The effect on the intelligence community has been dramatic. Not only must it deal with the complexity and diversity of these new threats, but it also must deal with a dynamic global environment in terms of technology development and exploitation. U.S. technological leadership cannot be assumed in the future.


In full recognition of the reality that U.S. technological leadership can no longer be assumed, in the fall of 2003 the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) requested a series of meetings with National Research Council (NRC) staff members in the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences to determine if a relationship was possible that would provide access not only to members of the National Academies and the nonmember technical community but also to the research community throughout the nation’s universities and laboratories. The objective of the DIA was not intelligence gathering per se, but rather the development of a new source of information on burgeoning technologies and their potential for “technology surprise,” with attendant military ramifications. In particular, the Technology Warning Division of the DIA recognized the potential value of ongoing engagement with the nation’s technical communities in fulfilling its responsibility to “provide the earliest possible warning of technological developments that could undermine U.S. military preeminence” (DIA, 2004).

There were many issues to be overcome in order to establish the viable relationship that the DIA sought. The first concern of NRC staff members was security. It was assumed at the outset that much of the activity would necessarily be conducted at high levels of classification. The National Academies through the National Research Council can perform classified work and often does, but it is always the NRC’s objective to serve the public while conducting the work of the Academies, and excessive classification can interfere with the openness sought. To the surprise of the committee chair and staff, a meeting with the director of the DIA shortly after formation of the committee dispelled the notion that the committee’s work would necessarily be classified. While some activities of the committee might be classified, the director wanted the majority of the effort unclassified so as to facilitate sharing and collaboration between the intelligence community and the scientific and technical communities.

Upon receipt of a contract, the current 1-year ad hoc committee—the Committee on Defense Intelligence Agency Technology Forecasts and Reviews—was formed to conduct meetings with the intelligence community to study issues relating to technology warning. The committee was tasked to produce a report that discusses capabilities upon which U.S. warfighters are dependent and to identify the potential for adversaries to threaten those capabilities through the exploitation of evolving technologies. Technologies to be considered were to include not only those emerging from research establishments, but also potential adversarial capabilities that could arise from innovative integration or the application of existing technologies.

It was recognized from the outset that the present report would be somewhat general in nature with respect to the depth and breadth of technical analyses. It was the objective of both the DIA and the NRC that this first report would establish the foundation for a long-term relationship to support the examination of technology warning issues, not only for the DIA but also for other members of the intelligence community who might need such analyses. It is intended that the current ad hoc committee be disbanded subsequent to the publication of this report and that a standing committee be formed to work with the IC to keep abreast of issues relating to technology warning and to develop specific statements of task for independent ad hoc committees of the NRC to perform.

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