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Working for the “War Czar”

Lessons for Intelligence Support to Policymaking during Crises (U)

Paul D. Miller

In the spring of 2007, President George W. Bush named Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute to serve as his assistant and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan to bring greater attention and coherence to the US policymaking in those areas. Lute, who would be popularly referred to as the “war advisor” or the “war czar,” served through the end of the Bush administration, and like Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, he continued working in the Obama administration, although with some changes to his title and portfolio.

I worked for General Lute from September 2007 through September 2009 as director for Afghanistan on the National Security Council staff. I was detailed from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate for Intelligence (DI), where I served as a political analyst on the Afghanistan Branch from 2003 to 2007. Prior to that, in 2002, I served as an intelligence analyst in the US Army, deployed to the Combined Joint Task Force-180 Intelligence Support Element in Bagram, Afghanistan.

During my two years in the NSC, I came to see both strengths and weaknesses in Intelligence Community (IC) support to policymaking. In this article, after an overview of the NSC and my role in it, I will offer what I consider to be the lessons of my experience and suggest ways in which the IC might be able to improve its support to the NSC, especially in high-profile crisis situations.

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All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the author. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US government endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.


Posted: Jul 02, 2010 10:50 AM
Last Updated: Jul 02, 2010 10:50 AM