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24 April 2007

The best of the Academy

We have been gratified to note the response of the blogsphere, and of many within the intelligence studies field, to our brief note on “Imitation and the Academy”.

We would wish to profoundly emphasize that the majority of our colleagues are courteous professionals who have not only displayed great intellectual honesty and rigour, but also have on more than one occasion offered us great personal assistance as we have struggled jointly to come to terms with difficult and enduring challenges in the field.

There are also a number of individuals at a range of institutions which we have never met, but nonetheless owe a debt of the muse thanks to their efforts at advancing the literature. Whenever possible, we have sought to reference these works which have so profoundly influenced our own thinking - although we regret that much of this corpus remains as yet unpublished in open forums, or otherwise not attributable due to the unique academic and professional interactions of our community.

However, we are most happy to note that the expected new availability of a great deal more literature from one of the key intelligence studies academic and community sources - the newly re-branded National Defense Intelligence College. The schoolhouse is undergoing profound change, which it has slowly begun unveiling in limited public forums with the strong expectation of greater openness to come. This is what sets true thought leaders apart – their willingness to pursue unique and innovative approaches, and to share them with others who may benefit. From what we hear, their new curriculum will be an amazing thing – and may very well revolutionize expectations for professional intelligence education.

There are also a number of others whose new involvement in the Academy we feel holds great promise due to their unique insight. Among these is a gentleman we have frequently cited – Messr. Michael Tanji – now teaching at George Washington University, whose students are fortunate to benefit from one of the more unconventional, and thus worthwhile, perspectives in the field. And now, it appears that he will be entering the world of the mainstream media (for which we forgive him, and wish him the best….)

Also of worthwhile note is the continuing Summer Hard Analytical Problems (SHARP) series, which brings together academics, professionals, and technologists in an attempt to focus discussion on key accounts of interest to the community as a whole.

We also look forward to the end results of the research which is now consuming the once prolific Dr. Dauber of Rantingprofs. While we respect and understand her choice to focus on key priorities other than the online discourse, we eagerly await what new wisdom she will offer in other medium.

And while slightly off the normal range of topics in this forum, we wish to offer particular thanks to the proprietors of The Donovan blog, which has driven quite a bit of traffic and interest our way (and not for the first time, either). We are particularly enamored with their recurring photo recognition series, as it has featured rare and interesting ordnance and other toys. We can never stress enough the importance of basic military knowledge for serving intelligence professionals assigned to roles in the Long War, and it is nice to have a light and easy way to continually reinforce new slices of a complex area of study for new analysts and officers.

All of these efforts are most needed, and more like them need to be encouraged. The knowledge that this is how the field should be is the root of our dissatisfaction with the smaller segment of the academy which is failing to meet this high standard, instead attempting to build small empires of ego built upon the work of others and relying upon the disconnected nature of the field to protect them from having to compete in the marketplace of ideas. This ill serves the academy and the community at a time when we can ill afford anything less than every best effort.

As for our house, we will continue to serve in the best manner we are able, and continue to pursue the professionalization of intelligence, and the development of the intelligence literature, with those that are willing to collaborate online and offline. We are fortunate to live in such days, and to serve alongside so many of the best and brightest.