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Since September 11, 2001, the CIA and DoD have operated together in Afghanistan, Iraq, and during counterterrorism operations.  Although the Global War on Terrorism gave the CIA and DoD a common purpose, it was actions taken in the late eighties and early nineties that set the foundation for their current relationship.  Driven by the post-Cold War environment and lessons learned during military operations, policymakers made intelligence support to the military the Intelligence Community’s top priority. In response to this demand, the CIA/DoD instituted policy and organizational changes that altered the CIA/DoD relationship. While debates over the future of the Intelligence Community were occurring on Capitol Hill, the CIA and DoD were expanding their relationship in peacekeeping and nation-building operations in Somalia and the Balkans. 

By the late 1990’s, some policymakers and national security professionals became concerned that intelligence support to military operations had gone too far, weakening the long-term analysis required for strategy and policy development.  Despite these concerns, no major changes to either national intelligence organizations or its priorities were implemented. These concerns were forgotten after 9/11, as the United States fought two wars and policymakers increasingly focused on tactical and operational actions.  As policymakers became fixated with terrorism and the United States fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the CIA focused a significant amount of its resources towards supporting military operations.

The CIA/DoD operational relationship has led to successes such as the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, but CIA’s counterterrorism and military support requirements have placed a significant burden on the organization.  As the United States’ only independent intelligence organization, the CIA was conceived to separate the collection of intelligence from the institutions that develop and execute policy. The CIA’s increased focus on support to military operations weakens this separation, reduces its focus on strategic issues, and risks subordination to the DoD.  The CIA and DoD are the ones immediately affected by this evolving relationship, but it is policymaker preference for military force and the militarization of foreign policy that has led both organizations down this path.


"A first-time unique insight into an unseen history and evolution of the collaboration between two of the most critical national security agencies of the US government: the CIA and the DoD. Written not by an observer or reader, but by an intelligence professional who, in Iraq, experienced personally the complicated relationship between CIA and DoD, this book should be read by all serious national security students and professionals.”-Douglas H. Wise, Retired Senior CIA Operations Officer and Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency 

"[U]ndoubtedly the most comprehensive treatment to date of the history of coordination and operational cooperation between the Department of Defense and the intelligence community."-David Edger, Senior Fellow at the University of Oklahoma's Center for Intelligence and National Security

"David Oakley's new book, Subordinating Intelligence, fills a historical void and raises challenging questions regarding the evolving relationship between CIA and the Department of Defense.  As an accomplished scholar with operational service in both organizations, Dr. Oakley is uniquely qualified to address these issues.  Oakley skillfully presents not only the post-Cold War history, but the enduring tensions created by directing the Agency to support the array of customers DNI Clapper used to describe as ranging "from the Oval Office to the oval fox hole." As two critical pillars of US national security, the DOD/CIA relationship is as critical as the CIA's relationship with the FBI, but the latter has received much more attention in recent years. This book is unique in teeing questions on how we strike the optimal balance in harnessing the CIA's ability to help the war fighters without damaging the Agency's independence or it strategic focus in support of the President."-J. Paul Pope, Professor of Practice and Senior Fellow in the Intelligence Studies Project at the University of Texas-Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs

"[A] rich and unrivaled account...Though historical in focus, the subject matter could not be more relevant for today's times."-David H. Ucko, author of The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the US Military for Modern War

Journal Reviews

1. Military Review

2. InterAgency Journal

3. Joint Forces Quarterly

4. Survival

5. The Strategy Bridge

6. Special Operations Journal

7. Journal of Advanced Military Studies

8. Marine Corps History

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