THE PERFORMANCE OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY BEFORE THE ARAB-ISRAELI WAR OF OC

Created: 12/20/1973

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The Performance of the Intelligence Community Beforeah-lsraeli War 'ofreliminary Post-Mortem Report

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Submitted by the DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Following Review by the United States Intelligence Board

Copy N2 55

Prepared by the Intelligence Community Staff

war

ivulainv mloimallou aifi*tingT*Jcn*lioual security ofStates within the meaning (it the wiiiotiap'RhtaU. S, Codehe law prohibits itsion or theof its (ohltnn In any manner tounant hot lied pcftaQ, its welluse fn atiy marsttei ptejiiduial to tlir safety of in!mat oftfceoe for (beny foreign government lo tbeStates- It s* to iXan-it only by prronncl especiallyauthorized to receiveinignaled controlsecuritybei with regulations pertaining

No action is to I" TK^tivmmnmicattons intelligence

which may be contained herein.advantage to be

if such action might have the effect nl re*ralirW tlie existence and nature

of the source, unless such action Is Brsj approVad^ by Ihc appropriate

authority,

The overall classTtiution and the classification of Section III of this doSh*ajjt is as indicated on this page. Tho "Principal Condtjsiftnsjndis TOP SECRET Sections I. II, IV. and

the performance of the intelligence community before the arab-israeli war ofreliminary post-mortem report

note

This Is the first of several reports concerning the activities of the Intelligence Community before and during the Arab-Israeli War of3 which will be submitted to the NSCIC by the DCI or hishis particular studyroad variety of topics andubstantial number of problems. But it assesses the Community's activities only for that period which preceded the outbreak of warctober, and is subject to the limits imposed by the press of time, the availability of data, and the recency of the events examined. Additional data and further consideration of it may yet yield new perceptions and amended judgments.

"For purposes of this paper, the term Community indicates those organizations which are represented at USIB and which are normally responsible for the collection of Intelligence information and/or the production of finished intelligence,IA, DfA, StatefINR. and NSA.

PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

y*as. an intelligence failure in the weeks preceding thewar in the Middle Eastctober. Those elements of theresponsible for the production of finished intelligence didthe growing possibility of an Arab attack and thus did not warnimminence.

The information provided by those parts of the Community responsible for intelligence collection was sufficient to promptarning. Such information (derived from both human and technical sources) was not conclusive but was plentiful, ominous, and often accurate.

post-mortem survey suggests that there were errorsrocfcja'ng offices. These can be attributed, in pan, topreconceptions lying behind the analysis, and also to variousaffecting the analytical effort.

Certain substantive preconceptions, reinforced by official Israeli interpretations, turned the analyst's attention principally toward political indications that the Arabs were bent on finding non-violent means to achieve their objectives and away from indications (mainly military) to the contrary.

It Is true, of course, that the analyst was faced with thedemanding task of discriminating between the good and Ihe bad in the flow of Information crossing his desk. And the machinery of which heart did not always make his msk any easier or proride himtematic ways to challenge the quality of his own.

e preliminarily reccmrriend that: (a) efforts be made to further attune aspects of the collection system to the needs of the analytical systems; (b) regular systems be established to encourage analysts to exchange views nnd challenge consensus and to improve their ability to evaluate data; (c| the Community's warning system bo revamped and the language of Its issuances be designed to clearly reflect degrees of probability; (d) the Community consider the advisability ofoherent national family of products for publication during periods of crisis; and le* the Community provide for continuing assessments of tho handling of intelligence during crises and potential crises. (These rocommondations are qrVen fullerin.f.)

inally, our preliminary post-mortem report has some implications for the general problem of resource allocation within the Community. If it is true in this instance that the collection effort was generally adequate but that our analytical effort was deficient,rogram to improve the latter will oblige us to try to augment the quantity, improve the environment, and add to the quality ot the manpower which devotes itself to the production of finished intelligence. This in turn might require us to find additional resources, and these might have to be drawn in part from other areas of effort within the Community.

I. KEY QUESTIONS

The performance of the Intelligence Community during the period preceding the outbreak of the recent war in the Middle East has been subjected to serious and persistent criticism. Specifically, it is charged that theisinterpreted the attitudes and motives of the Arabs toward each other, toward Israel, and toward the bigboth Arab and Israel military capabilities, inaccurately downgrading the former and excessively exalting theeries of political and military developments, particularly during the summer and fall;onsequence of all this, misinterpreted Arab intentions in September and early October.

This paper addresses these charges. In the process, an effort is made to provide preliminary answers to several key questions:

there, in fact, an intelligence failure during theup to the hostilities, and. if so. what was the nature of(This is addressed in Section II. THE COMMUNITY'S

background and documentation for A.hatspecifically, did the various intelligence agencies receivecollection efforts) and what, specifically, did they produceanalytical intelligence during the period in question?f

the notion of failure is indeed substantiated in thethe question then must be, essentially, what happened?other words, were the principal reasons for the failure, as best weat this early date?

D. Again assuming serious shortcomings in the Community'scan we identify some possible remedies and In this way help to avoid similar problems in the future? (Section V, PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS.)

II. THE COMMUNITY'S PERFORMANCE

The problem of whether there was or was not an imeiligence "failure" concerning the Middle East3 can be subdivided into three primary questions:

ere intelligence analysts given enough information in timectober) that the possibility of war was sufficiently serious to justify some form of warning to intelligence consumers? Yes, Community analysis were providedlenitude of information which should have suggested,inimum, that they take very seriously the threat of war in the near term. Though not conclusive, and though much of it could be explained away asehearsal rather than the main event, dataariety of sources indicated in Seolombor that something very big was browing in both Egypt and Syrla.p

together wlin aawareness iconiiffntyj again in

tno spring ot this year) thai Sadat wished io keep his military options open, should have led the analysts to assign far more weight to the possibility that Sadat's intentions were hostile.

ssuming that the information made available to them did indeed seem to warrant or demand such forewarning, did the analysts in fact effectively utilizes Indicated, the assessments which appeared In various Intelligence pertodimh. spot reports, and memoranda, did notutilize the information available and consequently did notarning of impendinghorough search of the material issued priorctober has failed to turn up any official statement from any office or committee responsible for producing finished, analyticalwhich contributed anythingarning, qua warning.

There was some rather timid cautionary advice, of the sort, emphasized below, in quotations from two assessments:

"We continue to believe that an outbreak of major Arab-Israeli hostilities remains unlikely for the immediate future, although the risk of localized fighting has Increased slightly as the result of the buildup of Syrian forces in the vicinity of the Golan Heights. Egyptian exercise activity under way since late September may also contribute to the possibility ofCombined Watch Report of the USIB,

'There are reports that Syria is preparing for an attack on Israel butvidence is lacking. In our view, the political climate in the Arab states arguesajor Syrian military move against

Israel al this time. The posstbtUiyore hmlled Syrian strike-perhaps one designed to retaliate for the pounding the Syrian Air Force took from the Israelis onannot. of course, be excluded."

-INR Memorandum to the Secretary,

But those qualifications deal only with the possibility of small-scale military actions. They thus could not hove served as warnings of major hostilities even had they been far less diffident than they in fact wore.

f analysts did not provide forewarning, what did they offer in its stead? Instead of warnings, the Community's analytical effort in effect produced reassurances. That is to say. the analysts, in roactingto indicators which could be interpreted in themselves as portents of hostile Arab actions against Israel, sought in effect to reassure their audience that the Arabs would not resort to war, at least not deliberately. Thus:

"Syria-Egypt- Tho movement of Syrian troops and Egyptian military readiness are cc-nsfoered to be coincidental and not designed to lead to majorDIA intelligence

he exercise and alert activities undor way in Egypt may boomewhat larger scale and more realistic than previous exorcises, but they do not appear to be preparingilitary offt>nsrve againstteHjfjence

"Egypt-Thecurrent, large-scale rriobi ligation exercise may bean effort to soothe internal problems as much as to improve military capabilities. Mobilization of some personnel, increased readiness of isolated units, and greater communication security are all assessed as parts of the exercisehere are still no military or political indicators of Egyptian intentions or preparations to resumewith Israel."

-OIA Intelligence

"Israo^Egypt-SyriaBoth the Israelis and the Arabs are becoming increasingly concerned about the military activities of the other, although neither side appears to be bent on initiatingorilitary initiative makes little sense at this criticalAnother round of hostilities would almost certainly destroy Sadat's painstaking efforts to invigorate the economy and would run

counter to his current efforts tonited Arab political front, parttcularrv among the less militant, oil-rich states. For the normally cautious Syrianilitary adventure now would be suicidal, and he has saidCentral Intelligence

"ThevVatch Committee met in special session03 to consider tho outbroafc of Israeli-Arabe can find no hard evidenceajor, coordinated Egyptian/ Syrian offensive across the Canal ond in the Golan Heights area. Rather, tho weight of evidence indicates an action-reaction situationeries of responses by each side to perceived threats created an increasingly dangerous potential for confrontation. The current hostilities areesult of that BtuatioruJt is possible that the Egyptians or Syrians, particularly the latter, may have beenaid or other small-scaleSpecial Report of the Watch

There were many reasons why the intelligence analysis which reached the consumers conveyed those essentially reassuring messages, not all of them good. But surely It will be recalled, as analytical shortcomings aro identified In this paper, that the hindsight of tho post-mortem process bestows an element of wisdom which is denied those-ln this instance intelligence an-alysts-who must deal in foresight. Indocd, what may seem so clear now did not, could not, seem so clear thon.

Still, there is no gainsaying tho judgment that, whatever the rationale, the principal conclusions concerning tho Imminence of Iwstilities reached and reiterated by those responsible for intelligence analysis were-quite Simpry, obviously, and Starkly--wrong.

ui1 aiiunET .

V. PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS

As can be seen in all the preceding, our survey of the recentof the Intelligence Communityis the Arab-Israeli problem has persuaded us that shortcomings of some magnitude existed. And we have concluded that unless corrective action is taken, similar problems could reemergeuture crisis.

Our recommendations must be preliminary in nature because, assuggested, the conclusions on which they rest must as yet be counted as interim. Our recommendations are also confined to matters of overall concern to the community. No attempt has been made to evaluate the performance of particular individuals or of particular units within the various offices and agencies.

B. The Analytic Effort Action to he taken:

C Staff, withparticipation, will develop regular systems to be implemented by the NlOs to ensure that serious divergent points of view and conflicting elements of information not be submerged by managerial fiat or lhe mechanism of reinforcing consensus.

systems will be charged in additionrisis the analytical Community is aware of theattach to the information being provided.

systems will also he charged with ensuring theof means to provide the views of devils' advocates,and the use of gaming techniques as appropriate

system will be established for the regular, perhapsreview of NIEs and SNIEs to determine if updated andshould be issued, such reviews and such issuances to helpCommunity to focus on key problems and to recall

architects of these sysiems will be responsible forup of regular procedures for the exchange of substantive views,information within the Community, perhaps in normal timesseminars, in times of crisis through electronic means.

ommunity-wide review will be undertaken under the IC Staff to determine tho advisability ot revamping existing warningprocedures, publications, doctrines, and analytical rncthodologies: and to study ways tolear warning function to production offices and analysts; and to recommend ways to establish clear guidelines for systematic presentations of probability.

he Community will consider the adoptionoherent national family of products for publication during periods of crisis, so as to provide high-level consumers with frequent assessments and with warning advisories as appropriate, and so as toystem which would ensure rapid coordination and the effective expression of any importantof view.

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