The Future of Intelligence Analysis
February 13, 2020 | 12:15 pm | LBJ School of Public Affairs, SRH 3.122
On Thursday, February 13, 2020, the Intelligence Studies Project, Strauss Center, and Clements Center hosted Joseph Gartin, Former Dean of CIA’s Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, for a talk on “The Future of Intelligence Analysis” at the University of Texas.
After brief introductory remarks by Professor Steve Slick, Gartin began by noting that intelligence analysis is at an “inflection point” given the dawn of several technologies that affect the way we process information, such as big data. He then talked briefly about the pedagogy of Sherman Kent, the namesake of the CIA’s intelligence school, who created many of the fundamental concepts of intelligence work. Kent’s vision for what Gartin called an “elevated debate” wherein intellectual Americans work to understand, explain, and predict the course of world events still rings true today, with some important caveats. Namely, Gartin identified five drivers of change in the U.S. intelligence community: the rise in structured analytic techniques, advances in cognitive sciences in fields like behavioral economics, improvements in quantitative forecasting, the ever-present robust counterterrorism analysis, which now constitutes an enterprise of its own, and the explosion of big data, which could perhaps increase the fidelity of intelligence assessments. These five major developments all contribute to the dizzying variety of intelligence subdivisions, which contrasts the straightforward structure of intelligence in Kent’s time.
In closing, Gartin posed the question: where are we going? He argued that the importance and utility of data could lead to a hypothetical intelligence “digital assistant” which aids in analyzing the efficacy of an analyst’s work. Such a tool could track performance and provide analytics. Gartin then discussed five challenges facing the intelligence community moving forward: the need to embrace data-driven analysis, a revisiting of the intelligence community’s use of structured analytic techniques, the necessity of tightening the feedback loop between analysts and policymakers, the fine-tuning the mechanisms for measuring and rewarding accuracy in intelligence analysis, and the hiring, developing, and retaining of diverse talent.
Joseph Gartin is a national security professional with more than 30 years of experience in the US Intelligence Community. He recently retired from the Central Intelligence Agency as Deputy Associate Director of CIA for Talent and Chief Learning Officer, overseeing learning and development programs for its global workforce. His previous assignments include Dean of the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, and Director of the President’s Daily Briefing. He began his intelligence career in 1986 at the predecessor to today’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, focusing on East Asian militaries. He is passionate about increasing diversity and inclusion in the national security field and evolving intelligence tradecraft for tomorrow’s challenges. Mr. Gartin holds degrees from Georgetown University and Pacific Lutheran University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He and his wife Joan reside in Virginia.