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French Algeria and British Northern Ireland: Legitimacy and the Rule of Law in Low-Intensity Conflict

Joint Interagency Cooperation: The First Step

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Matthew F. Bogdanos

Joint Force Quarterly
Issue 37

Colonel Matthew F. Bogdanos, USMC, was recalled to active duty after September 11 from his position as a New York City prosecutor. He is currently detailed to the National Strategic Gaming Center, Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.

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Joint Interagency Cooperation: The First Step

Shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores....To defeat this threat we must use every tool in our arsenal. -The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 2002)

On September 11, 2001, the United States possessed superb military forces, unparalleled information-collection assets, and dedicated intelligence analysts. But it failed to use them effectively, suffering from an almost systemic and often self-imposed lack of coordination and information-sharing among governmental agencies. When 19 terrorists hijacked 4 planes, murdering at least 2,973 men, women, and children from 70 countries, it was clear the status quo could no longer be tolerated.1 This new threat required the breadth of vision, speed of action, and management of resources that could be accomplished only through synchronizing all the elements of national power to achieve what General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls integrated operations, which must permeate all phases of conflict, from planning and war to stability and reconstruction. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) responded to this threat by creating a Joint Interagency Coordination Group (JIACG). It was only the first step, but it was an order of magnitude greater than any prior attempt. This article traces the development of the CENTCOM JIACG through two wars, using it as a case study to highlight the need for better and institutionalized interagency coordination at the operational level, and concludes with practical recommendations for using "every tool in our arsenal" to reduce the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.

Task forces and working groups designed to facilitate interagency coordination have existed for years, but they were usually ad hoc, limited in authority, narrow in scope, and viewed with suspicion by most governmental entities, including the Department of Defense (DOD). As a result, such organizations have had difficulty breaking down barriers and penetrating information stovepipes. For example, on September 11, the United States had at least five different lists of its most wanted terrorists.2 President George W. Bush had previously issued National Security Presidential Directive 1, replacing 102 interagency working groups with a three-tiered National Security Council (NSC) system for interagency coordination. But joint doctrine-the authoritative guidance that should have provided assistance in navigating interagency waters-lagged badly.3 According to Joint Vision 2020, "The primary challenge of interagency operations is to achieve unity of effort despite the diverse cultures, competing interests, and differing priorities of participating organizations."4

Crisis and Creation

There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain.
-Aeschylus, The Eumenides

Recognizing that combating terrorism requires capabilities beyond those of any single agency, General Tommy Franks, USA, Commander, CENTCOM, requested permission in October 2001 from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to establish an "interagency coordination cell" and assistance in soliciting participation from national-level agencies. Secretary Rumsfeld authorized a JIACG and granted it the rare authority to coordinate directly with the necessary agencies.

General Franks immediately tasked then-Brigadier General Gary Harrell, renowned for his team-oriented mission-first focus, with creating this interagency coordination cell and, in November 2001, approved a Joint Interagency Task Force-Counterterrorism (JIATF-CT) with 30 military billets and as many non-DOD personnel as could be recruited. General Harrell put together a team, drawing some members from CENTCOM (including this author) but most from the special forces community, and sent an advance team to Afghanistan the day after Thanksgiving 2001. The remainder deployed throughout December and, by the end of the year, JIATF-CT was fully functional.

A true interagency team emerged in the mountains of Afghanistan that first winter, with members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Diplomatic Security Service, Customs Service, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Defense Human Intelligence Service, New York's Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Justice, Treasury, and State Departments, among others. Through a small detachment at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, JIATF-CT established and maintained real-time communications between the field and Washington. Functioning primarily as an intelligence-gathering fusion center, while at the same time jointly operating Afghanistan's main interrogation facility in Bagram, JIATF-CT comprised 36 U.S. military, 57 non-DOD, and several British and Australian special forces personnel. Working side by side and sharing information, expertise, and resources, JIATF-CT achieved results out of all proportion to its size: the detention and interrogation of several senior al Qaeda members, the photographic identification of 11 of the -"Top 25" Taliban and al Qaeda participants sought by the United States, and the establishment of the first border-security program in Afghanistan using multiagency collection assets and biometric identification systems. Visiting in February 2002, General Myers observed "this is exactly what the Secretary and I had in mind."

Despite these successes, JIATF-CT lacked the resources to develop a theater-level or to shape a national-level interagency strategy. On returning stateside in April 2002 after Operation Anaconda, therefore, JIATF-CT began to transform from an operation-specific task force to a comprehensive JIACG better able to wage the long-term war on terrorism. In June 2002, General Harrell took command of Special Operations Command Central, and this author was appointed JIACG's deputy director, reporting to Brigadier General James Schwitters, a no-nonsense leader with superb interagency instincts.

In contrast to the speed with which CENTCOM had formed its JIATF-CT, the interagency process inside Washington crept. Secretary Rumsfeld requested assistance from the Deputies Committee in October 2001, JIATF-CT deployed to Afghanistan in November 2001, and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley twice solicited each agency's "views on DOD's proposal to augment selected [combatant commander] staffs with agency representatives"5 in December 2001. Yet it was not until January 29, 2002, that the Deputies Committee issued even a nonbinding memorandum on JIACGs. In a classic case of initiative preceding approval, the CIA, FBI, and Departments of Justice, Treasury, and State-each of which had already detailed personnel to JIATF-CT-supported the proposal and agreed to send people. U.S. Customs, which would prove one of the most valued members of JIACG for its superior databases and illicit-trafficking and terrorist-funding expertise, was not among the original agencies solicited. Worst of all, the Deputies Committee produced no memorandum of agreement on JIACGs, perhaps because agencies were reluctant to formalize the assignment of personnel to DOD for an untested concept.

The Joint Staff then issued its first specific guidance, confirming each JIACG's counterterrorism mission but prohibiting it from making policy, tasking non-DOD personnel, or altering lines of authority and coordination channels already in place. In short, JIACGs were created to execute and influence policy, but not to make it, and to establish new interagency links, but not to replace habitual relationships or traditional chains of command. The Joint Staff left to the commander the decision as to which of the three interagency communities JIACGs would coordinate: intelligence, political-military, or law-enforcement.

The Intelligence Community includes the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and others. At CENTCOM, the information-collection and analytical capabilities of these agencies were historically managed in the Joint Intelligence Center, while robust coordination with the CIA was conducted through the command's special adviser, an assigned representative from the Director of Central Intelligence. The Chairman's instruction was to continue using the joint intelligence center and CIA office, but to supplement those capabilities with additional intelligence and CIA personnel assigned to JIACG.

The political-military community, overseeing traditional civil-military operations such as humanitarian assistance and refugee control, as well as security assistance and foreign military sales, was the responsibility of the CENTCOM Plans Directorate in coordination with the commander's political adviser, a State Department representative of ambassadorial rank. JIACG was instructed to broaden and improve these relationships, but not to supplant them.

The law-enforcement community, however, enjoyed no formal relationship with CENTCOM prior to JIACG. In large part, this was because of the command's misplaced concerns about violating either the Posse Comitatus Act6 or intelligence oversight restrictions.7 The task, therefore, within multiple interagency environments and while still maintaining the tactical synergy achieved in Afghanistan, was to transform the combat-tested JIATF-CT into a JIACG capable of developing the operational depth to conduct theater-level planning and the strategic reach to shape national-level planning. To achieve concurrence after months of debate within the CENTCOM staff, JIACG agreed to support other staffs in four functional areas-political-military (or ambassadorial) activities, civil-military operations, intelligence fusion, and CIA-specific operational advice-while taking the lead on counterterrorism-related initiatives within the law-enforcement community. In September 2002, JIACG's proposed mission and force structure of 26 military positions were approved.8 Thereafter reporting directly to then-Major General Victor E. Renuart, Jr., a leader of extraordinary interagency vision and acumen, JIACG began developing a concept of operations based on five core principles designed to provide multiple-agency perspective, depth, and resources to the commander.

Determining that the most effective way to participate in command planning efforts was not to establish yet another working group, JIACG chose as its first principle to provide a representative to every major planning cell in the command. Because there were not enough agency representatives to attend every meeting, JIACG trained its military personnel in the missions, capabilities, and limitations of a dozen agencies and assigned them to specific cells. While this was labor-intensive-each JIACG officer was assigned to several cells-such omnipresent and proactive participation gave rise to true grass-roots interagency coordination. Prior to JIACG, a plan was usually in final draft before it was approved to be seen by other agencies. Through JIACG, however, all relevant agencies participated in the plan's actual development. While non-DOD representatives could not officially speak for their parent agencies, which would have stepped into the prohibited realm of policymaking, they could and did offer unofficial input by virtue of their expertise as members of their agencies. It was a subtle distinction, but it worked. Representatives also conducted informal coordination within their parent agencies in advance of the plan's release, enabling them to advise CENTCOM of what that particular agency's official position would ultimately be. This frequently allowed planners to resolve issues before they "officially" existed.

The second principle-that mission accomplishment, not pride of ownership, had to be the benchmark for any initiative-was designed to ensure that civilian-developed ideas received the same consideration as those generated by the military. Every product from JIACG was released without indicating whether DOD or another agency had proposed it. Each JIACG member then served as a zealous advocate for that plan. This honest-broker principle proved especially effective: both civilian and military members were often able to convince their respective commands to accept such proposals over initial objections.

Because any plan is only as good as the information it is based on, the third principle was to establish robust information-sharing procedures to manage the flow of information within JIACG. The imperative was to avoid the operational failures inevitably associated with functioning in insular information stovepipes. Because everyone in JIACG operated on the same network and had the same top-secret security clearance, two significant impediments to information sharing were removed. To complete the transformation, however, JIACG enforced an "everybody or nobody" approach that was not just a catchy phrase but a core value. Every member of JIACG-both military and civilian-was required to send all messages, reports, and cables to every other member. Moreover, by making available the results produced
from each agency's information-collection assets and establishing direct access to each agency's database, JIACG established an unprecedented flow of DOD- and non-DOD-generated information among agencies. Because most law-enforcement agencies operate proprietary software on incompatible networks, an unexpected advantage was that JIACG also provided agencies a forum for receiving information generated by other agencies. Thus, such agencies as Customs, the Secret Service, and the FBI often learned more about each others' activities through their JIACG members than through traditional channels.

Because CENTCOM forces are spread over the globe, as a fourth principle, JIACG provided both interagency-trained liaison officers and task-organized teams to those forces. Varying in size, a team could have interrogators, interpreters, computer-forensic experts, financial analysts, or document examiners from the CIA, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Treasury. This export of liaison officers and mini-JIACGs brought the same force-multiplying benefits to subordinate commands that JIACG brought to CENTCOM. Operating at the tactical level with robust communications assets, those teams often developed actionable intelligence beyond the ability of the unit's organic intelligence assets.

Finally, because of geographic dispersion, each member of JIACG, military and civilian, was required to prepare a situation report listing the day's events and future initiatives. Used by this author to ensure that each agency's actions were consistent with the overall campaign plan, its real value lay in its dissemination by each member to each member. Such JIACG-wide situational awareness avoided duplication of effort and generated collaborative, multiagency solutions to every initiative.

After the mission and concept of operations were approved within the command, there followed months of briefings at a dozen agencies to enlist their support for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Any agency's support had to be voluntary because there was still no formal agreement. The challenge was to convince them to "volunteer." Joint Publication 5-0, Doctrine for Planning Joint Operations, suggests using "committees, steering groups, or interagency working groups organized by functional needs" to achieve desired goals.9 Perhaps that is one component, but interagency coordination at the operational level really depends on the persuasiveness, commitment, and credibility of the leaders involved. The more engaged and flexible the leader, the more effective the coordination.

Inspired leadership, however, was not enough. Integrating the elements of national power by leveraging each agency's core competencies most effectively requires knowing which agency does what best. Requesting the right number, seniority, and skill sets of representatives from that agency requires knowing its culture and method of operation. The common denominator here is knowledge. For Iraq, it also required advance scouting to determine who in that agency's hierarchy might accept the novel JIACG concept as well as who (usually a different person) had the authority to approve it. Multiple briefs to the same agency were standard. Based on the information acquired, JIACG tailored each request to that agency's objectives and capabilities. That enabled each agency to provide properly organized and resourced teams to CENTCOM.

The issue of command was more difficult. Under the Chairman's guidance, other agencies could not be tasked by DOD, a reasonable constraint in a headquarters setting but not in combat. We agreed that each agency's headquarters would retain tasking authority (in DOD terms, operational control) of all of its deployed members, but that the senior JIACG military member in the field would have direction and control of all movements necessary to accomplish whatever tasks were assigned (in DOD terms, tactical control) of those members. Although unorthodox, it worked. Concerned that all JIACG members comply with the Geneva Convention, we also agreed that all deploying civilians would wear desert camouflage uniforms (without rank insignia) and carry DOD-issued identification. Moreover, because those who operate in a combat zone should carry the firearms on which they have trained, each civilian deployed with standard-issue weapons, despite the logistical challenges created.

By the time CENTCOM completed preparations and moved its forward headquarters to Qatar in February 2003, JIACG had grown to 28 military and 54 civilian members, adding the Department of Energy, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the State Department's International Information Programs. While the coalition advanced north in late March, our JIACG team entered Umm Qasr with unprecedented tasks in a combat zone: to search for evidence identifying terrorist-financing networks and terrorist activity in the United States, to investigate UN Security Council Resolution violations, and to initiate criminal investigations of U.S. and foreign individuals who aided Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. Operating in Basra, Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Mosul, JIACG repeated the successes of Afghanistan, drafting the DOD rewards program for information about prohibited materials or high-value individuals, investigating stolen Iraqi antiquities (resulting in the recovery of over 5,000 artifacts in 6 countries), conducting crime-scene examinations of all bombings with U.S. civilian casualties, and uncovering Saddam Hussein's schemes for financing illicit operations, to include the oil-for-food program. The situations for which JIACG teams were more suited than traditional military forces to address were legion: the detention by coalition forces of a combatant claiming to be a U.S. citizen, a foreign fighter found to be carrying an American telephone number, the discovery of UN-banned weapons with shipping documents, the recovery of prohibited equipment of foreign origin, the seizure of large amounts of U.S. currency, and the receipt of information on potential attacks in the United States.

The signal event for JIACG in Iraq, however, was the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty and the concomitant establishment of the U.S. Embassy on June 28, 2004. Because the State Department is the lead Federal agency for carrying out foreign policy, the Ambassador-the President's personal representative and senior U.S. official in country-directs all U.S. Government activities and personnel in that country other than military members operating under a combatant commander. The Ambassador is also responsible for approving U.S. Government strategy for that country, set forth in the mission performance plan prepared annually by the Embassy's country team, a standing interagency committee comprising the senior members of virtually every U.S. agency in that country.

As the combatant commander's equivalent of a country team, one of JIACG's usual functions is to ensure unity of effort between the combatant commander's theater-wide strategy and the Ambassador's country-specific mission performance plan. In Afghanistan and Iraq, however, because JIACG deployed prior to the establishment of a U.S. Embassy, it functioned as the de facto country team, assuming responsibility for all non-DOD law-enforcement agents in country. The real challenge in both countries was to effect a seamless transition to U.S. Embassy control of interagency operations. Only time will tell if we were successful.

Current Challenges

Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs. Avoid, therefore, undue elation in prosperity or undue despair in adversity. -Socrates

While JIACG was being tested in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Joint Staff's assessment in April 2003 found that JIACGs "integrated...U.S. Government objectives in each region, and created a forum for...interagency operational planning and coordination,"10 and U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) found that "JIACG has gained universal acceptance."Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz then notified Deputy National Security Adviser Hadley in August 2003 that "all participating Federal agencies and host combatant commands voiced strong support for the [JIACG] initiative."12 As a result, in October 2003, the Chairman tasked the National Defense University (NDU) to develop an operational-level, interagency education program.13 Returning from Iraq in summer 2004, this author was detailed to NDU to assist in developing this program.

In December 2003, DOD requested, and for the first time agreed to pay for, individuals experienced in staff work from the State Department, the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Division, and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to augment the JIACGs of all nine combatant commands. Unfortunately, this decision overlooked the possible effect on the nonreimbursed agencies, each of which predictably became less inclined to continue providing representatives for JIACGs after they learned they did not make the final cut. Of similar concern was the decision to fund the same agencies for every JIACG. Until this funding decision, and within broad guidelines, each combatant commander had always been encouraged to design a JIACG to meet the command's specific needs. The FBI and the State and Treasury Departments are undeniably valuable, but so are others. Each command should be permitted to choose its funded agencies. Despite such concerns, DOD funding of these JIACG positions is a step in the right direction.

Other steps remain. Because there is still no published doctrine on JIACG, conflicting visions abound. Some, albeit the dwindling minority, think JIACG should be nothing more than a facilitator for the interagency activities of other staff sections, particularly the Intelligence and Plans Directorates that have long been conducting interagency coordination in their narrowly focused worlds. Concerned about losing traditional roles and missions, they believe the prior world of information stovepipes only needs improved technology and additional personnel to become fully functional. And some poker players believe they can draw to an inside straight.

The special forces community points to the successes in Afghanistan and argues that JIACGs should operate as task forces in the covert world at the tactical level. For example, they cogently argue the benefits of an interagency-coordinated interrogation, postulating the synergistic effect on a terrorist who, within hours of capture, is told that the State Department has his visa application from Yemen, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has his entry stamp in Los Angeles a month later, the Federal Aviation Administration has the ticket for his subsequent flight to New York without luggage, and Treasury has seized his bank account-as the FBI plays a recording from his last telephone conversation. Such proponents, however, gloss over the lack of operational planning capability and the inability to shape national-level strategy.

Conversely, JFCOM-responsible for developing future concepts for joint warfighting-proposed (in draft) that JIACG become "a small interagency coordination staff element comprised [sic] mostly of civilian[s] a staff directorate of 12."14 Perhaps such a specialized directorate should exist, but it will likely be quickly marginalized -by the high-speed, results-based staffs of combatant commanders engaged in the war on terrorism. And it is unlikely to produce anything except good concept papers. If purely military planning cells are obsolete (and they are), purely civilian cells are no less so. Nor should JIACG be transformed into a think tank. It is undeniably important that JIACG members understand the labyrinthine world inside the Beltway, but it is more important for them to know who has the most comprehensive database (Customs), who can pay for what kind of information (DOD, CIA, State, Justice, and Customs each have different reward programs), the difference between the DEA and the State Department's International Narcotics Law-Enforcement section, and the strategic border-security advantages and limitations of available biometric systems. Smart is good; but smart action by those senior enough to make decisions-but not so senior as to have forgotten how to execute-is better.

Among the three major challenges facing JIACGs today, the foremost is the lack of a single, national-level organization issuing guidance, managing competing agency policies, and directing agency participation in JIACGs. In short, NSC expects unity of effort without unity of command. While differing agency viewpoints add depth to any plan, there is a fine line between principled adherence to core values and unproductive intransigence-with every agency often guilty of the latter. Moreover, there is no single standard directing when individual agencies must begin interagency participation in their crisis- or deliberate-planning processes. It may be obvious that coordination should be conducted as early as possible-after all, conducting interagency coordination only after the plan has been approved for interagency coordination is like asking what you should wear only after you are dressed: time-consuming at best, doomed at worst. But senior decisionmakers within each agency, particularly within DOD, are more comfortable with traditional vertical planning. It enables them to develop their plan fully before allowing other agencies to critique it, but they are also hesitant to offer other agencies multiple points of entry into their internal decisionmaking process, preferring to address interagency disagreements only once-and that being at the policymaker level. The overriding concern, though, seems to be that interagency coordination, at whatever level, necessarily implicates policy.

The solution is not centralization of interagency coordination at the highest levels of government, but clearer inter- and intra-agency guidance. The goal must be truly horizontal interagency planning performed virtually simultaneously at the tactical (task force), operational (combatant command), and strategic (Joint Staff) levels, tied together by each agency's clear policy directives derived from the National Security Strategy. In the absence of unity of command, an often proposed solution is to adopt the "lead Federal agency" concept, under which, for each specific task, a particular agency or department has the lead. But under this concept, supporting agencies can still refuse to participate in specific operations, as often happens within the law-enforcement community during joint investigations. Despite its surface appeal, therefore, such noncompulsory concepts are less suited to the hostile environments in which DOD operates than are more formal command and control relationships. Consensus, so difficult at the strategic level inside the Beltway and so necessary at the operational level of the combatant command, has no place on a battlefield where the time required to achieve it is a luxury seldom afforded the tactical-level commander. Enlightened leadership at every level remains the key to unity of effort.

A second challenge is the lack of government-wide standards for information sharing among agencies, exacerbated by the lack of a communications architecture linking those agencies. While collaborative technology that can link agencies along a trusted information network already exists, no agencies have been directed (and few have the resources) to install such systems. But true horizontal interagency coordination requires equally true horizontal interagency information exchange at all levels. A practical interim solution would be to establish a secure domain, like the secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNET), dedicated to interagency coordination DOD funding of computers, wiring, and related equipment, but its benefits would be immediate. It would also allow time to develop and install efficient and user-friendly networks at each agency. That would require that satisfy still-yet-to-be-established standardized security protections.
Sufficient staffing is the final pressing issue. Although Secretary Rumsfeld authorized JIACGs, DOD created no additional positions. Each commander, therefore, had to staff JIACG by reassigning personnel from within an already understaffed command. The CENTCOM solution was to create temporary wartime JIACG positions using mobilized Reservists, usually found by JIACG members combing the Ready Reserve lists for familiar names. Because many Reservists work in law-enforcement in their civilian jobs, JIACG Reservists provided an unanticipated source of success through the two-for-one leveraging of their military and law-enforcement experience and contacts. After 3 years, JIACG's members are still primarily Reservists, but that pool is almost dry, and the joint manning document still does not include JIACG positions. Non-DOD agencies face a similar problem. With few exceptions, overseas deployments of civilians must be voluntary, and many agencies have already run out of volunteers.


Fortune is never on the side of the fainthearted.
-Sophocles, Phædra Fragment 842

Each of the major players-combatant commanders, DOD, and NSC-must act to address the above challenges to ensure JIACG's continued existence as a force multiplier in the war on terrorism.

At the combatant commands, the JIACG should report directly to the chief of staff or deputy commander.15 Such senior leadership is essential to ensure unity of effort among the individual staff directorates that might otherwise view interagency issues from their necessarily narrow and sometimes competing perspectives. It would also enhance direct coordination with the senior-level non-DOD representatives necessary for JIACG operations.

Second, to achieve consensus and overall direction on its interagency activities, each combatant command should establish an interagency executive steering group to function as an operational-level policy coordination committee. Chaired by the deputy commander, co-chaired by the command's political adviser, and staffed by the command's directors and senior DOD and other agency representatives, this group should guide the command's interagency policy, review and initiate major interagency proposals, and manage competing priorities.

Third, combatant commands must provide JIACGs sufficient military staffing to enable them to continue performing their necessarily varied functions. JIACG's military members serve as planners in all major planning cells within the command; as detachment commanders when task-organized JIACG teams deploy throughout the world; as liaison officers providing interagency connectivity with subordinate command staffs and U.S. Embassies; and as mentors, training JIACG civilians on military missions, capabilities, and limitations. JIACG must be staffed to continue these duties at the operational tempo necessary to defeat today's asymmetric threats.

DOD must also act. First, it must promulgate doctrine to institutionalize JIACG and establish a minimum set of mission-essential tasks. Second, it must revise the joint manning document to staff JIACGs commensurate with their assigned mission. Using the model proposed here, which is based on CENTCOM's experience of coordinating activities in 27 countries spanning 10 time zones, and twice having grown to over 100 members deployed in 6 countries, this should include a minimum of 30 active-duty and 8 Reserve positions. The latter number would enable JIACG to maintain surge capability and to continue leveraging civilian experience.

Nor can NSC remain idle. The United States faces the same challenges with interagency coordination today that the military faced with joint doctrine in 1986, when Congress, weary of competing service cultures and institutionally driven intransigence, passed the Goldwater-Nichols Act. While significantly enhancing the joint warfighting capabilities of the Armed Forces, the legislation itself was far from perfect and required amendment. Now as then, it is surely preferable for the executive branch to develop its own internal procedures and requirements rather than having Congress dictate them. NSC should formalize the JIACG concept by establishing minimum standards of participation by each agency and a standardized interagency planning process at the operational level.

Second, NSC should replace the current ad-hoc, personality-dependent form of information sharing among agencies by establishing and enforcing minimum standards of information sharing at the appropriate classification level. The goal is to protect the sources and methods from which the information derives while still mandating robust information exchange. Moreover, because JIACG operates at the unclassified, confidential, secret, and top-secret levels, its members must have the necessary clearances and its networks the necessary protections. The current practice of different agencies having individual security-clearance procedures should be replaced by one in which a single agency is responsible for establishing, providing, and maintaining all clearances within the Federal Government.

Finally, NSC should create a joint interagency designation similar to the DOD joint-specialty officer designation, requiring attendance by military and civilian members at an interagency education program designed by the National Defense University.


September 11 demonstrated the need for a new approach to the application of the elements of national power. In a world increasingly dominated by the need for the swift identification, integration, and use of the capabilities of multiple agencies, effective interagency coordination has emerged as the best way to defeat today's threats. By harmonizing otherwise isolated governmental actions through the facilitation of synchronized planning at multiple levels from multiple perspectives, combatant-command JIACGs address operational planning deficiencies that have historically undermined mission success in complex contingencies. Properly used, JIACGs enhance decisionmaking speed, increase plan breadth, and create rapid, integrated solutions. In the war on terrorism, JIACG is not the finest tool in the box; it is the box itself.


1 Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2004).

2 The State Department's TIPOFF program, the Federal Aviation Administration's "No-Fly" list, and the CIA's, FBI's, and U.S. Customs Service's individual watch lists.

3 Consider the following: Although civilian agencies usually have a lead role in military operations other than war, Joint Doctrine for Military Operations Other Than War, Joint Publication 3-07 (1995), has only one substantive reference to interagency coordination: that it "will often involve other...agencies." While Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Joint Publication 3-07.1, addresses using military forces in support of civilian agencies, its focus is only on U.S. operations "in support of host-nation efforts," and Special Operations Command is the lead agency for drafting the FID revision, that is, interagency coordination is for special operations. Joint Staff (J7), Program Directive for JP 3-07.1 for Foreign Internal Defense, GEN-ADMIN 282232Z Jun 02. The "Interagency Coordination," chapter of Joint Forces Capabilities, Joint Publication 3-33 (1999), merely observes that "nonmilitary organizations provide valuable knowledge, expertise, and unique capabilities." Joint Doctrine for Campaign Planning, Joint Publication 5-00.1 (2002) notes that "during...interagency planning, heavy...commander involvement...and coordination will be a key to success," but does not explain how to effect such coordination. Even Interagency Coordination during Joint Operations, Joint Publication 3-08 (October 1996) envisions its recommended interagency coordination cells as temporary and post-hoc, requiring close coordination "with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff."

4 Joint Vision 2020 (2000), 26.

5 Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley, "DoD Proposal to Augment CINC Staffs," memorandum for NSC Deputies Committee, January 29, 2001, 2.

6 The Posse Comitatus Act, an 1878 law prohibiting using the Army to "execute the laws," except where authorized by the U.S. Constitution or Congress, 18 U.S. Code 1385, applies to the Air Force by amendment (1956) and Navy by DOD regulation, 32 C.F.R. Section 213.2 (1992). Federal military personnel operating pursuant to Presidential power to quell domestic violence and National Guard forces operating under Title 32 state authority are exempt from the act. Moreover, under 1981 amendments, 10 U.S. Code 371-78, supportive and technical assistance, for example, the use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, technological aids, and surveillance, are permitted, while only direct participation of DOD personnel in such activities as searches, seizures, and arrests are prohibited. The act itself contains no prohibition against military receiving law-enforcement-generated information.

7 Intelligence oversight is regulated by E.O.12333, with implementing policy in DOD 5240 1-R. Military intelligence components may collect information on U.S. persons when that component has the mission to do so, the information falls within a specified category (notably foreign intelligence and counterintelligence), and the U.S. persons are reasonably believed to be engaged in terrorist activities. If that collection occurs within the United States, there must also be a connection with a foreign power or organization.

8 "JIACG facilitates planning by Commander, U.S. Central Command, and staff; coordinates information sharing between U.S. military and U.S. governmental agencies; and advises the Commander, U.S. Central Command, and staff on interagency issues in the execution of U.S. Central Command's mission." Matthew F. Bogdanos, Joint Interagency Coordination Group (JIACG) Mission, CCJIACG Position Paper (MacDill Air Force Base: U.S. Central Command, September 17, 2002), 1.

9 Doctrine for Planning Joint Operations, Joint Publication 5-0, Second Draft (2002), II-14.

10 Joint Staff (DJS), Joint Interagency Coordination Group (JIACG) Assessment, GENADMIN 010947ZApr02, 3.

11 Joint Forces Command, Joint Interagency Coordination Group (JIACG) Initial Concept of Operations, Draft Prototype Version 1.0, February 27, 2004, 6.

12 Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul K. Wolfowitz, "Joint Interagency Coordination Groups (JIACG) Assessment," memorandum for the Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser, August 19, 2003, 1.

13 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard B. Myers, "Development of Joint Interagency Coordination Group Education Program," memorandum for the President, National Defense University, October 29, 2003, 1.

14 Joint Forces Command, 9.

15 In July 2004, Central Command's JIACG began reporting directly to the Deputy Commander, who ordered the establishment of an interagency executive steering committee to meet monthly. Its first meeting was in August 2004.


On February 14-17, 2005, the National Defense University held the first operational-level, executive-branch-wide course on Joint Interagency Coordination Groups for over 100 participants from 18 different agencies and departments.

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