During the June 9 installation of INSA’s Tuesday morning Coffee & Conversation virtual speaker series, IC trailblazer, The Honorable Joan Dempsey, sat down with The Honorable Charlie Allen. A community icon, Mr. Allen has served as a voice of reason, warning, and wisdom throughout all of his varied and crucial positions over the course of his distinguished, 60-plus-year career.
The 45-minute conversation between Ms. Dempsey and Mr. Allen addressed the current state of intelligence in the US and how it compares to the past. Mr. Allen argued that the current IC is not quite where it needs to be to rise to the challenge of great power and competition, as it lacks in effective leadership and response to changes in technology and global politics. He emphasized that leadership involves character, competence, accountability, and a bit of humility, and senior leadership in the IC must support agency directors and supervisors. Pulling on his experiences from the Cold War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and beyond, Mr. Allen expressed his appreciation and admiration for his colleagues, past and present, who possess(ed) these qualities.
When asked to provide advice for the new DNI, Mr. Allen began by saying that the most effective leadership in the IC has been when there were several DCIs to help bear the load and make decisions. Even more, it takes resilient and bulletproof leadership to effectively and successfully lead the IC, he asserted.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Allen made clear that even though it's important that we learn from our past, we must also remain future-forward to anticipate changes both domestically and on foreign soil. The job of analysts and intelligence officers, above all, is duty, dedication, development of new capabilities to solve future problems, and a driving need to keep the country safe.