A View from the CT Foxhole: David Caulfield, Former Chief, Defense Combating Terrorism Center, Defense Intelligence Agency.

AuthorYon, Richard M.

CTC: You have worked in the field of intelligence for nearly four decades, including considerable time spent with the U.S. Navy and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). What led you to pursue a career in public service? And what kept you in public service all this time? What accomplishment are you most proud of during that time period?

Caulfield: Why did I get into this business? That's a very good question. I was born in the late 1950s, grew up in the 1960s and 1970s; they were very formative years for myself, of course, but also very dynamic when it came to politics and international security issues. I just got wrapped up in the times and started studying a lot of history and politics. So, it was just natural for me to continue in that vein. Additionally, my father's side of the family has an extensive military history in this country dating back even before the American Revolution and in Europe. So maybe it was a little of nature and nurture that guided me to this profession.

Secondly, I just had one great job after the other, both in the Navy as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency. Growing up in New England, very close to the water, the U.S. Navy was a natural choice. My father and most of his brothers in Rhode Island had boats; it's almost a requirement to have a boat in that state. And then I made the switch in 1993 to be a DIA civilian. I've had several fantastic jobs. I've worked for great bosses and with outstanding colleagues and friends. And I've had, as one of my fellow seniors said, quite the eclectic career: working all-source analysis; human intelligence collection; operational support; strategy, plans, and policy; Congressional testimony and speech writing, foreign partner engagement and combating terrorism, which I've worked in various positions, but most intensely, the last six years as the deputy and then the chief of the Defense Combating Terrorism Center.

You asked about what I'm proud of. Three jobs in particular stand out in my mind. The first one is working as the senior involved in strategy, plans, and policy for the Defense Intelligence Agency and speech writing for Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby (a) and Lieutenant General Michael Maples (b) at a very critical time in both defense intelligence and the U.S. intelligence community. I was responsible for preparing those two directors for their congressional hearings on the worldwide threat testimony, the annual budget testimony, the war in Iraq, and intelligence reform. It was an interesting time addressing the conclusions and recommendations from both the WMD Commission report as well as the 9/11 Commission report, getting very much involved in intelligence reform in the middle of the 2000s. That was important. I'm proud to have contributed to that effort, and I think because of all of our work in the intelligence community, the U.S. Intelligence Community is in a much stronger position now than it has ever been in the past. And I think you're seeing the benefits of that over the past decade, in addition to the intelligence successes we've had going on right now regarding the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The second thing I'm most proud of is that I stood up the Defense Intelligence Agency Liaison office in Berlin. That really was a very rewarding job for me personally, working with German intelligence both on the civilian foreign intelligence side as well as the defense intelligence side. And also working with all of the Defense Intelligence Enterprise; and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise really is not only DIA, but the Service Intelligence Centers as well as all the Combatant Command J2s [Intelligence Directorate]. I was representing their interests with German intelligence and brokering increased information sharing and collection operations. And I tell you, it was an eye-opening experience to take a look from the German perspective at the strength of U.S. intelligence and particularly Defense Intelligence, and then developing and deepening that relationship. I was there from 2009 to 2013 where we dealt with the fallout from Wikileaks as well as the release of classified intelligence from Edward Snowden. So, I can tell you there were a lot of tense meetings with our German colleagues at the time, but I think we came through it quite well in part because we had developed such a rich and cooperative relationship with German intelligence.

And the last one, of course, has got to be my job with Defense Combating Terrorism Center (DCTC) and what we have been doing over the past six years to provide intelligence support to all of our consumers to include the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all the way down to the individual special operations task forces who are going after terrorists in a number of areas around the world. To be able to work through all the declining resources in Defense Intelligence when it came to combating terrorism matters and still produce outstanding intelligence and intelligence support. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued intelligence operations, making sure nothing fell through the cracks. I'm very proud of that and proud of my leadership team, all the personnel in DCTC and the rest of the combating terrorism intelligence professionals in the U.S. Intelligence Community. I don't think we missed a beat through COVID, and I think that's saying a lot.

CTC: Prior to your recent retirement, you led the DCTC at DIA. Can you tell us a little bit about the history, purpose, and evolution of DCTC during your career at DIA?

Caulfield: DIA's been in counterterrorism, both collection and analysis, for quite some time. The agency has existed since the first days of the Kennedy administration, about 61 years. For the last 40 years, DIA has been very much involved in combating terrorism. Before that, really the early 1980s, I think we considered CT the realm of the security and counterintelligence entities of the Department of Defense. The all-source analytic portion and human intelligence collection of DIA was marginally involved, but not to the extent it became since then. Over the last 40 years, a series of major terrorist attacks resulted in significant changes in approach. In the wake of those attacks, blue-ribbon panels were created either by the Department or the White House to investigate what the challenges were and propose reforms, and this formed the foundation of how DIA currently does business. The first set of formative lessons learned came out of the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut and the subsequent Long Commission report. The second came out of the 1996 Khobar Towers attack and the Downing Assessment report. The third stemmed from the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the USS Cole Commission report. I was actually a staff member on the commission and contributed to the investigation and recommendations. The fourth came out of the 9/11 attacks and the 9/11 Commission report. I was there that day in the Pentagon, and so I can vouch for the impact that attack made on the Department and country and the resolve that we came out with that day to prevent a similar attack on our fellow citizens and allies. And then last, but not least, a formative set of lessons learned came out of the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood and the Webster Commission report on that attack.

These five reports formed the foundation of what we should be doing in intelligence, increasing resources to counterintelligence, human intelligence reporting, and all-source analysis. The Long report on the Beirut Marine Barracks attack and Downing report on the Khobar Towers attack were important in spurring us to build target packages on various groups that we thought contributed to these attacks and providing options to attack these groups to prevent future attacks. The USS Cole Commission report identified gaps in our intelligence support to DoD forces moving throughout...

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