The section of the U.S. government that is literally and metaphorically shrouded in secrecy is the intelligence community.
While all of the constituent agencies have public presences, they each have different functions and specializations.
Thus, if you area student seeking to serve in an analytic or management roles within these agencies as professionals, it is useful to understand which agency is the best conceptual fit. It is also useful to attempt an internship within one of these agencies, as it would secure valuable career preparation for work in the IC. For information about those opportunities, visit the individual websites of each of the IC members.
[Author’s note: Much of the information below is reproduced from the website of the Director of National Intelligence and has been edited for length.]
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (AF ISR) provides policy, oversight, and guidance to all Air Force intelligence organizations.
AF ISR organizes, trains, equips, and presents forces to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for combatant commanders and the nation. It also implements and oversees policy and guidance, as well as expands AF ISR.
The AF ISR commander serves as the Service Cryptologic Element under NSA and oversees Air Force Signals Intelligence activities. More than 19,000 military and civilian members serve at 72 AF ISR duty stations worldwide.
U.S. Army Intelligence
U.S. Army Intelligence, known as G-2, is responsible for policy formulation, planning, programming, budgeting, management, staff supervision, evaluation, and oversight for intelligence activities for the Department of the Army.
The G-2 is responsible for the overall coordination of the five major military intelligence (MI) disciplines within the Army: Imagery Intelligence, Signals Intelligence, Human Intelligence, Measurement and Signature Intelligence, and Counterintelligence and Security Countermeasures.
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers.
The CIA is separated into four basic components: the National Clandestine Service, the Directorate of Intelligence, the Directorate of Science & Technology, and the Directorate of Support. They carry out “the intelligence cycle,” the process of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating primarily human intelligence information to top U.S. government officials.
Coast Guard Intelligence
The U.S.Coast Guard fills a specific niche within the Intelligence Community. Due to its unique access, emphasis, and expertise in the maritime domain Coast Guard Intelligence can collect and report intelligence that not only supports Coast Guard missions, but also supports national objectives.
Coast Guard Intelligence strives to create decision advantage to advance U.S. interests by providing timely, actionable, and relevant intelligence to shape Coast Guard operations, planning, and decision-making, and to support national and homeland security intelligence requirements.
Defense Intelligence Agency
The Defense Intelligence Agency is a major producer and manager of foreign military intelligence and provides military intelligence to warfighters, defense policymakers and force planners.
The agency’s 16,500 staff support U.S. military planning, serve as a principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on matters of military intelligence.
Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence is responsible for intelligence and counterintelligence activities covering DOE’s operations nationwide.
DOE’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence protects and enables the scientific resources in Department laboratories and plants, including Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, and Livermore National Laboratories. The office not only protects extraordinary intellectual and scientific property, but also serves as resource to secure and protect the nation’s national nuclear stockpile through its support of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Department of Homeland Security
DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is responsible for using information and intelligence from multiple sources to identify and assess current and future threats to the U.S. DHS Intelligence focuses on four strategic areas.
As the intelligence service supporting Customs and Border Protection, DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis may also support the work of the US government in enforcing sanctions and international treaty obligations such as those enacted by the CITES and the Kimberly Process.
INR Department of State
The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) provides the Secretary of State with timely, objective analysis of global developments and real-time insights from all-source intelligence.
In addition to serving as the focal point within the department for IC focused activities, the INR also serves as a resource on humanitarian and policy issues that are of interest to the Department. This includes their excellent Humanitarian Intelligence Unit.
INR analysts draw all-source intel, diplomatic reporting, public opiion polling, and interaction with scholars. INR seeks to respond rapidly to changing policy priorities and to provide early warning and in-depth analysis of events and trends that affect U.S. foreign policy and national security interests.
Department of the Treasury
The Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) was established by the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2004.
OIA is part of Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). As such, OIA receives, analyzes, collates, and disseminatres foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence information related to the safeguarding of the financial system against illicit use and the use of financial power to combat rogue nations, terrorist facilitators, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, money launderers, drug kingpins, and other national security threats.
Drug Enforcement Administration
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of National Security Intelligence (ONSI) is responsible for enforcing the controlled substance laws and regulations of the United States.
ONSI’s goal is to enhance the U.S.’s efforts to reduce the supply of drugs, protect national security, and combat global terrorism. DEA has 21 field divisions in the U.S. and more than 80 offices in more than 60 countries worldwide.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The FBI’s ement agency, is responsible for understanding threats to our national security and penetrating national and transnational networks that have a desire and capability to harm the U.S. The National Security Branch combines the functions of the FBI’s counterterror, counterintelligence and intelligence elements within one office.
The NSB also includes the WMD directorate, the Terrorist Screening Center, and the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.
Marine Corps Intelligence
The Marine Corps Intelligence Activity produces tactical and operational intelligence for battlefield support. Its staff is responsible policy, plans, programming, budgets, and staff supervision of intelligence and supporting activities within the USMC. T
The department has service staff responsibility for geospatial intelligence, advanced geospatial intelligence, signals intelligence, human intelligence, counterintelligence, and ensures there is a single synchronized strategy for the development of the Marine Corps Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Enterprise.
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency provides timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security objectives
In its mission, NGA provides support to civilian and military leaders and contributes to the state of readiness of U.S. military forces, as well as contributes to humanitarian efforts such as tracking floods and fires, and in peacekeeping.
National Reconnaissance Office
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) designs, builds and operates the nation’s reconnaissance satellites. NRO products can warn of potential trouble spots around the world, help plan military operations, and monitor the environment.
National Security Agency/Central Security Service
The National Security Agency/Central Security Service is the nation’s cryptologic organization that coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. information systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information.
As such, the NSA is one of the most important centers of foreign language analysis and research within the U.S. government as well as one of the largest employers of mathematicians in the world.
The Agency supports military customers, national policymakers, and the counterterrorism and counterintelligence communities, as well as key international allies.
The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) provides maritime intelligence to the U.S. Navy and joint warfighting forces, as well national decision makers and other consumers in the Intelligence Community.
Established in 1882, ONI’s 3,000 staff specializes in the analysis, production and dissemination of vital, timely and accurate scientific, technical, geopolitical and military intelligence information to key consumers worldwide.