On June 23rd, Major General Michelle McGuinness, Deputy Director for Commonwealth Integration (DDCI) at DIA, joined INSA’s Vice President for Policy Larry Hanauer to discuss her role, the importance of intelligence sharing among the Five Eyes partners, and to provide insights on current intelligence sharing challenges and opportunities.
Major General McGuinness, the first Five Eyes partner that INSA has hosted, began by reiterating the importance of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing relationship between the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. She emphasized that this partnership, which is steeped in history and has been battle tested, has become so enduring and expansive due to the shared values and interests within the Five Eyes member countries. The Five Eyes relationship does not abrogate each country’s respective national priorities; instead, the group draws strategic priorities from common national security threats which, due to the member countries’ shared values and national security challenges, often align.
In her role as the DDCI, she is the principal advisor on Five Eyes integration issues and brings a deeper perspective on how to overcome the barriers within and harness the benefits of the Five Eyes partnership. One of her main priorities in this role is to ensure that as intelligence agencies are forced to address new landscapes and embrace new technologies, they continue to prioritize interoperability and the capability to share intelligence at all levels.
While considering the challenges that face the Five Eyes relationship, Major General McGuiness focused on the importance of ensuring integration between the member countries in technology, analytical culture, policy, and risk assessment. However, she holds a positive outlook as the partnership, which is rooted in US-UK signals intelligence during WWII, has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to be adaptable and agile in responding to evolving threats.
On technology, Major General McGuinness further emphasized the value of intelligence sharing to establish, understand, and remain informed of the strategic perspective and common operational picture in the potential future arenas for warfare, including the cyber and space domains.
Major General McGuinness also discussed the role that industry can play in the Five Eyes relationship. She stressed the importance for private companies to have a strong understanding of the Five Eyes partnership and other intelligence sharing relationships so that systems are built with the necessary capabilities to integrate within existing networks. She advised that teams consider integration at the outset of production so that the use of the final product is not limited to just one country.
The one thing that she would do to bring the Five Eyes community closer together would be to increase the physical relationships and experience between intelligence community members in the various countries. She firmly believes that communication and personal experience would make a world of difference in increasing the ties between and effectiveness of the Five Eyes member countries.