CIA Director Michael V. Hayden discusses challenges facing CIA, similarities of Air Force

Following a prestigious career spanning over 39 years in the U.S. Air Force, retired General Michael V. Hayden presented an Air Force audience with an exciting and robust new world-view of intelligence, despite daunting challenges under his careful watch as Director of the CIA.

Director Hayden believes that the key to winning the intelligence-war lies in integration, forging new partnerships, and in putting one’s weight on the forward foot – Airmen, see the similarities?

The constant mantra around the CIA these days is “integration” in order to achieve a global mission. In the U.S. that means the integrated efforts and dovetailing of operations, resources and infrastructure shared over many intelligence communities.

Currently, the Air Force plays a vital and integral role in CIA intelligence with a shared battlespace. Director Hayden went so far as to say, that Airmen are sitting side by side with CIA officers – making decisions 24/7. He believes this is a perfect marriage of synergy between the two organizations.

Director Hayden believed that in the past the Air Force’s intelligence network was more narrowly defined, yet now goes beyond into all things cyber. And he said it’s more likely than ever that many in the Air Force “will receive intelligence in their inbox.”

Dr. Hayden explained to Airmen how intelligence can drive operations while using response and keeping the weight constantly on the forward foot. He said he believes that the best way to study your enemy is by taking action and awaiting their response, analyzing this to find patterns of predictability and then acting with a precise response that will directly deter and curtail enemy reactions.

During the Cold War the enemy was easy to find, hard to kill he said. During the era of counter-terrorism the enemy is hard to find, easy to kill. He believes we are entering an intelligence horizon where we must act with far more operational programs than ever before.


Director Hayden stated we must be enablers of support functions and that intelligence still plays a vital role yet now in an operational capacity. “We must use military operations to excite the enemy – in enemy response – we learn a lot!” With every military action we learn a lot more concerning intelligence. We need this kinetic activity to put the enemy in motion, then intelligence will follow, since operations creates opportunities to learn more of our enemies stated Director Hayden.

Regarding positioning the CIA to respond with high integrity and foreign capabilities, he has launched an aggressive campaign to lead with the most weight on the forward foot, meaning that he has taken the lion-share of his younger officers and strategically planted them in forward operations where there is often times no military nor diplomatic support. We would all be amazed at how many intelligence officers are already on the ground around the world, he said.

“We operate ahead of the Skirmish Line”, stated Director Hayden, which means that their officers move far ahead of the main body of war and are the first to engage. He then quoted from John Buford’s stance at Gettysburg during the Civil War to state that he had held the line until further force could be brought to bear.

The primary mission for new officers is to be the best clandestine operatives in the world. First that is done by being more creative in forms of strategic cover, blending in with the cultural, political and religious fabric. Secondly, those operators are strategically placed in situations of high risk with no military or diplomatic backup support.

Since 911 from 2001-2007 the CIA has grown in staff and in strategic locations. Knowing that in the Air Force formerly it took more than 16 years to create and build a squadron command, in a parallel arena, the CIA wanted to create a leadership division with the equivalent of twenty years experience with analysis expertise and long time-on-target experience. Their objective with this realization was to “kick their analysts out of Langley,” and immerse them into foreign countries. Their mission was to communicate in the foreign language of their duty station, and to leave them there longer to create time-on-target experience.

What we don’t want are artificial demands on command experience, Director Hayden stated, you want professional expertise, so we need to retool this in the Air Force. He said there’s a need foreign expertise in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Kurdish, and Turkish, etc. Hayden believes we have not seen a significant shift in academia to reflect this need regarding studies in the Middle East as we saw in the 1950s toward education about the Soviet Union.

Hayden’s vision for the future of the CIA Intelligence is a shared vision of integration spanning all intelligence agencies government wide where the CIA culture is recognizable to intelligence officers not only from the Air Force but from all agencies creating a new level of familiarity and comfort. He commented that they live by the same guide principles as Airmen, service before self, team before individual, and excellence in every endeavor (similar to the Air Force core values).

Images courtesy http://www.cia.gov/. Posted by Captain David Faggard and Joseph Fordham, Air Force Public Affairs.

  • AFN Broadcaster

    So I just finished reading your “blogs.” The problem is, well, they’re not blogs. Rather, press releases/stories posted to a blog page. Are you ever going to open this up to a more candid snapshot of daily Air Force events?

  • SAFPA

    We just did. Check out the newest blog about the recent NGAUS Conference.You can expect to see more OP/ED pieces like that in the near future.