Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made his comments Nov. 2 at the GEOINT 2010 Symposium. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)
NEW ORLEANS — The director of national intelligence told an audience of contractors and intelligence workers to brace for cutbacks in service contracts, but he promised that these cuts would be made gradually and according to a strategic plan.
"What I'd look to do is profit from what happened to us in the 1990s, and lay out a strategy for this and absorb the pain smartly," retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper said in a speech Tuesday at the GEOINT 2010 Symposium.
Clapper was referring to the period after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the U.S. cut intelligence staffing and spending to reap what Clapper called the "peace dividend." After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the U.S. rushed to restore staffing, and it did so by hiring contractors.
Now it is time to reduce service contracts, Clapper said. But this time, he said, the reductions would be implemented slowly over a period of two to three years.
"In the tradition of charity begins at home, I'm starting with the [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] staff," he said.
In addition, Clapper said he was undertaking a series of management initiatives — he jokingly called them "tweaks" — designed to improve intelligence sharing and integration.
Without mentioning Army Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn by name, Clapper said Flynn would become assistant director of national intelligence for partner engagement. Late last month, Flynn left his position as the allied intelligence chief in Afghanistan to return to Washington.
In a February interview when Clapper was still undersecretary of defense for intelligence, he told the C4ISR Journal he had a "mentoring exchange" with Flynn after Flynn published a think-tank article criticizing U.S. intelligence priorities.
"My intent here is to bring back a certain unnamed, Army intelligence office from Afghanistan, who wrote an article about what's wrong with intelligence," Clapper told the audience. "So, hey buddy, you can come back here and help me fix it."
Flynn will act as a "kind of the bully pulpit for collaboration and sharing," Clapper said.
In a separate management move, Clapper said he plans to name 15 to 20 "national intelligence managers" who would coordinate intelligence collections and analysis based on regions of the world or functions. For example, there will be a national intelligence manager for cyberspace, "which I think we desperately need," Clapper said.