable and Effective Military Capabilities: A Systemic Comparison of Professional and Conscript Forces. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2004. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'United States Intelligence Reforms'. 2 October.

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