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This history, issued in August 2019, has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This study will examine in more detail how CIA’s growing capability to do independent analysis of the Soviet military threat led to major disagreements with the U.S. armed services over Soviet military capabilities and intentions, beginning in the Dulles era. Much has already been written about these controversies and how they played out. This history will focus primarily on the role that key CIA leaders and managers played in the development of the Agency’s military analytic capabilities, rather than on the controversies themselves. It will also provide detailed information on how OSR was formed and on those individuals who contributed heavily to its success.
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
The first chapter of this history of OSR examines the Dulles era and the key people involved in the growing capability of ORR to do independent Soviet military force assessments. This capability grew out of CIA’s efforts to use a building-block approach to better define the Soviet defense budget, partially by attempting to more precisely estimate the cost of Soviet weapons production. Dulles initially believed strongly that the military services had been given the authority to produce military intelligence for policymakers and that CIA should not challenge the results of such efforts. He changed his view with the advent of the so-called bomber and missile-gap controversies in the late 1950s. The controversies were not fully resolved until the development of new satellite photographic collection capabilities in the early 1960s led to more accurate assessments of Soviet strategic forces. Chapter two focuses on the significant growth of CIA’s capability to do strategic military analysis in the early 1960s during the tenure of DCI John McCone. President John F. Kennedy appointed McCone to replace Allen Dulles in November 1961 in the wake of the Bay of Pigs debacle. Unlike Dulles, McCone believed strongly that CIA needed to do its own independent analysis and make key judgments on a wide range of topics, including strategic military intelligence, without having to rely on input from DoD. In the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962, McCone also argued that CIA needed to be informed about what was happening in defense policy so the DCI could provide President Kennedy with the kinds of intelligence support he expected. As a result, under McCone, CIA’s support to national policymakers became more frequent and direct, and such interactions were no longer tied primarily to NIEs.
The Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962 represented a significant intelligence success for McCone and his new senior DI leadership team in providing detailed military intelligence support to the president and senior policymakers. As a result, CIA’s intelligence support to Pentagon planners began to expand dramatically, and CIA also began to provide Soviet intelligence analysis to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). China’s strategic weapons programs got new attention, as did Soviet ground forces. These efforts required closer interaction between CIA and the newly formed DIA, and conflicts began to develop between the two organizations over roles and responsibilities. Finally, the process for producing NIEs on Soviet strategic military forces began to change significantly as a result of the new DoD requirements for more comprehensive analysis of the Soviet military establishment.